Lesson 5

Healthy Relationships


Lesson Goal:

To encourage teens to engage in healthy relationship behaviors.


Lesson Objectives:

  • Identify different types of relationships.
  • Describe three factors in a healthy relationship.
  • Describe three signs of an unhealthy relationship.


Content Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards

National Standards


There are many different types of relationships - friendships, parent-child relationships, dating relationships, sibling relationships, mentor relationships and more. Each relationship is unique in its own way. All healthy relationships depend upon healthy components, including equality, open communication, respect and trust.


Equality in relationships includes:

  • Shared decision making.
  • Shared responsibilities.
  • One person does not see themselves as better than the other.

Open communication means:

  • The ability to talk about anything.
  • Agreeing to disagree about some things.
  • Speaking assertively, not aggressively or passively.
  • Compromising.
  • Discussing expectations.

Respect in a relationship entails:

  • Caring about each other's opinions.
  • Understanding boundaries (physical and emotional)
  • Providing privacy.

Trust means:

  • Saying what you want.
  • Being completely honest.
  • Communicating about absolutely everything.

Some unhealthy characteristics in relationships include the use of coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and isolation. Other unhealthy characteristics are minimizing (portraying something important as unimportant), denying and blaming. The Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel describes these characteristics in detail. 

It does take time and effort to build really strong relationships.


Relationship Wheel                                   

You may want to use this activity to open the lesson.

1. Have each student write his/her name in the middle of a sheet of paper, then draw a circle around the name. See the example.

2. Have the students draw "spokes" from the inner circle to the outside of the larger circle. Ask students to think of people they have close relationships with and write these names on the spokes. Below the names, they should write the type of relationship (brother, parent, friend, teacher, coach, etc.).

3. Allow time for the students to complete the wheel with as many relationships as they can think of.

4. Discuss the different types of relationships and how each is similar and different.

5. Wrap up the discussion by noting that human relationships are a major part of our lives. It's important, therefore, to learn how to keep these relationships healthy.


1. Make copies of the reproducible and discuss any statements that may be confusing.
2. Ask students to complete the worksheet.
3. Discuss why these questions are important to relationships.
4. If a student has many "no" boxes checked, help them see that the relationship may be unhealthy.

Reproducible: Speaking Assertively
1. Make copies of the reproducible.
2. Ask students, in pairs, to reword the sentences into "I" statements or into more assertive statements. 
Relationship Role Play
1. Ask volunteers to read the scenarios below and role-play them for the class.
2. Afterward, discuss the healthy and unhealthy characteristics of each relationship. How could the characters have communicated more assertively?
Scenario 1
Allison usually hangs out with four girls: Pam, Lacey, Tina and Stacey. She is really close to Pam, but Lacey is the leader of the group. The girls might also hang around with other groups at school, but outside of school the "Fab Five" always do things together. The group decided to do something together one Friday night. Allison and Pam wanted to see a movie that had just come out, but Lacey didn't want to see the movie and became upset with Allison and Pam. Under Lacey's influence, Tina and Stacey, as well as Lacey, gave Allison and Pam the cold shoulder. Every time the two girls walked by, the three girls started to whisper. Pam learned from others that Lacey was spreading stories about her and Allison. What should Pam and Allison do?
Scenario 2
As Jon was walking home from school one day, he noticed his neighbor and her boyfriend outside arguing. The man was calling her names and she was crying and screaming back at him. Suddenly, he hit her and she ran to the house. Jon decided to make sure she was OK and find out what was going on. Jon's neighbor told him not to worry about it. What should Jon do now?
Scenario 3
Mia has a new friend, Missy. During the first month of their friendship, Mia and Missy did a lot of fun things together, but recently Missy has been making all the decisions and doesn't seem to listen when Mia makes a suggestion. One night, Mia told Missy about an idea she had for a big project, and Missy said it was a "stupid" idea and made other rude comments as well. Mia's other friends have noticed how Missy treats her, and Mia is getting tired of her behavior. What should she do now?

Leader's Fast Facts:

1. One in three teen relationships are abusive.

2. Sixty percent of children who grew up in abusive homes will model this behavior. For example, a boy who witnesses his mother being abused will, more than likely, grow up to abuse his future partner.


Additional Resources:

Teen Ink: Friends and Family. By teens, edited by Stephanie Meyer and John Meyer. Health Communications, Inc., 2001.

Closing the Gap: A Strategy for Bringing Parents and Teens Together. By Jay McGraw. Simon and Schuster Publishing, 2001.