The Evidence Portal

Establishing and maintaining relationships

Flexible activity

This activity aims to teach young people about healthy relationships including boundaries, identifying other people’s needs, self-efficacy in communication, and meaningful interactions. This can include learning about healthy boundaries and maintaining time for yourself, practicing emotional responsiveness via active listening, and developing self-efficacy and confidence in your capacity to speak your mind in a respectful way.

Establishing and maintaining relationships is a critical skill for young people to develop and practice with prosocial peers, family members and community.

How can it be implemented?

Activities geared towards establishing and maintaining relationships are best practiced in-person, however didactic content canvassing topics such as healthy boundaries and maintaining time for yourself can be delivered remotely. Program facilitators can guide participants through various aspects of effective communication including active listening, non-verbal cues, and stress and emotion management. Participants can then practice their learned skills via roleplaying or scenario-based learning, peer learning or via games and interactive activities.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • Adolescent boys attending an alternative high school for students who struggled with behaviour problems in their traditional school
  • Students attending an alternative education school and with one or more risk factors for academic failure including poor grades, truancy, disruptive behaviour, repeated suspension or expulsion
  • Young adults aged 18-19
  • 14-17 year-old male students
  • 10th grade girls from rural, low-income high schools
  • Adolescent girls aged 13-17 at high-risk for pregnancy

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In the Council for Boys and Young Men, participants learn about healthy relationships by writing questions about relationships anonymously, and then discussing questions in a group-setting.
  • In Transformative Life Skills (TLS), one of four units is targeted towards building healthy relationships. Each unit includes 12 lessons designed to teach specific skills related to the overarching unit theme.
  • In Media Aware (Sexual Health Program for Young Adults), students explore media representations of romantic relationships and consider portrayals of unhealthy and abusive relationship behaviours compared with realities of unhealthy and abusive romantic relationships.
  • In Guy Talk, one of eight interactive lessons focuses on managing relationships. These lessons are delivered via small and large group discussion, small group practice and individual and paired activities.
  • The HEART (Health Education and Relationship Training) program teaches competent interpersonal skills and offers skill-building exercises associated with communication self-efficacy.
  • In Prime Time, case management visits focus on healthy relationships and peer educator training involves delivery of a curriculum addressing communication skills and expectations and skills for healthy relationships.

What else should I consider?

If online or video interventions are going to be implemented, service providers and participants will require access to devices and/or software to view and engage with the content.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

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