We know that as children and young people develop and grow through their teens, it’s natural that they will become curious about topics such as relationships and sex.
It is possible they may even rush getting into a relationship due to peer pressure and wanting to fit in with their friends.
It is also understandable for some parents and carers to be worried if their child is starting a new relationship, especially as more and more people make contact online, and use social media to communicate with one another.
Speaking to your child about relationships may feel awkward or uncomfortable, but there are ways you can may the conversation easier and put you both at ease.
Finding a good time to start the conversation is important, perhaps when your child is relaxed and there are unlikely to be any interruptions, such as on a walk or in the car, instead of in the home where other family members could walk in.
It could also be useful to relate the conversation to something that’s happened on a TV series that you’ve both watched.
For example, if you’ve been watching a TV series or film where one of the characters is in a relationship, you could ask your child what they think about the character’s relationship and if it is healthy or unhealthy.
It’s best not to rush the conversation, but to let your child talk to you in their own time.
It can help to have several short conversations rather than trying to cover everything at once, and if your child feels uncomfortable, let them know that you’re there if they want to talk to you about relationships at a different time.
Unfortunately, you may realise that your child is involved in an unhealthy relationship, which can be upsetting and worrying.
It can also be difficult to know if something is wrong or how to help them, but there are ways to spot the signs of this and what to do if you’re worried.
An unhealthy relationship can be difficult to define, so the warning signs can vary hugely.
But worried parents can look out for social withdrawal, changes in appearance, changes in appetite, or even marks and bruises.
Your child may also show signs of unexplained suspicious behaviour and may second guess everyone except their partner.
It can be really hard to approach the subject with your child as they may become defensive, so avoiding blame and harsh criticism towards your child is vital, and it is best to keep the conversation calm and unforced.
It’s important to let your child know that they have the right to be treated with respect. They shouldn’t be forced into doing things they aren’t comfortable with, have to behave in a certain way or be made to feel they aren’t good enough whilst in a relationship.
It is vitally important that we talk to children about relationships, sex and consent, and issues arise then it is more likely that the child will be open and honest.
For more advice on starting conversations about relationships, including sex and consent, with your child visit: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/sex-relationships/healthy-relationships/ Any adults with concerns about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0808 800 5000.