How to Support With Teenage Relationships

teenagers holding hands first relationship in love

Most parents dread the start of teenage relationships! It’s hard to know how best to support your child as they first start dating.

Some young people show an early interest in forming relationships, others will start later or not at all. Every child is unique. 

Younger children often talk about having a boyfriend or girlfriend. They are copying the behaviour they see from the adults around them.

As they grow older, they may talk more seriously about being in a relationship, but this is likely to take place within a group setting without spending much time alone.

It’s good to talk

Although your child’s first relationships are likely to be more friendships than anything serious, it’s good to talk about what a positive relationship should look like from a young age.

You don’t need to sit them down for a lecture, just point out examples you see on TV shows and everyday life and use them to start a conversation. Here are 10 tips to help you talk with your teen.

Supporting your child with teenage relationships

From around the age of fifteen, many teens start seriously dating. They may feel embarrassed to talk to you or worry you’ll disapprove of their choices, but try to keep the lines of communication open.

Teenage romance girlfriend and boyfriend

Tips for supporting your child:

  • Avoid mocking or laughing about teenage relationships
  • Show them you’re ready to listen whenever they want to confide in you
  • Encourage them to share problems without judging their decisions
  • Avoid telling them what they should do or force them to talk
  • Talk about what a positive relationship should look like

If you dislike your child’s relationship, you may consider banning them from seeing each other. But this approach might make your child more determined to stay in the relationship. It encourages them to be secretive and lie to you. 

Instead, talk about any concerns you have. Is there a problem with the relationship, or do you just not like their partner?

You can share any worries you have in a non-confrontational way and allow them to make their own decisions unless you are worried about their safety.

Coping with break-ups

Most young people will have several relationships as they learn about what they are looking for in a partner. Break-ups are inevitable and can be hard for your child to manage.

How to support your child through a breakup:

  • Empathise and give them comfort
  • Don’t expect them to get over it quickly
  • Avoid telling them, “I told you so”
  • Help them look at the positives
  • Encourage them to keep up with their usual hobbies and interests

As adults, we know that these first teenage relationships are unlikely to last forever. That can make them seem trivial, temporary, or unimportant. But emotions are powerful, especially for teens also going through the enormous changes brought on by puberty

Where next?

Our webinars and parenting classes give you the support you need to understand and manage your child’s challenging behaviour.

We’ll look at what the behaviour tells you, with lots of practical strategies you can use at home. Browse our upcoming events.