- Explain the dynamics of healthy relationships (shared values, respect, support, compromise, communication) versus unhealthy relationships (possessiveness, physical aggression, guilt trips, threats or intimidation, always one person's way), and be clear about what behaviors are not okay to do or have done to you in a relationship.
- Draw on concrete examples your child knows from real life or the media to explain different types of relationships and their pros and cons. Look for opportunities like seeing something happen in public or on TV to talk about the relationship just portrayed.
- Talk about relationships more than once. Make yourself available when your pre-teen shows an interest in talking and give the conversation your full attention.
- Be honest about what you know and what your opinions are. It's okay to not have all the answers. You can always take time to think about a question posed and come back to the conversation later.
- Try to be a good role model in relationships and admit your own mistakes and what you learned form them.
- Teach your pre-teen the importance of assertiveness, resolving conflicts in a respectful and healthy way, and negotiating. Give them opportunities to work on these skills at home.