Healthy relationships involve a strong foundation of trust. A trustworthy person is someone that is reliable and dependable; and when that person demonstrates trustworthy characteristics, it strengthens your relationship to let you know this is a safe person that you can count on. Untrustworthy behavior does the opposite and weakens the relationship, causing you to rely on that person less and less. How do we know the difference? This lesson dives into the signs to look for in others and how to be trustworthy ourselves.
Elementary and Secondary Lesson
Trust is key in making and maintaining relationships. What does trust look like? How do you build it within your friendships? How do you know if your friend is worthy of your trust?
You’ve probably heard the expression “raise a red flag” as a way to signal a possible problem or danger. In this lesson, we’re going to use red flags to signal the warning signs of untrustworthy behavior in relationships and green flags to celebrate the trustworthy qualities you should expect from a good relationship.
Together with your students, read a list of relationship situations. After each relationship situation, have students raise their red flags if they think the action makes them feel uncomfortable or concerned and raise their green flag if this is something they would like in their friendships. At the end, talk as a group about what was learned and how to build trust in relationships.
Red construction paper
Green construction paper
Read the introduction paragraph listed above to summarize the goal of the lesson.
Hand out red construction paper and green construction paper to the students. Read the students the scenarios/qualities on this worksheet (Elementary version or Secondary version) and keep a score of how many red flags are raised and green flags are raised. At the end of the exercise, review the correct answers with the class.
Have students break into small groups of 4 and answer the following questions:
People often say that the foundation of a healthy relationship is a good friendship. What does this mean? What are some of the qualities you would look for in a friend?
Have you ever done something that was a red flag in a relationship? Have you ever done something that was a green flag in a relationship? How did both actions make you feel? Knowing what red flags are and how trustworthiness is important, what would you do differently?
Bonus: As a class, create a list of relationship rights and responsibilities — the way you deserve to be treated and the way you should treat others.
Here’s the foundation: You have the right to be spoken to with respect. You have the right to be treated as an equal. You have the right to feel safe, at all times.
What other relationship rights do you have? What are your relationship responsibilities that you need to make sure you do to others?
Review with students the importance of not ignoring red flags especially if they feel something is wrong or makes them uncomfortable. Share with students tips on how to regain trust (see some examples below). Use age-appropriate and relevant examples from friendships, dating relationships, and family relationships as well.
Some examples include:
How to address feeling uncomfortable - At recess, a child in the class started chanting that you stink and others joined in, you are mortified and crushed so you ask the yard supervisor for support.
How to mend a misunderstanding - You are sharing with your friend about your upcoming vacation and noticed that they got upset. Later you realized their family doesn't take vacations, so you apologize for going on about the vacation and asked what they would like to talk about.