Relationships, sexual health and parenthood

About ​relationships, sexual health and parenthood

In this part of the health and wellbeing curriculum area, your child will develop an understanding of how to maintain positive relationships with a variety of people. They will become aware of how thoughts, feelings, attitudes, values and beliefs can influence decisions about relationships, and sexual health.
Your child will develop their understanding of the demanding role and responsibilities of being a parent or carer. 

Early level/First level

Note: Children in their early years and Primary 1, as well as some older children, will be working at the Early level. As a general guide, children in P2-P4 are likely to be working at the First level. Find out more about curriculum levels.

  • Encourage your child to try a range of different activities and hobbies to help them find out what they enjoy and what they don't like so much.
  • Listen to your child as they talk about the friends that they have made.
  • Encourage your child to be a good friend, and talk about what this might look, sound and feel like.
  • Think together of how to react when things don't go well with friends. Remind your child to talk to an adult if he/she isn't able to resolve a friendship problem alone.
  • Listen to your child's worries with an open mind and think together of different ways to solve problems.
  • Reassure your child that some worries belong to adults and that it is not his/her job to solve those problems.
  • Talk to your child about what they do well and what they find difficult. Reassure them that everyone has things that they find difficult. Give examples of things that you used to find difficult but are now able to do.
  • Encourage your child to think positively about others' achievements and talents.
  • Use the correct names when talking to your child about body parts and encourage them to do the same.
  • Keep a height chart to show your child how well they are growing.
  • Create daily hygiene routines with your child and encourage him/her to become more independent in carrying these out. Praise your child for remembering to do so.
  • Encourage and support your child to wash their hands properly.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you, or someone else that they trust, if they hurt themselves or feel that they want to hurt themselves.
  • Involve your child in helping to care for younger children and babies in the family.
  • Use imaginative play opportunities to show your child how to care for others, including babies (for example, when your child plays with dolls and or teddies). 

Second level (P5-P7)

  • Encourage your child to enjoy spending time outdoors.
  • Listen with an open mind when your child talks about different relationships that he/she has and how he/she feels about others.
  • Talk about scenarios when friendships change and how this might make him/her feel. Think together about how to react in these situations for the most positive outcome.
  • Think carefully about how you talk about your own body image and consider what messages this sends to your child.
  • Model good daily hygiene and encourage your child to develop and take responsibility for good hygiene habits on a daily basis.
  • Encourage and support your child to wash their hands properly.
  • Talk to your child about the changes that can happen during puberty and how these might affect the way that he/she feels and acts. Reassure your child that changes happen at different times and in different ways for each person.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and talk about how his/her body is changing and any concerns that he/she might have.
  • Be sensitive to your child's changing emotions as he/she reaches puberty and let him/her know that you are there.
  • Help your child to understand that no-one should try to make them do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or that they feel is inappropriate. Talk about what to do and who to tell if this happens.
  • Answer questions on sex and conception as they arise and encourage your child to ask about issues that they are unsure of or want to understand better.
  • Use issues from the news, magazines, TV programmes or films to talk with your child about sex and relationships.
  • Explain to your child that being a parent is an important responsibility and that parents have to make lots of decisions to keep their child safe, healthy and cared for. 

Third/Fourth levels (S1-S3)

  • Encourage your child to adopt a caring attitude towards his/her family, friends and others.
  • Demonstrate qualities and skills that help to maintain positive relationships when interacting with others.
  • Talk to your child about his/her right to choose the type of relationships to be in. Think together about what to do and who to go to if relationships don't go as planned or hoped.
  • Talk to your child about stories, comments, pictures or other information on relationships and sex that he/she sees on social media and how these make him/her feel.
  • Answer questions on different types of relationships and partnerships with an open mind.
  • Explain the importance of, and need for, commitment, trust and respect in loving and sexual relationships. Help your child to understand that they should never feel pressured into having sex or any other sexual activities.
  • Use issues from the news, magazines, TV programmes or films to talk with your child about how they feel about themselves and the ways that they can be influenced by what others do and say.
  • Trust your child to make decisions that will keep them safe and healthy within their relationships. Be prepared to offer guidance if your child faces challenging times or situations.
  • Talk to your child about contraception and how to stay safe in sexual relationships.
  • Make your child aware of services available in your local area where they can get advice and information on relationships and sex, and encourage him/her to take responsibility for being safe and healthy.
  • Remind your child of all of the adults who have looked after and cared for him/her and talk about the support that they have provided.

Senior phase/post-16

  • Build a relationship with your child based on two-way trust and let them know that you are always there to listen.
  • Find answers to difficult questions and situations together, making use of local services as appropriate.
  • Model appropriate behaviours in your own relationships and in taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing.
  • Be honest with your child about the realities and impacts of being a parent, both the positives and the challenges.