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Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework - October 1999

Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal Relationships focuses on the importance of sound and stable relationships with other people with whom individuals share their lives, such as family, friends, co-workers, and community members. Communication skills are an essential component to help build safe and long-lasting relationships throughout the life cycle. Equally important are character attributes such as respect and responsibility, which are essential for healthy personal development, caring interpersonal relationships, and a humane and democratic society.

Instruction in Interpersonal Relationships facilitates students' understanding that very few events in life occur in isolation from other people, so the ability to achieve healthy relationships is critical for well being. This is especially true for major life events such as starting school, going away to college, entering the workforce, marriage, or child rearing. Students learn about the different kinds of relationships that people can have, such as neighborly relationships, family relationships, peer and friend relationships, and romantic relationships. Instruction in Interpersonal Relationships highlights the recognition that each person has internal personal choices and decisions to make regarding relationships, as well as providing the knowledge about the many external factors that can affect those relationships. Skills and strategies to relate to others as well as the recognition of the contribution of personality and good character to relationships can be learned through health education programs that address Interpersonal Relationships. Topics generally covered in Interpersonal Relationships include: Communication, Peer Relationships, and Romantic Relationships.

Note: Please see parental notification law in Appendix B, p. 69.

PreK-12 Standard 7: Interpersonal Relationships

Students will learn that relationships with others are an integral part of the human life experience and the factors that contribute to healthy interpersonal relationships, and will acquire skills to enhance and make many of these relationships more fulfilling through commitment and communication.

Learning Standards: Interpersonal Relationships

PreK-5 Communication
7.1 Explain why communication is essential in human relationships and identify people from whom children can learn how to communicate, such as family members, friends, community members, and members of faith-based groups.
7.2 Apply both verbal and non-verbal communication skills to develop positive relationships and improve the social environment of the school.
Peer Relationships
7.3 Describe the concept of friendship and contrast qualities that strengthen or weaken a friendship, including the importance of sound character in interacting with others.
7.4 Describe the concepts of prejudice and discrimination.
6-8 Communication
7.5 Apply attentive listening, feedback, and assertiveness skills to enhance positive interpersonal communication.
Peer Relationships
7.6 Explain how peer pressure influences choices and apply strategies for managing negative peer pressure and encouraging positive peer pressure.
7.7 Recognize the positive contribution of character traits (such as tolerance, honesty, self-discipline, respectfulness, and kindness) to relationships, the benefit to relationships which include understanding and respecting individual differences, and the detrimental effect of prejudice (such as prejudice on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or religion) on individual relationships and society as a whole.
Romantic Relationships
7.8 Describe the purpose of dating and acceptable dating attitudes (such as respect) and appropriate conduct.
7.9 Explain the benefits of abstinence, postponing sexual behavior, and setting limits on sexual behavior.
9-12 Communication
7.10 Identify techniques for handling anger and resolving conflicts in the family, friendships, and the workplace, including seeking help from professional and community organizations and faith-based groups.
7.11 Contrast the emotional impact on long-term relationships of positive communication (such as active listening, praise, and humor) with negative communication (such as teasing, name calling, bullying).
7.12 Describe the influence of the larger social group on individual conduct (such as giving comfort, solving problems, and controlling deviant behavior through enforcing laws and the development of good character in the members of society).
7.13 Explain the importance of communication in setting limits in a sexual relationship.
Peer Relationships
7.14 Explain the purpose of friendship in different stages of the life cycle and describe how friends can support one another in making healthy decisions.
7.15 Recognize and identify the concept of friendship without romantic involvement and how friendship may develop into romantic relationships.
Romantic Relationships
7.16 Explain the importance of responsibility and character traits such as love, respectfulness, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness, in committed relationships.
7.17 Describe commitment in casual and serious relationships.

Selected Examples: Interpersonal Relationships

7.2 Students design posters, bulletin boards or web page components on the theme of the 3R's-Responsibilities, Rights, and Respect. Include examples of conduct and policies that reflect the 3R's in the school.

7.6 Students identify risk-taking behaviors that a teen might consider. Working in small groups, practice and evaluate refusal skills for those risk behaviors that are dangerous.

7.7 Students read literature on prejudice and write a paper on how it can cause conflict in communities.

7.8 Students identify social interaction patterns among young people and compare the functions those patterns serve in developing relationships with others. Invite the school counselor to discuss appropriate and inappropriate conduct in pre-adolescent friendships and dating.

7.17 Students create skits that deal with various decisions made at the developmental stages of relationships. Videotape and analyze the skits with regard to the different decisions people might be faced with in these relationships.

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Last Updated: October 1, 1999
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