Authored by: Ricky Vigil, Afterschool Program Coordinator, Cyprus High School
In my Afterschool Program, we go through a series of fads everywhere. One week the kids might be really into Uno, the next week they might crochet 3 or 4 yarn hats, and the next maybe pottery will be the hottest activity. Throughout it all, the one thing that never changes is the crazy strength of teenage hormones—it’s not uncommon for a new love triangle or two to pop up in our program from week to week, only to be quickly forgotten when a new love interest shows up. Because of social media, YouTube and other ways that teenagers communicate with each other online, it is easy for them to pick up bad advice and to place too much emphasis on the value of having romantic relationships, even if it damages other aspects of their lives. Fortunately, there is a great resource available to teach teens about their own value and how to avoid toxic relationships.
“How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk or Jerk-ette” is a free course provided by the Utah State University 4H extension. Last year, 4H sent an instructor to our Afterschool Program to provide two sessions of the course, and the kids loved it. Throughout the class, the instructor focused on trust, commitment and communication, always putting one self ahead of the relationship. It was a highly interactive class, and even though a few of our students have by now taken the class multiple times, they are still engaged and able to learn new skills. Because the class emphasizes on making level-headed assessments before jumping into a relationship it is useful in various aspects of life, and it talks about various kinds of relationships, so those students who aren’t in love crazy (yet) can learn skills to practice with their peers.
The USU 4H Extension also offers the class for adults as part of its healthy dating program. For more information, visit healthyrelationshipsutah.org