Research has shown that the better the quality of your relationships, the more likely you are to be happy. So, being a great friend to someone and knowing that friends have your back is good for your wellbeing. Given that adolescence is a time of changing friendship networks, due to changing social needs and external pressures, friendships can also cause issues such as increased vulnerability, jealousy, conflict and feelings of rejection. In this video clip, young people share their thoughts about what makes a good friend, the importance of friendships in their life, ways to support friends during tough times, and how to negotiate toxic friendships. Given how important friendships are in young people’s lives, these skills can make a big difference to their mental health and wellbeing.

Year level



30 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies


Social awareness

Relationship skills

Responsible decision-making

Learning intention

Students can recognise and manage healthy and unhealthy friendships.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • work together to identify the features of unhealthy and healthy friendships

  • identify appropriate conversation starters to use in negotiating unhealthy friendships.

Materials needed

  • The video 'Bow out' on friendships

  • What makes a good friend

  • Dealing with a toxic friendship

  • Post-it notes for students

  • Student notebooks or laptops

  • A whiteboard/smartboard

Mapped to

  • This resource is not mapped to a curriculum.

Activity 1

Post-it notes

15 minutes

*Tips for safe facilitation*

Be aware that unhealthy relationships may exist in the classroom. Here are some helpful tips to manage these. Discourage personal disclosures.Establish clear classroom expectations and boundaries. Model expected behaviours – e.g. active listening, respect. Maintain a learning environment free from bullying, exclusion and harassment. Allow students to withdraw if they find issues personally confronting.

As a group, watch this video clip on friendships.

On the whiteboard, write these three questions:

  • What makes a good friend?

  • What are some practical ways to be a good friend?

  • What are the signs of a toxic friendship?

Working individually

Ask students to answer each question on a Post-it note and to place their response under the relevant question on the whiteboard. For helpful hints, check out:

Working as a class group

As a class group, identify key themes from the student responses. Ask the students to record these in their notebooks or on laptops.

Activity 2

Practical actions

15 minutes

Working with a partner

One of the biggest challenges in negotiating toxic friendships is developing the confidence to have difficult conversations with friends.

Using ‘ReachOut guidelines for negotiating toxic friendships’ for support, ask students to work with a partner to develop conversation starters that could be used when negotiating toxic friendships.


Friendships can be a great source of happiness and support for young people, but they can also bring up feelings of jealousy, conflict, sadness and stress. Knowing the signs to look out for and ways to negotiate a toxic friendship can help them to manage the challenges that friendships may throw at them.


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