The idea of having a ‘mentor’ is not always popular among teens. Visions of awkward meetings in sterile environments, where an out-of-touch elder badgers a teen to come up with a 5 year-plan, come to mind.
I am happy to say that those times are far-gone. We now understand that mentoring can help a teen to find a role model and a friend who will help them navigate the challenges of the adolescent years. As someone who has been both the mentored and mentor, I have a great understanding of the rewards that come from a mentoring relationship. Here are five ways mentoring is helpful for your teen.
A mentor is a role model
When I was younger, I thought my mentors were the coolest people that had ever lived. They spent time with me doing the things I enjoyed. They laughed and cried with me and they always seemed to just ‘get it’. I wanted to be just like my mentors when I grew up.
Now, having been a mentor to many young people, I understand that what I found in my mentors was a role model. They gave me ‘unconditional positive regard’—they never stopped believing in me and always encouraged me to reach my potential. I also observed the way they handled situations, and through this learned about integrity and what confidence looked like. This has allowed me to develop confidence as I grew up.
You are supported as a parent
Parents often say to me that their teen doesn’t seem to listen to their advice. Well, Mum or Dad, you’re not alone. It is really normal for parents to feel like this and for a young person to be somewhat resistant to their parent’s advice.
When a teen hits puberty they get confused and frustrated very easily. More often then not, teens will begin to value the advice given by peers or the media more then yours, simply due to the stage of growth they are in.
With a mentor you can stress less. They often become a voice of reason amongst the chaos, and your teen will generally be more open to their advice. I have been the recipient of many texts and phone calls from young people, who have asked for support in talking to their parents about what they are experiencing.
Rest in the knowledge that your teen’s mentor supports you as a parent. They will keep what your teen says to them in confidence, and if their safety is at risk, you will be the first to know about it.
Your teen feels understood and valued
A youth mentor will engage with your teen in a comfortable environment. Whether that be in a room with some comfy couches, at the basketball court, or having a chat and coffee, a mentor will always aim for your child to feel secure when they meet.
The goal is to spend quality time with your teen in a setting where they will feel most at ease, whilst also creating opportunity for them to talk if they desire to. This approach allows a teen to feel valued and understood, as the mentor aims to specifically cater for their interests.
You may not hear much feedback from your teen as to what was discussed at a mentoring session, but you will hear something along the lines of, ‘we had a kick of the footy’, or ‘we listened to some music’ or ‘we went to this cool café’’. Connection is built through activity and spending time together. You can be sure that something of importance happened during that mentoring session and that it lead to your child feeling understood and valued as an individual.
Your teen has another ‘safe’ person
A ‘safe’ person is someone that your teen feels able to talk with about whatever they are facing. A safe person knows how to handle crisis situations and is able to provide comfort, advice, encouragement and support, appropriate to your teen.
In a world where young people are significantly lacking in face-to-face connection, a safe person is essential in order for your teen to make positive choices and find the help they need.
Your teen is able to set goals
During my teen years, many people told me what I should or shouldn’t do. After awhile it all got pretty confusing. I became stuck in a rut, feeling like I wasn’t able to do well at anything, even if I dared to try. Having my mentor come alongside and help me to identify what goals I could achieve was a Godsend. Together, we discussed the different options I had and what steps I needed to take to fulfill them.
This meant I felt empowered to make positive choices. Instead of feeling like a failure when I made a mistake, I knew my mentor supported me unconditionally and would encourage me to try again. A youth mentor wants your teen to thrive and become a fulfilled, giving member of society, and they will do all they can to help them to fulfill their potential.
Are you concerned about your young person? Would you like your teen to be mentored? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.