Mentoring is a partnership between two people (i.e., your child and the mentor). Mentoring provides teens with the opportunity to think about how they are growing, learning, and developing.
Teen mentors can help teens look at their lives in new ways. Prior to participating in a mentoring program, a teen might not see the importance of school, behave in ways that are risky or cause trouble, and not place value on relationships. However, mentors (especially those that a teen can relate to) can make a big difference in a teen’s life.
Research shows that teens who had mentors were absent for half as many days of school, felt more competent about doing schoolwork, and skipped fewer classes. Also, students who had mentors in their program said that working hard in school was important to them, going to school and getting a good education was also important to them, and graduating from college was important.
Benefits of Having Teen Mentors
Here are a few benefits of teen mentoring:
- increased participation in academics
- better grades
- higher aspirations for the future
- involvement in and care for their community
- improved interpersonal skills
- stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
- more involvement in preparing for college and their future
- avoidance of drugs and alcohol
- enhanced self esteem and self confidence
- healthier lifestyle choices
Tips For Parents
If you are a parent of a teen with behavioral issues or self-esteem concerns or other developmental problems, you might consider getting a mentor for your child. If you do, here are suggestions to help your teen get the most out of the mentoring experience:
Set up a regular weekly day and time to meet. It’s likely that your teen’s mentor has a busy life, as you do. Having a regular meeting time can facilitate clear boundaries about when your teen would meet with their mentor, for how long, and where. It can also minimize scheduling conflicts.
Bring an agenda. When your teen has an agenda for a meeting with their mentor, it can help make the meeting purposeful. Agendas should have a clear itinerary regarding what to cover including the issues, concerns, and questions you or your teen has for the mentor. To avoid wasting time, your teen can make a list of everything that needs to be covered. This can also facilitate the direction of meetings since in the beginning, a mentor may not know what topics are important to you and your teen. It’s important to know too that in the beginning it will be important to establish rapport. So although it might seem like your teen is not doing much in the first few meetings with their mentor, this in fact is not wasted time; it’s an opportunity to connect and build rapport.
Share a list of your goals. A significant part of the mentor-mentee relationship is to have a guide that can facilitate your teen’s ability to achieve goals. Having your teen clearly communicate which goals you want to receive support with will facilitate the success of the mentoring relationship.
These are suggestions for making the most of your teen’s relationship with teen mentors. Following these tips might also help bring the benefits listed above into reality.