When it comes to mentoring at risk youth, there are certain things to keep in mind that will aid in the mentorship process and help the mentee to feel cared for. Be prepared with activities or topics of conversation in an effort to connect with them and figure out the things they like to do. In addition, recognize the following qualities when trying to connect with them so that you can form a strong relationship.
It is important in any mentor relationship to establish a foundation of trust. From this will stem a greater relationship, one where the youth feels like they can say what is on their mind without being judged and where they know their mentor will be there for them without fail. It is also very important to stay patient. Mentoring a youth can be an arduous process, one that you need to be willing to go through. Do not jump the gun with youth, expecting them to connect with you or spill their whole life to you right away. Instead, be patient with their timing. Every individual is different and will take a different amount of time to open up. Be attentive when they talk and remind them just how eager you are to hear what they have to say. As you listen, stay compassionate. If they talk about difficulties they are facing, whether it be personal, in school, or at home, have compassion on them. Show this by offering to help where you can, give them advice, or simply just be there to support them. Stay positive through all this so that this positivity can spill over into their lives. Positivity in any sense can cause a chain reaction. Be willing to devote your time to them. True mentorship and bonding will only flourish when you are willing and able to put time and effort into the process. People notice when you are all in versus when you are only half in, so make sure to invest yourself in the relationship.
Just as important is making sure you have activities that will promote bonding between you and your mentee, as well as their self-growth. Take into account the following list of activities for ideas when you meet up.
o Sports/recreational activities - find out what they most enjoy!
o Cooking – cook each other’s favorite meals or find out something you both like
o Board games – this is a simple way to be able to have fun and break down any initial barriers
o Cultural activities – if you come from different cultural backgrounds, be open to learning more about their culture and teach them about yours
o Shopping - promote confidence through the things you both wear
o Movies – find out the type of movie you both like and watch one together
o Music - whether it is finding similarities in taste or playing an instrument together, music is a great way to bond with someone
o Career/school based – this will help your youth in developing their skills to succeed in school or in looking towards their futures
o Build a résumé
o Look into colleges
o Take personality tests
o Apply for scholarships
Remember that mentorship will be challenging, but that’s no reason to give up. Stay confident in yourself and your mentee; it will be work but it will be worth it.
“10 Tips to Mentor Youth Like a Superstar.” Dr. Julie Connor, 10 Apr. 2017, www.drjulieconnor.com/10-mentoring-tips/.
“Examples of Mentoring Activities.” Adverse Effects | Youth.gov, youth.gov/youth topics/mentoring/activities.