The following is a collection of tips, articles, and resource links that will help you in the role of mentor.
Thoughts to Ponder for Successful Mentoring Relationships
- Be yourself;
- Model appropriate behavior;
- Be dependable;
- Avoid getting in the middle between parent and student;
- Be clear and consistent;
- Give advice sparingly;
- Be realistic;
- Accept your student for who they are;
- Be patient;
- See your student as an individual;
- Do not criticize;
- Be an active listener;
- Do not pass judgments;
- Do not use a lot of “shoulds”;
- Set limits of proper conduct;
- Be honest;
- Consider your relationship important;
- Do not make promises you cannot keep;
- Structure creative, imaginative activities;
- Remember what it was like to be that age;
- Have fun;
- Be flexible;
- Acknowledge accomplishments;
- Give encouragement.
Tips for Building Positive Relationships
A Mentor Listens
Mentors can encourage mentees to talk about their feelings, dreams and concerns. In the role of active listener, the mentor puts aside impulses to direct the mentee in favor of encouraging a process of self-direction.
A Mentor Encourages
Mentors can help the mentee build self-confidence, self-esteem and cultural pride to last a lifetime by focusing on their talents, assets and strengths.
A Mentor Builds on the Positive
Whenever possible, approach the goals, issues and/or problems of your mentee in a positive light, building on related strengths that your mentee may have demonstrated. You can be the one to help your mentee see the connection between their actions of today and their dreams and goals of tomorrow. Be as concrete and relevant as possible.
A Mentor Turns Everything Into a Learning Experience
Keep an eye out for learning opportunities and teachable moments. If your mentee expresses an interest in someone or something, no matter how slight, take advantage of the situation and help them develop the interest. Over time, they may learn to be aware of and be creative with their own potential.
A Mentor Advocates
As an advocate, the mentor speaks up for the mentee in a situation where a caring adult is needed. In this role, mentors link the mentees to resources to which they might not know about or be able to take advantage of. As an advocate, you can use the connections and associations you have in school, in the community or with businesses.
A Mentor Models Behavior
What you do is as important as what you say, so use your behavior to promote learning and positive development in your mentee. Words reinforced by behavior are that much more powerful when they are consistently reinforced by behavior. You are competing against numerous negative influences, such as television, advertising and peers, so be persistent and patient. Find creative solutions to problems your mentee brings up, encouraging discussion and the seeking out alternatives. Engage your mentee in a discussion in which you explain the reasoning behind your behavior. The discussions, it is hoped, will prompt your mentee to discuss the reasoning behind their own behavior.
Mistakes to Avoid
“Call me if you need me.”
Mentors believe they are offering an open door to their mentees and may be sincere in their statement. However, because of the \”awe factor\”, mentees hestitate, then never call and the relationship fizzles.
Better: Early on, schedule specific times to meet outside of the ASPIRE calendar. In addition, help your mentees choose at least one goal to work on with your assistance. This will help your partnership succeed.
Promising too much
In an effort to please, or sell their mentees on the potential value of the relationship, the mentors often offer unlimited time, numerous activities and lifetime friendship.
Better: Think small in the beginning. Offer a realistic amount of time, perhaps two hours a month, and reasonable activities. Do not promise an instant friendship until and unless it makes sense and you have gotten to know each other.
Discouraging mentees’ goals
When mentees share their visions or goals, some mentors squash those dreams with discouraging or even ridiculing words and body language.
Better: Allow your mentees to make their own decisions. Help them explore the positives and negatives of their planned goals and stay neutral or positive while they make their attempts.
Working Harder than the Mentees.
These well-meaning mentors devote far more time, energy and resources to the mentees’ development than the mentees do for themselves.
Better: Insist that your mentees hold up their part of the relationship, including keeping commitments, attending events and working towards their goals. Monitor the balance and speak up if necessary.
RESPECT is another key ingredient for successful mentoring relationships.
Resist using pat answers and manipulation.
Exercise self-responsibility by owning your perceptions and feelings. Use “I” statements.
Suspend critical judgements and conclusions about mentees perceptions, feelings, or motivations.
Practice patience in word and deed.
Extend yourself appropriately. Be honest about your personal, ethical, and moral limits.
Consider confidentiality. Avoid secrets but maintain boundaries.
Take one another seriously. Avoid condescending, patronizing or belittling attitudes and words.
Several licensed pychologists provide tips for mentors, tips for mentees, things to do with your mentee, as well as offering for purchase – videos and guides.
Mentoring.org is a nationwide resource containing multiple mentoring program resources including Training, Events, a free mentoring guide, as well as information on starting your own mentoring program.
The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania includes real mentoring stories, testimonials, additional training, news, and events.