Teens are starving for attention from an adult who believes in them.
A teen who doesn’t have a healthy relationship with an adult often lacks confidence. They are less likely to develop communication and social skills needed to establish strong personal boundaries because no one is available to be a role model. They have no one to turn to for guidance when they’re suffering and need to talk.
Teens who lack the presence of a significant adult in their lives are targeted for bullying more often than peers who have strong adult support. Many teens find support they crave through participation in gangs. They are 80 percent more likely to struggle with depression and six times more likely to attempt suicide (NCBI, 2013).
The good news is this: Our kids don’t have to drown in silent desperation. Youth motivational speaker, Josh Shipp, believes, “Every kid is ONE caring adult away from being a success story.” A mentor is a torch who helps kids see into their futures. Mentoring offers emotional support, guidance, and encouragement for lonely youth.A mentor is a torch who helps kids see into their futures. - Julie Connor, Ed.D.Click To Tweet
Youth mentoring is a process of matching young people with a caring adult. Adult mentors are usually unrelated to the child or teen and work as volunteers through community-, school-, or church-based programs.
Training is essential to the mentor preparation process. Not every volunteer possesses the qualities, emotional stability, or skills to be a mentor. The most successful mentoring programs interview potential mentors and offer mentor training. They consistently check in with mentors and mentees to monitor progress and track feedback.
The Effective Strategies for Providing Quality Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities series provide mentoring program coordinators and mentors with tools to build quality mentoring programs. They outlined 10 tips for adults who want to be successful youth mentors:
“Whoever it may be, you have the power to make a positive and significant difference in their lives,” insists Josh Shipp. “Do for ONE kid what you wish you could do for ALL kids.”
These are Josh’s suggestions for effective mentoring.
Step 1: Find out what they’re into.
Step 2: Spend time doing what matters to them because they matter to you.
Step 3: Your investment of time will lead to influential conversations
The presence or absence of a consistent, caring adult in a young person’s life often determines whether they thrive or drop out of school; whether they dream and believe in their unlimited potential or feel hopeless without a future. As a mentor, you will have many opportunities to close this gap and ensure someone has the support needed to be optimistic and excited about his or her own life. One young person at a time.
How has an adult positively impacted your life? In what ways can you pay it forward?
Use these suggestions from How to Be a Good Role Model to consider ways you can inspire teens.
If you’re wondering how to start a conversation with a teen, consider these tips from Why We Must Talk to Young People About Their Dreams.
Children and teens are talking. Using these tips to encourage dialogue and Hear the Voice of Our Youth.
Teens are talking about all kinds of issues (with or without adult permission). Join the discussion with suggestions from Politics, God, Race, Sex, & Other Controversial Topics Kids Discuss at School.
If you want to involve more young people in your organization, check out these tips from What You Must Do to Invite & Involve Youth (So They Want to Stay).