“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
Often times youth dealing with excessive challenges build emotional walls as a defense mechanism, trying to protect themselves from disappointment and potential further hardship. This can manifest itself in an outward lack of interest, misbehavior or even aggression. In some cases there is a drastic divide between the students and the adult figures in their lives. As mentors, it is our job to display the consistency and kindness necessary to bridge that gap. As mentors start to work with students hiding behind this tactic, it is important to remember that with patience and a consistent presence those walls will start to come down over time..
When met with distance or silence, quickness to anger or frustration right off the bat from your mentee, Edutopia suggests that using these harder instances as an opportunity to create connections rather than consequences fosters positive youth development.
To create significant connections with your mentee, start by:
The video clip above explains the 5 C's of Positive Youth Development, five attributes mentors can inspire within their mentees through making connections. These 5 C’s are the foundation of influential mentoring, using connections to focus on promotion of competence, confidence, connection, character and caring.
Take a look to see how mentors can make a world of difference through positive connections!
"Fear not, sweet child..."
“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”- Stephen King
What is stopping you from reaching your goals? Is it time? Your finances? For our mentee Brianna at the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) it was one thing - fear- before she met her mentee, Andrew. Like many teens, Brianna struggled with self-doubt, and was losing hope for the future. She was getting frustrated with math class, and felt that she would never achieve her dream of attending college and becoming a nurse due to her circumstances as a child in foster care.
Noticing the frustration his mentee felt when she could not understand problems in her math homework assignments, Andrew was eager to help. Brianna grew angry with herself and did not want to be seen as a “dumb” kid asking questions. Andrew was very encouraging with Brianna, and assured her that he cared more about her understanding the concepts in her assignments than he cared about right answers. Through their tutoring sessions at CYDC and Andrew’s support, Brianna learned to open up and she became willing to try without the fear of being judged. “Her eyes widened when she saw the big picture and realized it's all the same just with different variables, numbers and results,” he said of the moment he noticed his mentee was no longer afraid of math. As her anxiety decreased, she confidence grew, and her math scores improved.
Andrew also helped his mentee look past high school and towards her dream of becoming a nurse. As a surprise for his mentee, he researched and compiled a list of every nursing program in South Carolina, all of the high school courses she would need to take, and steps she would need to take to get into the programs. “Seeing Brianna get excited when she realized her dream was obtainable made this whole experience worth every second,” he said of that special moment.
Andrew was able to give his mentee the encouragement she needed to build confidence in herself and have hope for her future. Because of their mentoring relationship, fear is no longer what is keeping Brianna from accomplishing her goals. She learned to never accept the “no,” and that going after your dreams is something worth pursuing. If you would like to help a child build the confidence to pursue their dreams, visit our Volunteer page to learn about the volunteer opportunities we have at Be A Mentor.