Mentoring works. Here’s why.
Ever wondered why your kids won’t talk to you about what’s going on in their lives? You’re not alone. But they don’t have to be either.
Have you ever been lucky enough to have been mentored? By a good mentor, I mean. Someone who had your best interests in mind, who was non-judgmental, and only wanted to see you succeed in life? I think a lot of us have experienced relationships where we might have regarded someone as our mentor, but not all of these experiences have necessarily been positive. Values or expectations may not have aligned and sometimes caused friction. I’d like you to put those aside for a moment, because I’d like to tell you why youth mentoring is such an epic gift to a child navigating adolescence right now.
I’ve been mentoring kids for as long as I’ve been teaching. It sort of comes with the territory if you care about your students. What I’ve learnt through teaching and specific mentor training is that the role of the mentor is an exceptionally unique one; it’s a role that requires the mentor to check their ego at the door and be fully open, present and supportive towards the child in their care. Trust is paramount, and the quickest way to build trust is to listen, to be devoid of judgment, and show empathy and compassion. A little humour helps, too!
Now, those things can be really hard to come by in a teen’s world. It’s fair to say that to some extent, we all have an agenda when it comes to the relationships we have with people. Nobody’s fault! It’s just how it is when you care about someone. With your friends, you want connection, reciprocity, fun, to feel included… with your children, you want them to succeed, be happy, be well, be safe, and so on… with your employer, you want recognition, appreciation, mentally stimulating work, a raise please…? You get the picture. Sometimes our experience of a mentor relationship has fit this sort of description. Crucially, this is not what youth mentoring is about.
Youth mentoring is gold. The mentor has no agenda, other than to listen and support the child. This makes it so much easier for kids to open up to us and share what’s going on in their worlds. They don’t need to stress that they’ll disappoint or worry us. They don’t need to feel embarrassed, because we ain’t telling anyone anything*, oh and we don’t judge them, right? They can say what they feel like saying because we aren’t their friend, and we know it’s not personal. We’re just here. And that is such a relief for so many kids to know.
*unless it’s crucial to their or another’s safety of course
I love mentoring because I see how much of a difference it can make. If you hop on google and look at statistics and benefits of youth mentoring, you’ll find a whole load of data, studies and information singing its praises. One study done in 2010 by The Youth Mentoring Network in New Zealand interestingly found that mentoring programmes that focused mainly on educational goals were not as effective as those that focused more on emotional / psychological elements of the child. This is really interesting, because it does show how it’s not all about pushing our kids to succeed and having a good educational mentor or teacher helping them; to get the best out of your child, it’s about having someone totally separate from school, caring for their mental health and wellbeing. We might want our kids to succeed in the classroom, but surely not to the detriment of their mental health. Academic goals are fine, but there most definitely needs to be a balance.
That’s what I do! And I love it. I love the results I get with my mentees, and the best moments are when they have these breakthroughs that leave you going WHAT! WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! And fist pumping them all over the shop. It’s gold, and sheesh do they feel awesome too.
I’ve got a bunch of new spots available for mentoring in my new space, Starseeds HQ, in Takapuna. It’s fun, colourful and we have bean bags, natural light and tea! So much goodness. I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to claim one of these spots for your daughter, helping her go into 2021 positively, or even if you just want to hear more about how this mentoring stuff works!
Lots of love and sparkles x
Bec is the human behind Rebel Starseeds. She loves being outside, avocados and anything to do with the ocean. She also likes to write a lot, especially about things to do with wellbeing for girls + women, in the hope that she can find help others empowerment and joy from within themselves with a little reconnection, rewilding and rebelling (where necessary!)
About the author.