Why your mentoring of teenagers is critically important

Why your mentoring of teenagers is critically important

Think back to your teenage years. Which adults had the most positive influence on your life? Why was this? What can you learn from that experience or those experiences and pass on to the next generation? When I was a teenager there were no mobile phones, social media platforms or X-Box games and so on and even then it was challenging. I was confused, often frustrated, moved between having high-self-esteem and low self-esteem, had to work through challenging family times and experienced the normal mood swings of any teenager. Our teachers and other adults in our lives did not have the benefit of adolescent brain research that shapes so much of our thinking today. Yet I sought out coaches, especially, who spoke to my potential I was not seeing, who listened to me and who empathically guided me through those challenging years. Mentoring guru, Marc Freedman, wrote one of the greatest books I have read on youth mentoring, The Kindness of Strangers – Adult Mentors, Urban Youth and the New Voluntarism, in 1993. It is as valid today as it was back then. Freedman mentions what he refers to as “a set of timely and attractive properties” that helps explain the emergence of mentoring “as a means of achieving social linkage”. 6 properties to understand the power of mentoring I am sharing these six properties and give all the credit to Marc Freedman for the content of the Blog, extracts being taken from pages 56 to 58 of his book. Mentoring is simple. The “one to one” concept takes an overwhelming set of social problems, such as those associated...
Life-changing moments when you invest time in the life of a teenager

Life-changing moments when you invest time in the life of a teenager

Can you remember a moment when an adult invested time in your teenage life and made a positive and significant impact? How did your non-judgmental cheerleader encourage you? What three positive qualities can you remember about them? How did they guide you to be yourself and not bow to negative peer pressure? Time and time again I hear stories of the way mentors, often teachers, have impacted the lives of teenagers. In so many cases the adult had no idea they were having such a positive influence. My non-judgmental cheerleaders over the years had some similar qualities – all spoke to the potential in me that I could not see; all had a great sense of humour; all showed empathy towards me, quietly moved alongside me and encouraged me; all would never accept a half-hearted effort from me and taught me to strive to be the best person I could be – all developed meaningful relationships with me and there was always mutual respect when we interacted. Without even realizing it, some of these people became significant mentors during my life journey. Pass on the legacy And those qualities these teachers and coaches expressed towards me are those I have worked hard to develop when working with teenagers over the years. So often we forget the power of the smile, one encouraging phrase shared at an important moment in a vulnerable teenager’s life, a friendly wave from a distance or an encouraging SMS simply because we think it might be appreciated. It is in these small, seemingly insignificant moments that we can actually be life changers in the lives...
How you can help a teenager set personal goals – quick, proven tips

How you can help a teenager set personal goals – quick, proven tips

What would you do if you could leave school today and had all the qualifications you need? You have to pay rent, transport costs, mobile phone costs, clothing, food and daily living expenses and so on. So, you must acquire a job, which includes being self-employed and setting up their own business! That’s the type of conversation I often have when I meet teenagers and have begun to establish a meaningful relationship with them. “I don’t know!” is not an acceptable answer, as I remind them that they have a good brain that needs to be used 🙂 This conversation will inevitably unpack a passion and, once we have identified that, we can start talking about careers in the future, maybe including an entrepreneurial project while the student is still at school. If the latter, we talk about meeting a successful entrepreneur for a further chat. We explore the qualifications needed, skills required, university or some other tertiary institution that will have to be attended. We talk about living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We start identifying strengths and link these to the goal getting journey, as this will build a more resilient teenager. And so, the goal setting process begins. As the student seems to have a meaning and purpose to his or her life, they can see that action will need to be taken to achieve this fulfillment of a passion. In so many young lives, this conversation becomes the game-changer. Suddenly, things begin to clear and they see a pathway into a bright and potentially exciting future. 15 Goal Getting Tips for Effective Mentors You can...
10 proven powerful mentoring tips for your journey with Teenagers

10 proven powerful mentoring tips for your journey with Teenagers

When you think about any adult who motivated and inspired you as a teenager, what do you remember about them? Why did they have such a positive impact on your life? Dave was one of my teachers, also my Cricket coach at one point and later my mentor who guided the development of my teaching skills. He was tough, uncompromising at times, set and expected nothing but the best effort, yet behind the tough exterior was a compassionate and caring man, a champion of the underdog. Our friendship lasted for over 40 years, at which point Dave succumbed to Cancer. Research shows that mentoring journeys lasting more than 12 months result in most mentees enjoying improved relationships with parents; better connections with school; less of an inclination to experiment with drugs, alcohol and other antisocial behaviors; enjoying greater levels of self-worth, better social skills and improved academic results. Mentoring involves making an emotional investment in a mentee’s life; building trust and encouraging; making a positive impact on a young life often experiencing confusion and self-doubt. 10 proven mentoring tips I find it difficult to determine what are the most important tips to offer a volunteer adult mentor, as so much will depend on the circumstances confronting both the mentor and the young person he or she is moving alongside. Here are 10 positive, proven and powerful tips to encourage and guide any mentors working with teenagers. When applied you will see the positive impact you are having on a young life. Encourage your mentees to develop a personal photograph of themselves in the future and to hold on to...
How you can empathize with teenagers

How you can empathize with teenagers

Can you remember how you felt about yourself when you were aged 13 or 14? Did you have loads of self-confidence or many self-doubts? When you looked in the mirror did you feel lovable and capable or unsure of who you were, did not like the image before your eyes and had many confused thoughts? How did you respond to peer pressure? A while ago I asked some young people, aged 13 and 14, to complete an anonymous questionnaire about how they view themselves. Their responses highlighted the importance of connecting with their school community, preferably having some non-judgmental adult cheerleaders to encourage them on their journey. Empathize with teenagers “I am not good with teamwork.” (male) “I care about others and don’t like to see my friends hurt.” (female) “I need to stand up for people more. But I am positive and I want to make the world a better place.” (male) “I am not scared to stand up and tell people what’s right.” (female) “I see that I have lots of friends and feel safe in that community. I stand up for what’s right even though there are consequences.” (male) “I see that I am headstrong and stand up for what is right. I also care about people and want to make a positive difference in the world. I could improve in knowing when I need help or not.” (female) “I am more willing to help others more than myself. I am not very confident in myself.” (male) “I am stubborn, but I know when to step down. I care about others and want to help them...
10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

Did you have any superstitions or strange habits when you were an adolescent? I certainly did. When I was padding up to bat in a Cricket match, I always put my left pad on first. Why on earth did I do that? It seems so strange when I think about it now. You will see some of the top Tennis players, for example, have superstitions – how they walk off the court at the end of the game; how they move at the end of a point; how they lay out their seating area; mannerisms before they serve a ball …. Or, did you have something special you did to rid yourself of exam nerves, as Angie did? “You’ll think this is really silly,” Angie said to me when we were chatting about positive preparation for her final exams. “Nothing is silly if it helps you stay calm and rids you of stress,” I responded. “Well, before I write my exams, I listen to a whole lot of my favorite Disney film songs,” Angie informed me with a broad smile. “It just works for me and makes me feel calm and happy.” “And your brain is releasing some chemicals that will help you feel positive and calm, a ‘feel good’ effect,” I was able to offer as a word of encouragement. Australian psychologist, Andrew Fuller, comments in his excellent book – well worth reading, as it is loaded with helpful tips – Tricky Teens – How to create a great relationship with your teen … without going crazy!, about the power of music to access our emotions and suggests...