Robin's Mentoring Matters Blog

Tips, ideas, thoughts and opinions to motivate and inspire all who guide young people as they journey through adolescence to adulthood.

12 ways you can be the best parent and mentor

Have you ever feared the unknown future? Have you ever been through a really tough and challenging situation? A relationship breakdown? Failed an important test or exam? A family crisis? A time you felt you were being unfairly treated? A financial loss? Just missing out on a dream goal? The recipient of an unfair decision? Bullying of any sort? It seems as though these are some of the issues that many of today’s young people are grappling with. They are seeking meaning and purpose for their lives, want to feel cared for and valued and are struggling with other questions like: What jobs will still be around when I finish school? What jobs will there be available to me when I graduate from University or Tertiary Study? How will robotics and Artificial Intelligence impact my career prospects? These are all legitimate questions and our young people need to be encouraged and supported as they journey through adolescence to fulfil their potential, so let’s consider 12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers. Lou Thompson, who has worked extensively in New Zealand and Australia in the areas of education psychology, behavior management and Special Needs, has written books on developing self-esteem in young people, as well as mentoring youth. 12 qualities to nurture resilient teenagers The following 12 points include some of the ideas Lou has shared over the years to help anyone working with young people develop their resiliency and a healthy self-esteem and which I have taken the liberty to expand upon in places. On further reflection, most of these points could be adapted and applied to anyone...

30 practical tips for the BEST life!

What advice were you given about striving to have the best life when you were a teenager? Who had the most influence on you with their thoughts? What have you remembered? What 5 tips would you share with a teenager? I have been spending time reflecting on the interactions I have been having with a variety of people in recent months. Thoughts and ideas spring to mind. As adolescents journey to adulthood and their brains are still developing, here are 30 tips which will assist them to become the best they can be – come to think of it, they should probably be called 30 Tips for the Best Life, as they can probably be adapted to the lives of adults as well. 30 Tips for the BEST life There will be many more tips than these, so regard this list as a start. Attitude – never ever forget that you choose your attitude and how you respond to all that life throws at you. Live in hope and work hard at taking a positive, constructive attitude into everything you do and into all your meaningful relationships. Ask – never stop asking questions no matter how trivial you might think they are. When others share their stories with you, you will gain knowledge which could significantly impact your life decisions. Apologise – no-one is perfect. When you make a mistake, say the wrong thing, forget to do something you promised to do … whatever it might be, front up and be genuinely sorry. Celebrate – celebrate the small and large victories; the times you achieve a relatively simple goal...

Why you should never quit on a teenager – Billy’s story

Have you ever wanted to give up mentoring a teenager? Or just felt you were getting nowhere? Or felt totally frustrated about being a mentor? Maybe a combination of all these thoughts and more? This relationship seemed tougher than climbing the highest mountain? “I’m  ….. uh ….. in trouble again!” That unmistakably negative 15 year old voice in my ear as I drove across the Auckland Harbor Bridge to my North Shore home. Monday evening. Could the day really get any worse?  I had lost two potentially major business deals and now Billy. “What’s the trouble, Billy?” I asked, desperately trying to remember some mentor training tips. Disapprove of the behaviour, but love the child. “It’s that peach-head Mr Squires. Says I cheated in the Maths test, but I didn’t, Tony, I swear …….” “I believe you, Billy.” “No-one else does!” A hint of anxiety in his voice. A short silence. “My dad’s going to murder me when he hears I’m internally suspended.” I pictured a terrified Billy, shoulders drooped, looking up to his dad, a brute of a man, owner of a building construction company,  hesitatingly breaking this news. Would this be the last straw in an already fragile relationship? “Where are you, Billy?” “The Mall.” “Okay, meet me at the Food Court in 15 minutes.” “What’s the point? This whole program sucks. My friends were right …… I’ll always be a loser! Stuff school!” “Hey, Billy, meet me …….. please?!” Did he detect my concern or the feeling of irritability, the result of a tough day in the office? Both probably. Billy didn’t miss much. “Uh …...

How can we develop more resilient teenagers in this fast-paced world?

What can you remember about your childhood? What were the fun activities you were involved in? How did you keep yourself occupied? Who were your friends? Any special friends? What made these friendships so special? I remember we climbed trees, created our own games indoors and outdoors, rode our bicycles, without helmets, to the local Park where we played on the variety of playground equipment available – jungle gyms, seesaws, swings, roundabouts – and caught tadpoles in the stream running through the Park, all without any adult supervision. We walked or rode to school without adult supervision and caught public transport, even in the evenings, without adult supervision. We jumped into a teacher’s car or another parent’s car if we were going to a sports match without any need of permission slips signed by our parents. We listened to the Top 20 hits of the week on a Sunday night from Radio Lourenco Marques (I was raised in Cape Town) on a transistor radio; we watched the international sports teams practising and mingled with them before and after matches, with no security guards evident; we listened to the radio, as we did not have Television – Kit Grayson Rides the Range or something like that was  daily special at about 5.00 pm; Pick-a-Box, a Quiz Show; Squad Cars, a Detective program; Mark Saxon or something similar …….  yes, those were the days and how different from life today. The rare Computers were massive machines in large office areas with punch cards …. and so I could go on. These thoughts occurred after I read an interesting Blog by Occupational...

Will this teenager’s plea for understanding touch your life?

Do you ever wonder why a teenager you are trying to communicate with seems to be on another planet? Or, seems to have too many mood swings for you to know how to cope with? Or, seems highly motivated one day and then lacking purpose and direction the next? Or, lacks self-belief and tries to cover this up in different ways? Or, seems to have ambitions, yet lacks the determination and perseverance to achieve these goals, maybe even dreams? Most of us have probably asked ourselves many of these questions from time to time. Sometimes it is helpful to pause and think back to our own teenage years and how we were responding to all the challenges in those days. As teenagers journey through their adolescent years and their brains are still developing, they, too, are confused and trying to respond to the many questions they are asking themselves, examples of which might include: Who am I? Where am I going? What do others think of me? Why does no-one seem to be listening to me? Who can I trust? Who are my friends? Well, perhaps, it’s a good time to pause and allow a teenager to share her thoughts which may or may not help your relationships with these young people. Strive to reach your potential I encourage young people to work hard to reach their potential. This requires them to set their personal goals which we discuss to ensure that they are achievable, realistic, measurable and specific. This means that they no longer have to compare themselves with anyone else, which many are doing, and can simply...

And you think your child might be addicted to the Internet?

“If they fail, we fail together, so it’s our problem not their problem and one we can solve together – children should not feel left alone with failure?” (Jennifer Fox Eades) Can you remember, as an adolescent, how you dealt with self-doubt or friendship issues? What did you do to feel you belonged? Or, did you never feel you belonged to a peer group? Why was that? Were you able to turn to anyone you trusted to guide you through that challenging time? How did things work out? I remember building a wall around myself for a while, not wanting to communicate, except at a superficial level, with my peers, even my family, faking illness because I didn’t want to go to school, trying unsuccessfully to be ‘cool’ so I could join a peer group and have that important sense of belonging that all adolescents crave, occasionally wishing I was someone else and not liking myself. There was no internet in those days. I wonder how I would have responded if I could have done some browsing? When psychologists and neuroscientists describe the adolescent years as confusing, I can easily identify with that word from my own adolescent experiences and, of course, having been a teacher for so many years and mentored hundreds and hundreds of adolescents in that place of confusion, observing the highs and lows of their journeys through adolescence to adulthood, I probably have many stories to share. Brittany’s story 16-year old Brittany (not her real name) shared with me issues she was having with her best friend. Brittany was confused and also said she was finding all the...

10 Habits of High Flying Teenagers YOU can coach

When you were a teenager, did you ever feel that your life had no purpose? Maybe you were drifting? Did you feel the pressure of having to conform to peers to feel that you belonged? Did you have bold dreams , yet were afraid to chase them? Why was this? Did you risk failure to achieve something special? Did you allow either positive or negative friends to influence you the most? Did you have to overcome some obstacle, illness or other setback? Mark, a talented sportsman, Brittany, revealing signs of antisocial behavior, Ollie, disengaging from school, Holly, feeling overwhelmed with life’s challenges and Mia, facing the real prospect of failing, were young people I worked with over a period of time, encouraging them to strive to reach their potential. Although these are not their real names, each one of them made significant choices and now, some years later, to the best of my knowledge, they are all achieving great things because each of them followed the overwhelming majority of the 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be which helped them develop lives with meaning and purpose. The idea of framing a teenager’s life around these 10 Habits was developed over many years of coaching and mentoring young people. These habits provide an achievable set of guidelines or targets one can chat to teenagers about. When a young person feels unconditionally cared for, that their opinions are listened to and valued and they begin to start seeing some meaning and purpose in their lives, they are well on the way to fulfilling their potential. 10 Habits to Become...

Have you celebrated the mentors in your life?

When last did you thank a mentor who journeyed alongside you at some point in your life? Especially a mentor who walked alongside you during the challenging and turbulent teenage years as your brain was still developing and you were trying to find meaning and purpose to your life? I have personally thanked most of my mentors and they are always so surprised when I thank them. They had no idea they had had such an influence on my life? These were the people who encouraged me when I was filled with self-doubt, the people who spoke to a vision of my future they could see that I could not at the time, the people who did their best to empathize and understand the journey I was on, the roller-coaster of emotions, the people who gave of themselves selflessly because they cared about my wellbeing. Three key questions for the 21st Century How do we motivate and inspire the millions of young people who are drifting aimlessly to become the best they can be? How do we move alongside young people trying to find their way through the confusing adolescent years? How do we galvanize communities to develop a global youth mentoring crusade or an education revolution which places the family at the heart of the holistic learning journey? These are some of the questions I am regularly asking myself, though I have no clear answers, other than knowing that something has to happen to create a global movement that sees the skills, knowledge and life experience of millions of potential volunteer adult mentors being shared with young people...

Teenagers share truths about the powerful impact of mentors in their lives

When you were a teenager, who, other than your parents and friends, had a significant influence on your life? Who was the light in a season of darkness? The go to person? The strength you were looking for? What qualities or positive attributes did this person or these people have that impacted you? HOW did they positively impact your life? How long did the relationship last? Philip was my History teacher when I was aged about 14. He brought the subject alive, had a wonderful sense of humour and fired my interest in the subject that would finally lead to my decision to become a History teacher. He was reliable, consistent, had no favorites and was scrupulously fair and a man of integrity and a deep faith. I don’t recall ever having a 1:1 conversation with him outside the classroom – I might be wrong – though he always exchanged an affirming smile when we passed one another on the school campus. He probably does not know what a positive impact he had on my life at a time when I was seeking meaning and purpose having long since retired. Reflecting on my own experiences motivated me to do more, made more urgent when I heard of the tragic passing of a young woman who had been such a wonderfully caring role model and diligent student at a school where I had been the school principal a few years earlier. I have converted about 45 blogs to short video clips, all of which are linked to encouraging youth to reach their potential. These are available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHzVfIdmVQEwxTgvNKgp22g?view_as=subscriber  And there...

The 10 most important 21st Century Emotional, Entrepreneurial and Employability Skills for you to share with teenagers

What were the most important skills you needed for the world of work when you were at school? Did anyone ever discuss these with you? How did you decide what career to follow? How has the world changed since you were at school? Did you appreciate there were different roads you could travel to attain your career goals? Did anyone every explain this to you? We can all probably remember our times at school when we asked why were studying a certain subject? How was it relevant to our lives beyond school? I know, I used to ask this question often, as so much of what I seemed to be learning appeared to be irrelevant and boring at the time – indeed, as I think back now, some of that work still seems to have been irrelevant or, perhaps my teachers did not show me the relevance. Maybe I was not listening …. I was a normal teenager, yet I think today’s world is demanding more creativity and innovation as the Digital Age expands and evolves. I have thought about all these questions a great deal, read relevant books and articles and worked with hundreds of young people, during which time we would have discussed these questions as we explored hopes and dreams. I have collated all my information under 10 skills as an encouragement to anyone working with young people, though they are as relevant to anyone of any age seeking meaningful work in the 21st Century. Author Tony Wagner, in his challenging book, Creative Innovators – The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, writes:...