Seven Reasons to Mentor a Teen.

The Impact of Mentoring
If you ask someone about their success, you’re likely to hear about an influential mentor. Whether it’s professional, personal, or spiritual, mentoring is often a catalyst for growth and accomplishment. Regardless of the context, mentors offer steady support, hope, wise guidance, experience, and critical encouragement.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington

Why You Should Mentor a Teen
Perhaps you had a mentor who gave you a recommendation or taught you the skills needed to get a promotion at work. Or maybe you had a mentor in school who helped turn a negative experience into a positive one. Those are just a few examples of some of the short-term benefits of mentoring. But in the long run, mentoring teens helps them become happier, stable, well-functioning adults who contribute to society. So consider becoming a trusted counselor and influential supporter of someone else — mentor them — with teachings and guidance. Here are six benefits to becoming a mentor.

1. Mentors Change Lives
This statement may sound daunting, but don’t let it intimidate you. You don’t have to be famous or rich or have a fancy title to have plenty to offer a young person. You can expose a teen to new ideas. Teach them about new principles, practices or responsibilities. Or help lend support and resources they may need. There are plenty of skills you can teach to help strengthen their development. For example, helping with problem-solving, confidence building, even knowing how to respond to tough questions during a job interview. In the end, spending time with teenagers and passing along your guidance lets them know life is ripe with possibility and could lead them towards a successful path.

2. Improve Listening Skills
We often hear from tweens and teens that it’s rare they feel adults listen to them. As a mentor to teens, here is a chance to hone your listening skills further. Allow mentees to tell you what they need, and explain what kind of support they want to achieve their goals. Listening also gives them a chance to offer suggestions or try things they’ve been too shy or intimidated to speak up about. Only when you’ve listened to, and really heard your mentee, will you make the most appropriate suggestions.

3. Stay Current
A great bonus of interacting with young people is they will help keep you up-to-date in areas where you may be getting a bit stale. Whether it’s the newest social media, the most popular gadgets on the market, the latest slang, or pop culture, there is plenty to learn from teens. Let them help keep you young and improve your edge. An added bonus — you’ll get insight into what is going on in the teen world. All of this may help you better guide your own children!

“Someone empowered you – now you have a chance to do the same for someone else. Your contributions may spark their desire to give back.”

4. Polish Leadership Skills
You bring both life experience and leadership into the relationship. When teaching a young person, you’re naturally encouraged to become (and stay) an expert in whatever area you’re helping with. And because they look up to you, you’ll work to make sure you’re giving the best guidance possible. You may find yourself thinking about different approaches in how to best get your messages across. You may devise new ways of sharing valuable lessons. As you do so, you continue growing your own leadership skills while helping to shape a leader of tomorrow.

5. Get Invigorated
As adults, our everyday lives can begin to feel ordinary and routine. To a teen, our schedule is anything but. It can restore excitement for what we do when we are reminded how much it matters. Similarly, young people may also offer new perspectives on problems we’ve learned to ignore or see as “just the way things are.” Things that probably should be changed. Things that teens find unacceptable. Having young people around helps us remember that problems are solvable and we should all strive to be our best selves.

6. Community-Wide Impact
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Pay it forward.” Mentoring does just that. Someone empowered you – now you have a chance to do the same for someone else. Your contributions may spark their desire to give back. Teens with mentors often go on to mentor others and to give back to their communities. So by taking care of young people — not just your own — all children stand to benefit, as does our society at large.

7. Mentors help teens build communication skills.
Today’s teens face unique challenges. Never before has society been as connected as it is, yet so far apart. More and more social interactions are taking place online, sometimes exclusively, and students are losing valuable face-to-face communication skills. According to Melissa Ortega, a child psychologist at New York’s Child Mind Institute, “They don’t know how to handle conflict face-to-face because so many things happen through some sort of technology.” Strong mentor relationships help students build communication skills.

Photo Courtesy: TeamMates Mentoring

Published by Centre for Young Africans

The Centre for Young Africans (CFYA) is built to help create and grow the average African children and youth to achieve their aspirations for change and sustainable growth.

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