How to Mentor a Teenager

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This article is co-authored by Archana Ramamoorthy, MS, and wikiHow staff writer Hannah Madden. Archana Ramamoorthy is CTO for North America at Workday. She is a product expert, a security advocate, and strives to enable more inclusion in the tech industry. Archana holds a BS from SRM University and an MS from Duke University and has worked in product management for over 8 years. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 48,103 times.

Having a good role model is an important part of becoming a healthy young adult. Because some teens don’t have quality role models in their lives, they may need a mentor or guide as they move into the early stages of adulthood. If you feel called to mentor a teen in your community, you can use a positive attitude and a strong moral foundation to guide them in the right direction in life.

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    Get to know your neighborhood through fun activities. You can go out to eat, play basketball or hang out in the park. This should be a fun time for both of you, so choose an activity that you both enjoy.[1]

    • You can go see a movie, go to the mall, visit an arcade, or ride your bike around town.
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    Build trust with your mentor by keeping his word. Make sure you arrive on time for appointments, stick to planned activities, and respond to your messages as quickly as possible. If you are ever late or have to cancel, please contact your tutor as soon as possible.[2]

    • You also need to make sure your mentee knows you’re in it for the long haul. If a teen thinks you’re going to get up and leave soon, they probably don’t trust you very much.
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    Stick to a consistent schedule. Try to hang out with your mentor regularly so you can talk to him and see how he’s doing. Once a week is preferred, but can vary to meet both needs.[3]

    • Try to go out with them on a specific day to make it easier to remember. For example, you can pick them up every Thursday after school to hang out.
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    Let the teen choose his activities. Ask your mentee what he likes to do so that you can choose an activity that he likes. As he gets to know them better, he can start suggesting activities they’ll like.[4]

    • If you’re really into sports, check out the local teams in the area. If they like ice cream, take them to the new ice cream parlor down the street.
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    Don’t force your mentor to open up. If your mentor doesn’t want to talk to you yet, that’s okay. Try to let your relationship develop naturally instead of forcing something that could become tense.[5]

    • It may take a month (or even longer) for your mentor to start trusting you, and that’s okay. Let them go at their own pace.
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    Stay in regular contact with your mentor. It is up to you to maintain your relationship, not the teen. Make sure you have their phone number and an alternate way to contact them if necessary.[6]

    • If they live with a parent or guardian, get their phone number as well.
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    Be her friend, not her father. You don’t necessarily have to be the authority figure in that person’s life. Instead, you should be someone they can turn to with their problems like they would a friend. Try not to scold or talk to them; instead, offer loving advice.[7]

    • Teenagers already have a lot of authority in their lives. If you try to be different, they may not trust you as much.
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    Listen carefully to everything your mentor has to say. You can listen carefully by maintaining eye contact and asking follow-up questions. Even if her mentor is just telling her how school went, she should always be involved and listen.[8]

    • For example, if you’re told about a strict teacher, you might say, “Do you think she’s strict so you’ll work harder?”
    • Or, if she’s telling you about an argument she had with her mom, you can say, “Why do you think that made her so mad?”
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    Validate their thoughts and feelings. Teens go through a lot, and your mentee may want to tell you about school, work, or relationships. He tries to tell her that what is happening to her is normal and offers advice if she asks for it.[9]

    • For example, if your mentee is worried about an upcoming test, you might say, “It’s normal to be nervous about a test. Try to remember that you studied as hard as you could for this.”
    • Or, if you’re having trouble with a friend at school, you can say, “Friendships go through a lot of ups and downs. However, it is never fun to argue with a friend.
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    Set realistic goals and expectations. Sit down and talk with your mentor about what you would like to accomplish with you. Maybe they want to get better grades, apply to college, or get a part-time job. Let them know that you will do everything you can to help them achieve their goals, no matter how small.[10]

    • Make sure the goals are realistic. If your client sets very high expectations for himself, try lowering them to more realistic expectations.
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    Check back periodically to see the progress they’ve made. After you and your mentee define your goals, plan to follow up with them in 2-3 months and 5-6 months. Ask them what they have achieved so far and what their plans are for the future.[11]

    • For example, if your mentee wanted to get better grades, ask them about their school report card and how they are currently doing on all of their grades.
    • Or, if they want to apply to college, ask them how their applications are progressing and where they’ve applied so far.
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    Keep a positive attitude. Even if your mentee falls behind or strays, it’s important to look on the bright side. Getting discouraged or angry will only make your mentor feel worse.[12]

    • Try to remember that your client may be dealing with things beyond their control, such as a disrupted family life or strained family relationships.
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    Celebrate your mentor’s accomplishments. Try to make it a big deal when your ward completes one of his goals. Take them out to eat, throw a small party, or buy them a gift as a way to acknowledge all their hard work.[13]

    • Some youth organizations also have special ceremonies to highlight the achievements of their mentors.
  • If your resident ever talks about harming themselves or others, contact the authorities immediately.[14]

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Source: HIS Education

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