No matter how it happens the presence of a strong mentor is a valuable resource in the life of a developing teenager. Honesty and transparency work the best when mentoring youth. In addition, below I like to share eight tips that work the best when mentoring youth:

  1. Have realistic goals and expectations – focus on the teenager and their overall development. Your early efforts should just be on developing rapport.
  2. Have fun together – play games, go bowling, go to the movies, etc.
  3. Give the teen you’re mentoring a voice and choice in deciding on activities – it demonstrates your trust, and builds skills and confidence.
  4. Be Positive – be encouraging and offer concrete assistance.
  5. Listen – ‘Just Listening’ will develop trust – not criticising or judging.
  6. Respect the trust the teenager places in you – show them that you understand and are committed to the relationship.
  7. Be a friend – don’t be a parent or authority figure.
  8. Remember YOU are responsible for building the relationship – take responsibility for making and maintaining contact and don’t expect too much feedback from the teenager.

If you are someone who is currently or considering stepping up and taking an active interest in a young person’s growth and development as a friend and mentor, let me say good on you – there are not many better investments you can make. But don’t feel like you have to do it alone, or stumble along learning the hard way.