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In my work with teens, I know that the foundation of good mentoring is a deep and engaging mentoring relationship. But what exactly do we do as mentors to get and keep that relationship, to make it matter? I came across this blog post from Search Institute that offers some direct insight on how all of us can support young people to thrive:
Sometimes we think of mentors narrowly as those who sign up through a formal program to spend time with a young person. In addition to these formal mentors, informal or everyday mentors can be any trustworthy adult who offers support, guidance, and encouragement to help young people overcome challenges and become their best selves.
What specific actions can adults take in their relationships with young people that help youth learn, grow, and thrive? Search Institute’s newest research on developmental relationships identifies five essential actions that lay the foundation for a powerful mentoring relationship:
- Express Care: Young people value relationships with adults who show they genuinely like them and want the best for them. These relationships help youth know they really matter.
- Challenge Growth: Young people value relationships with adults who insist that they do their best to learn and improve.
- Provide Support: Young people value relationships with adults who offer tangible, appropriate feedback and guidance in completing tasks and achieving goals–without taking over and doing it for them.
- Share Power: Young people value relationships with adults in which they feel their voice is heard and they share in making decisions that affect them. This helps youth develop self-confidence and self-direction.
- Expand Possibility: Young people value trustworthy adults who help them broaden their horizons and connect them to opportunities for growth and discovery.
When youth have strong relationships with trusted adults in addition to their parents, they are more able to overcome challenges, engage in school, and thrive in life.