How to Mentor a Teenager

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

Steps

Method 1 of 3: Building the Relationship

How to Mentor a Teenager

Get to know your mentee through fun activities. You can go out to eat, play some basketball, or hang out at a park. This is supposed to be a fun time for both of you, so pick an activity that you’ll both enjoy.

  • You could go see a movie, head to the mall, visit an arcade, or ride bikes around the city.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Build trust with your mentee by keeping your word. Make sure you show up to appointments on time, keep your scheduled activities, and reply to their messages as fast as possible. If you’re ever running late or you have to cancel, communicate with your mentee as soon as possible.

  • You should also make sure your mentee knows that you’re in this for the long-haul. If the teenager thinks you’re going to up and leave soon, they probably won’t trust you very much.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Stick to a consistent schedule. Try to hang out with your mentee on a regular basis so you can chat with them and see how they’re doing. Once a week is preferable, but you can switch it around to fit both of your needs.

  • Try hanging out with them on a specific day so it’s easy to remember. For example, you could pick them up every Thursday after school to go hang out.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Let the teenager have a choice in your activities. Ask your mentee what they enjoy doing so you can pick an activity that they’ll look forward to. As you get to know them more, you can start suggesting activities that they’ll like.

  • If they’re really into sports, check out your local teams in the area. If they love ice cream, take them to the new ice cream shop down the road.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Don’t push your mentee into opening up. If your mentee doesn’t want to talk to you just yet, that’s okay. Try to let your relationship develop naturally instead of forcing something that could become strained.

  • It may take a month (or even longer) for your mentee to start trusting you, and that’s okay. Let them go at their own pace.

Method 2 of 3: Communicating

How to Mentor a Teenager

Keep in regular contact with your mentee. It’s up to you to keep your relationship going, not the teenager. Make sure you have their phone number and an alternate way to get ahold of them if you need to.

  • If they live with a parent or guardian, get their phone number too.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Be their friend, not their parent. You shouldn’t necessarily be an authority figure in this person’s life. Instead, you should be someone they can come to with their problems like they would with a friend. Try not to scold them or talk down to them; instead, offer caring advice.

  • Teenagers have a lot of authority figures in their lives already. If you try to be another one, they probably won’t trust you as much.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Listen attentively to everything your mentee has to say. You can listen attentively by maintaining eye contact and asking follow-up questions. Even if your mentee is just telling you about how school went, you should always be engaged and listening.

  • For example, if they’re telling you about a strict teacher, you could say, “Do you think she’s being strict so you guys work harder?”
  • Or, if they’re telling you about a fight they had with their mom, you could say, “Why do you think that made her so angry?”

How to Mentor a Teenager

Validate their thoughts and feelings. Teenagers go through a lot, and your mentee may want to vent to you about school, work, or relationships. Try to tell them that what they’re going through is normal, and offer advice if they ask for it.

  • For example, if your mentee is worried about an upcoming test, you could say, “It’s normal to be nervous about a test. Try to remember that you studied as hard as you could for it.”
  • Or, if they’re having trouble with a friend at school, you could say, “Friendships go through a lot of ups and downs. It’s never fun to be in a fight with a friend, though.”

Method 3 of 3: Meeting Goals

How to Mentor a Teenager

Set realistic goals and expectations. Sit down and talk with your mentee about what they’d like to accomplish with you. Maybe they want to get better grades, or apply for colleges, or get a part-time job. Let them know that you’ll do all you can to help them reach their goals, no matter how small.

  • Make sure that the goals are realistic. If your mentee is setting super high expectations for themselves, try to talk them down to more realistic ones.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Check in periodically to see the progress they’ve made. After you and your mentee define their goals, plan to check in with them after 2 to 3 months and 5 to 6 months. Ask about what they’ve accomplished so far and what their plans are for the future.

  • For example, if your mentee wanted to get better grades, ask them about their report card and how they’re doing in all their classes right now.
  • Or, if they wanted to get into college, ask them how their applications are going and where they’ve applied to so far.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Maintain a positive attitude. Even if your mentee falls behind or goes off track, it’s important to see the silver lining. If you get discouraged or angry, it will only make your mentee feel worse.

  • Try to remember that your mentee may be dealing with things outside of their control, like a disrupted home life or strained family relationships.

How to Mentor a Teenager

Celebrate your mentee’s achievements. Try to make it a big deal when your mentee meets one of their goals. Take them out to eat, throw a small party, or buy them a gift as a way to acknowledge all of their hard work.

  • Some youth organizations have special ceremonies to highlight their mentee’s achievements, too.

Warnings

  • If your mentee ever talks about harming themselves or others, contact the authorities right away. Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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