Tips for Mentors

Tips For Successful Mentor To Youth Relationships

  • Begin your conversations with a check in. It’ll help break the ice
  • Remember what it was like to be a teenager
  • Only give advice when asked
  • Take lots of pictures!
  • Be open and honest
  • Be open to different beliefs than yours – don’t try to make them believe what you do
  • Allow them to be themselves
  • Keep confidentiality unless there is potential harm to the youth or another youth (mandated reporting guidelines)
  • Don’t worry about trying to impress the youth – just be you.  You’re awesome!

Guidelines For Asking Honest, Open Questions When Working With Your Youth

  • An honest, open question is one you cannot possibly ask while thinking, “I know the right answer to this and I sure hope you give it to me.” Thus, “Have you ever thought of writing your credo this way?” is not an honest, open question!  But, “What did you learn from the experience you just told me about?” is.  Try not to get ahead of a youth’s language with your questions. “What did you mean when you said you felt sad?” is an honest, open question. “Didn’t you also feel angry?” is not.
  • Ask questions that are brief and to the point rather than surrounding them with rationales and background materials that allow you to insert your own opinions and advice.
  • Ask questions that go to the person as well as the problem, questions about the inner realities of the situation as well as the outward facts.
  • Ask questions aimed at helping your youth explore his or her concern rather than satisfying your own curiosity.
  • If you aren’t sure about a particular question, sit with it for a while and wait for clarity.
  • Avoid questions with yes-no or right-wrong answers.  At the same time, remember that the best questions are often simple and straightforward.
  • Learning to remain in open and honest dialogue with a youth regarding their faith statements can be challenging. It helps to continually remind yourself that our purpose is not to show what good problem solvers we are, but simply to support your youth in listening to his or her inner teacher.