How To Mentor a Troubled Child

Being a mentor can be a wonderful experience for troubled kids, and they benefit immensely from having positive mentors in their lives.You can make a difference in a child’s life if you build a good relationship with them.You can help the child with their problem.You can find a training program that will teach you techniques and give you support from other mentors.

Step 1: You should be an active listener.

At the beginning of your relationship with the child, let them decide what you talk about.Show interest in the things they say by smiling and asking questions.Let them talk for as long as they want, if they are telling a detailed story on their own.Some children will talk about their problems sooner than others, but remember that the child is talking about something important to them at the time.They begin to trust you when you listen to what they want to say.Once the two of you are getting along, you can bring up topics of concern.Don’t act like you’re not real.When you are being showy, children will notice.Help the child think through their problems.

Step 2: Set realistic expectations.

Discuss the child’s goals with them.If the child is older and their goals are unsafe, talk to them about other goals that will lead to long-term happiness.Make it clear to the child that you expect them to try to reach the goals you have set for them, as well as helping them in the process.A young child may want to make more friends or improve their grades.Talking to new people, being helpful, listening to the teacher, and asking for help with their homework are some of the ways they can do this.A high school kid may say that they want to become famous, or they may be just interested in graduating.Ask open-ended questions such as why they want to achieve their goals and how they plan on doing it.Talk to them about how they can manage their time between school work and their hobbies.

Step 3: They should be treated as individuals.

Troubled kids feel like they are all the same, and that adults see them as bad.Take note of the things the other person is interested in, and give feedback on what they’re talking about.To get to know them better, ask them questions about their families, friends, and hobbies.If they talk to you about a music artist that you’re not familiar with, you can say, “I don’t think I’ve heard them before.”Will you play a song?A huge part of treating the child as an individual is active listening.Praise them for sharing something that was difficult to say.

Step 4: For a long time, commit your time regularly.

Try not to skip the meeting when you have it.Troubled kids are often troubled because they have unreliable adults in their lives.The child can count on a person to follow through.When a relationship lasts for a long time, it’s beneficial.If you can commit that amount of time to a child, try to do so.Show up to your appointments if you are a volunteer mentor, teacher, or social worker.Make weekly meetings with the child to check in and see how they are doing, if your mentoring is more informal.

Step 5: They need to be valued for their trust.

If their safety or the safety of others isn’t at risk, let the child know that anything they tell you is confidential.Don’t repeat things they say to other people.If someone is in danger, tell the child that you need to report it to someone, but everything else is between them and you.I care about your health and safety.I will need to tell someone else if you are unsafe.I want you to know that I won’t tell anyone else what you say to me.Allow the child to handle conflicts on their own, unless they ask for your help, and be sure that you remain loyal to them as their mentor.You can recommend that they reach out to their family for additional support, but you are not the mentor of their parents or other family members.

Step 6: You should smile and be positive.

Show that you enjoy spending time with them by smiling and having a sense of humor.When they tell you about difficulties they are having, affirm their feelings by saying you are sure their situation must be hard to deal with, but you also believe they will be able to get through it.Don’t belittling their emotions by discussing the positive sides of tough situations.Share stories of your own experiences to help them understand that they are not alone.

Step 7: You should give the child time to trust you.

Troubled children have a hard time trusting adults.It can take a long time for a child to open up.Allow them to trust you by showing that you enjoy spending time with them, commit your time, and be an active listener.If the child is hostile or doesn’t want to talk to you, you can say to them, “I know you have no reason to like me.”I’m hoping that as we get to know each other, you’ll be able to talk to me about whatever you want.I’d like to help you when you’re ready.Don’t take their treatment personally.They will eventually trust you if you give them time and consistency.

Step 8: Don’t worry about their problems, focus on their goals.

If you know that a child is involved in risky activities, help them focus on their education, their health, or their positive relationships as ways to gradually get away from the risky behavior.When they say they want to improve their grades or become a pro athlete, be supportive and help them focus on their goal.Children don’t want to engage in risky behavior if they have goals.When they tell you that they feel pressured to get involved in high-risk activities, remind them of their goals.Use short-term goals as a way to work towards their long term goals, and share ideas that they may not have thought of on their own.

Step 9: You should be honest about your mistakes.

Unlike a parent, you are an adult or older peer that is both a role model and a friend to your mentee.Tell them why they should or shouldn’t do something by sharing mistakes you’ve made and how you learned from them, instead of setting rules or giving consequences.In order to run their classroom, teachers may have to make rules and issue consequences, however, take as much time as you can to hold individual conversations with students that appear to be troubled.When you tell a story about a mistake, you can say, “I wish I hadn’t done that because it made things harder for me.”Sharing your own experiences works best when you have built a good relationship with the child and they trust you.The child may not understand why you are sharing personal stories.

Step 10: Provide them with what they need.

If a child needs help finding other support services such as food banks, daycare for their own children or for siblings, shelters, or tutors, have this information available to give to them.Help them make phone calls to get the services they need, or take them to appointments if they ask you to.A group can provide you with community resources that you may not have on your own, and this is a good reason to mentor through an organization.You can still help the child access resources if you are doing informal mentoring.Get information for the child from local youth organizations, churches, or community centers.

Step 11: Let’s celebrate their accomplishments.

Tell the child how proud you are when they reach one of their goals.Don’t spend a lot of money to show your support; instead, give them emotional motivation to keep going and try to reach more goals.Say, “I knew you could do it!”I’m very proud of you.You worked hard and it paid off.You should be proud of yourself as well.They learn to take responsibility for their actions if they are held accountable.They should be supported throughout the process.

Step 12: You should get your own training.

Being a good mentor requires having your own support team and sources of information.If you ever have a problem or don’t know what to do in a situation with your mentee, ask questions and bounce ideas off of someone in your support network.When you are first starting out as a mentor, look for someone who has years of experience to mentor you.

Step 13: Donate your time to a large mentoring organization.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way have community-based mentoring branches for troubled youth across the U.S. You can volunteer as a mentor through one of these organizations by searching “Become a volunteer mentor near me” and clicking on their website.You can search for your local chapter on the website.To become a mentor, click here.

Step 14: You can use the database to find an opportunity.

The Corporation for National and Community Service has a list of local mentoring organizations.You can find the names of local mentoring organizations by entering your zip code, name, and email address.

Step 15: You can search for “mentor troubled youth” online.

You can find smaller mentor programs by doing an internet search.If you like the organization, read the website and follow the instructions to become a mentor.

Step 16: Background checks, interviews, or training are necessary.

If you plan to work or volunteer for an official mentoring program, school, or community center, you will need to get further training, get a background check, and hold an interview.The organization that you want to work for will give you the information you need to complete their requirements.Background checks are required for people who work with children.You have never been convicted of a serious crime or abused a child in the past, thanks to these background checks.