Effective mentoring relationships tend to follow a developmental rather than a prescriptive approach. While the mentor will drive the relationship initially, once there is a connection between the mentor and the young person, they will decide what activities they will do together, always focusing on the needs of the young person.
Sometimes the needs of the young person might be geared towards achieving specific goals. In such cases the mentor might take a greater lead, though there should be a balance involving participation in fun activities as well.
Mentors who role model effectively and walk the talk will be empowering young people to take charge of their lives and to be better able to cope with daily challenges in a positive and constructive way.
Some key characteristics of an effective mentor would include the following:
- A dependable, consistent friend who enjoys being around young people
- Respect for the young person's viewpoint
- Looking for opportunities to have 'fun'
- Listening to and accepting different points of view
- Flexible and open
- Getting to know the young person's family without becoming too involved
- Empathizing with the young person's feelings and personal issues
- Seeing solutions and opportunities, as well as barriers and assisting the young person to make sense of their confusion as they grapple with adolescent issues
- Being reliable
- Stable and secure as far as their own personal life is concerned
- Patient and non-judgmental
- Having the compassion and desire to reach out to someone in need
- A willingness to commit to a mentoring relationship for a specific period of time
Effective mentoring relationships are likely to be built on three key qualities:
- Mutual respect
- Being genuine