In the midst of the holiday season, mentors might wonder how the health of their relationships with their mentees may fair over the time that they don’t meet. Mentoring expert Jean Rhodes (2017) says that “it’s important to consider [a child’s] capacity for connection” when determining the strength of your relationship with them. In other words, the health of your connection hinges on how close the child feels to you. Below are several ways you can ensure that your mentoring relationship can help to expand your mentee’s capacity for connection and in turn, increase the depth of the mentoring relationship.
As a mentor, you can utilize many ways to build trust with your mentee. An easy way is by being consistent and showing up when you say you will. You can also create a safe place for your mentee to confide with you during your meetings. When a mentee sees that you mean what you say and you are a safe person that they can go to, that can help them realize that you value their feelings and the time you spend with them.
Share Power in the Relationship
Your mentee may want to teach you something or lead an activity while you meet with them. Showing them that you respect their desire to do so, can let your mentee see their ownership in the mentoring relationship. Your mentee should be given opportunities to “invest” in the relationship.
Listening to Understand
Actively listen to your mentee and provide feedback by validating their feelings. When a mentee realizes that you sincerely care about how they feel, a mentee’s capacity for connection can grow as they may feel more secure and safe with talking to you about things important to them.
Set Goals Together
Setting goals and being future oriented with your mentee can be another way to help them invest in the mentoring relationship. Being able to plan with mentees for the future, can help shape the way they view their relationship with you. A mentee can view a goal, not only as something to achieve, but also something to look forward to achieving with you.
Deep bonds take time to build and experts on building connections say that mentors should be engaged, empathetic, and authentic when building relationships with children. Helping them expand their capacity for connection and the overall strength of your mentoring relationship will take months or even years, but focusing on the strategies above can yield a connection between you and your mentee that can outlast the holiday break.
Preston, Justin (2016) .“More than just shared interests: new study highlights the importance of engaged listening for mentor-mentee connection” The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring.
Rhodes, Jean (2017). “Why it’s so Important to Consider Youth’s Capacity for Connection” The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring.
Search Institute (2016). “10 Ideas for Building Meaningful Mentoring Relationships.”
by Kendra Shaw