Tips for Being a Great Mentor

mentor pair

The following tips and additional handouts can help you figure out how to work more effectively with a YouthBuild student and strengthen the mentoring bond.

The Role of a YouthBuild Mentor

  • Be a friend, not a parent or authority figure. Mentors are trusted guides helping young people make positive decisions, form their own values, and realize their potential.
  • Have realistic goals and expectations. Mentors understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and that setbacks occur. Mentors empower young people to reach the goals set in their YouthBuild Life Plans.
  • Have fun. Getting to know the young person is the primary goal of any mentoring relationship. Activities such as hanging out, grabbing a bite to eat, or playing basketball, help build the relationship.
  • Allow the mentee to have voice and choice in deciding on activities. Ask your mentee what he or she would like to do during your time together. This ensures that the young person will be interested and engaged in the activity.
  • Be positive. Offer encouragement and assistance. When times are tough, help the young person focus on the future. Celebrate successes large and small.
  • Let the mentee control the direction of conversations. Don’t push the mentee to tell you everything at once; allow him or her time to get to know you. Be sensitive and respectful and above all keep everything the mentee says to you confidential (unless the youth plans to hurt herself or someone else).
  • Listen. Sometimes the young person will need to vent about school, work, home, or friends. By listening more than talking you can learn a lot and build your relationship.
  • Respect the trust the mentee places in you. Don’t judge the mentee or provide unwanted advice. Reassure him that you will be there no matter what.
  • Remember that your relationship is with the young person, not his or her parent. The focus of the match is on the youth’s goals, not those of the family. At the same time, avoid passing judgment on the mentee’s family.
  • Remember that you are responsible for building the relationship. Take the initiative to keep in contact with your mentee.

Additional Handouts and Tips