How to Mentor a Teenager

One Methods:Mentoring a Teenager

All teenagers experience troubled times - some more serious than others. Even though they might not show it (or even know it), all they sometimes really need is someone to listen to them and guide them in the right direction. Mentoring teenagers isn't always as hard as it seems but at the same time, not everyone is up for it and it takes serious dedication. With the right morals, attitudes and experience, you could potentially combat some problematic teenage personalities, and provide guidance and advice in order to motivate them and help them feel better about themselves and succeed the way that they want to.


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    Really think about why you want to be a mentor before you actually take it on. Realise that some teenagers are easier to work with but others will be a handful at first or even from time-to-time. You really need to be clear with yourself on whether you have the time, patience, mentality and maturity in order to mentor a teenage because you never know what their situation may be. Evaluate the reasons why you want to be a mentor and be honest with yourself on whether they are good enough reasons or not. You might, for example, feel motivated to help out teenagers with their education if you particularly struggled with education but managed to overcome that struggle.
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    Talk to mentors who have experience with teenage mentees. You can talk to people that have previously mentored teenagers or even currently mentor teenagers. Ask them questions about how they find/found the job and how they handle/handled different situations so that you have a better understanding. Avoid asking them questions based on hearsay that not only relates to but also identifies an individual i.e. "I heard that kid, John, was (insert problem here). What exactly was his situation and how did you deal with it?"- even if they aren't reluctant to discuss it with you. Unless "John" himself is present and doesn't mind talking about the benefits of mentoring to you, it's best to respect the confidentiality aspect of the mentoring process. A more appropriate question would have just been, "What was your experience with [insert issue here] and how did you deal with it?" Those questions were much better to ask because they don't refer to a particular person and don't suggest that an individual's name has to be mentioned either but if the mentor does mention names, make a good start and keep it to yourself.
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    Talk to mentees about their mentoring experiences. This means that you can talk to people who were mentored as teenagers - or even teenagers that are currently being mentored. Once again, ask them questions about what they found helpful and what helped them feel comfortable about talking to their mentors. Think about questions that you could ask beforehand that could help you get an idea on whether you may be capable of becoming a mentor for a teenager or not.

Mentoring a Teenager

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    Arrange some form of schedule of appointments, in which you will see your mentee(s) and make sure that you're keeping to said schedule. This means making sure that you and your mentee are seeing each other when and where you both plan on seeing each other, and also making sure that the time is spent efficiently by giving them the opportunity to talk about what's going on for them and any problems that they may have. If you're mentee isn't turning up, then you should find out what's really going on; they might not be turning up because something is happening. You will need to be seen as a reliable person so make sure that you turn up too and show them that extra mile of respect too by being punctual.
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    Build up trust with your mentee. This is a two way thing, not only do you have to trusted by your mentee, but you will need to trust them too. You can start off by making sure that you're at least on friendly terms with each other. You can achieve this by, for example, contacting each other every now and then and start talking about general things and/or things that aren't too personal for them. You could even try to encourage them by mentioning any problems that you had during your teenage years. Once you're at that level with them: keep your promises, tell the truth, be reliable and most of all motivate them and give them advice where ever and whenever possible.
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    Listen to what they have to say with respect and understanding. Wait until they've finished speaking until you start speaking yourself. Show interest in what they're saying and empathise with them where necessary; some teenagers don't really want too much pity but to know that they can just talk about it anyway can make them feel that little bit better; it will then up to you to give them guidance and it will furthermore be up to them to listen to you and take on your words of wisdom in order to make them feel better.
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    Ask them about anything that's concerning you - even if they don't say it first. If you notice any change in their behaviour or any signs of physical harm, encourage them to talk about it to you and take action by intervening where and when necessary. Let them know that you do care about them and that you'll always be prepared to listen to them no matter what.
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    Encourage them. This could be a lot of things, you could encourage them to, for example, plan their career, stop smoking, start attending school daily, have faith in themselves etc. With encouragement, comes confidence - the confidence that they can change and be exactly who they want to be. Some teenagers wouldn't mind if you set them with challenges that come with rewards, while others may find it "childish". Find out what methods works best for them and adapt to it. It helps to give them the mindset that if they live their lives "the right way", good things will come their way.
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    Have faith in them. Believe that they do have the power to change and that it sometimes takes more than just a push but a great leap. Showing that you genuinely believe in them will help you build your relationship with your mentee, which will give them the confidence to confide in you more often and listen to what you have to say, which in turn would motivate them to become a step closer to change and/or figuring out their problems.


  • Communicate with your mentee on a regular basis so that you can become more comfortable with each other. Occasionally ask them how they are doing and make them feel as if they should be open to express any thoughts/opinions/situations/feelings to you.
  • Not every teenage that you may mentor will be in a bad situation. Some of them might just be seeking some ways of boosting their confidence, for example but that's not to say that they won't be. Be prepared.
  • You won't get anything out of a teenager that doesn't trust you. Get an idea on how to build trust with them and try your best. Don't give up because not everyone will trust you within the same time frame.
  • If you aren't 100% okay with mentoring a teenager face-to-face, there are quite a lot of of "e-Mentoring" (mentoring online) sites out there. Most of the sites have a system where they will ask you about your interests/experiences and will then assign you a mentee that they feel is appropriate for you.


  • You shouldn't give up on your mentee but sometimes you might come to terms with the fact that you can't always help people who can't help themselves. It's unfortunate that the harsh reality is that some people will be beyond your help.
  • Don't get into the habit of "sugar-coating" things. If you do it once or twice a session, it will become a habit. When You're not going to to help your mentee if you're going to tell white-lies to make them feel better - imagine what could happen if the truth comes out? Remember your manners and consider their feelings when you really need to be honest with them.
  • In relation to all of the warnings above: if you aren't going to be serious about mentoring, period - don't bother.
  • Although your mentee may not seem as troubled as you expected; always be prepared for what your mentee can and will tell you.
  • Take depressed teenagers seriously - especially if they are expressing their suicidal thoughts. (Read the next step)
  • You should respect and practice confidentiality. This means not making a general conversation with your family/friends about your mentees. You may feel like you want to turn to them for some advice but don't be tempted to reveal anyone's situation.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring