Whether you are a new or experienced mentor to young people, you know that it takes time to develop a bond of trust.

Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick, authors of The Mentor’s Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, say some young people require more time than others to begin trusting a mentor. Ms. Manza and Ms. Patrick write, “People often talk about ‘creating’ trust as though it were something we conjure up at will. In reality, trust emerges slowly and tentatively from experiences that create the conditions for it.”

Those conditions include the following:

  • Being reliable, consistent, patient, and persistent with your mentee.
  • Encouraging your mentee to take the lead in deciding what you will do together.
  • Telling your mentee what positive qualities or behaviors you see in her or him.
  • Having fun together and creating shared memories.
  • Listening to cultivate understanding—rather than only giving advice.
  • Keeping your conversations with your mentee private—not telling parents or teachers the details of your conversations.
  • Not pushing your mentee to achieve goals you have set.
  • Being trustworthy yourself by keeping your word.

It can be tempting to equate the level of trust with the level of communication. “But this can be misleading,” say the authors, “because some mentees are never going to be great talkers. As with any relationship, trust evolves slowly through the simple process of being together on a regular basis.”

If you are looking for more advice on building a bond with a mentee, The Mentor’s Field Guide offers a straightforward question-and-answer format that is both inspirational and practical.  

In addition, check out the video archive of Ms. Manza’s recent webinar, Mentoring Youth: Tips for Getting Started and Staying Motivated. This free resource is available on ParentFurther, Search Institute’s resource for families.

During the month of January, you can save 10 percent on Search Institute publications related to mentoring. Find tips, tools, and activities that will keep you and your mentees motivated and moving forward in the new year.

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