When young people are allowed to express their feelings, particularly their negative feelings, it offers them a safety valve that can help prevent them from exploding. If a student is systematically taught to keep negative feelings bottled up, he or she cannot get them out of his or her system, which can contribute to inappropriate behavior. Young people cannot hold back negative feelings without holding back positive feelings as well. Mentoring is a good way to encourage healthy communication for kids. And good communication between a mentor and their student will lead to a good relationship.
In any conversation, there are guaranteed ways to stifle communication. Mentors should avoid this type of behavior during conversations with students.
- Your student is really worked up about Justin Bieber’s new haircut. You should not tell your student that the way he or she feels is wrong, as in the statement, “It’s silly to feel that way.”
- You know you want to try to catch the attention of a teacher when you are with your student, but not looking at your student when he/she is speaking to you will cause them to lose interest in talking to you.
- If you are waiting for an important email or text, do not look constantly at your phone or show other body language that signals disinterest to your student.
- While your student is speaking, thinking about what you’re going to say in reply. It is not possible to be forming your own words and concentrating on the speaker’s at the same time—so the response you’re planning is unlikely to be very useful.
- The child you are working with asks you for a new iPad. Take this opportunity to define your relationship. Do not be judgmental and challenging by asking questions that put your student on the spot with a response of, “How could you possibly think that?”
In September, over 100 new mentors have been trained, which means a lot of time has been spent going through our training manual! The post above is an excerpt from the LSS New Mentor Training Manual.