In the spirit of Halloween, we are going to talk a little bit about fears. At LSS Mentoring, we know that kids have a lot of fears. Below are just a few examples of fears mentors have seen in (and ultimately helped the student make a change for the positive) their students.
Social Fears. Imagine going to a new school and not knowing anyone. Or you’re in middle school and do not have any friends to sit with at lunch because you are too afraid to talk to anyone. Mentors can help encourage students to break out of their shell and find students at their school with similar interest. It may take awhile, but that student will get a lot of conversational practice with their mentor that will help them develop friendships with their peers, and ultimately, their teachers, job supervisors, college professors and beyond.
Academic Fears. In New Mentor Training, we teach new volunteers how to encourage their student to have a growth mindset. The most important word a mentor can reinforce to their student is YET. If a student says, “I have not passed a math test this year. What’s the point?,” a mentor has the perfect opportunity to let the student know they have not passed one YET. Then, they can help problem solve by talking about what the student has tried to prepare and what they could try next. Sharing other approaches and other perspectives is so important for students growth.
Fear of the Future. Kids who have a mentor may not be excited about their future. They may be worried about their family not having enough money to send them to college or worried about leaving their home. Believe it or not, mentoring is FUN! Mentors are encouraged to talk about the future, but we also want the time shared to be fun for both students and volunteers. Just taking time to play a board game or draw on a write board or share a meal can allow everyone to take a break and enjoy the moment. Mentors can also share that they were afraid at that point in their lives and what they did to keep that fear under control. Having someone acknowledge the fear and let the student know they are not alone can go a long way.
So, what are you afraid of? Don’t let your fear stand in the way of making a child a little less fearful.
Post by Michelle Madsen