The youth of today will be tomorrow’s leaders, educators and influencers. But before they get there they have a different role to fulfill—being kids. And as kids grow, it’s important for them to have influential adult figures in their life. With numerous problems that plague youth growing up, it’s more important than ever to help set an example.
A new year is the perfect time to start mentoring. January is National Mentoring Month, but that’s just a reason to start engaging in mentor activities. Here are four reasons to be a mentor, and to continue mentoring all year round. You’ll not only feel great about making a difference in somebody’s life, but you’ll hopefully create bonds with youth that will last a lifetime.
To Instill Good Values
Our nation’s youth are at an impressionable time in their lives. That’s why mentoring for any elementary to high school age student could make a bigger impact than what meets the eye. Even if you’ve only got a few hours a week to spare, small amounts of time can make a big difference. Give them a bright future by setting an example. Plus, you’ll learn a thing or two from them that you might not have expected.
To Stand Up to Bullying
According to Stopbullying.gov, most bullying occurs during or after school hours, which is typically the time that a mentor would be present. By taking up a block of time during that school day or after school, you’re discouraging bullying from happening to your mentee, or from your mentee participating. If any occasions arise to discuss the importance of putting an end to bullying, take the opportunity to address the situation.
As a mentor, be wary of the signs of bullying. If your mentee has any unexplainable injuries, sudden avoidance of social situations or other behaviors out of character, seek help. And even if your mentee hasn’t experienced bullying, make sure to educate them so they know what to do if a situation does arise.
To Encourage Lifelong Health and Wellness
Although it isn’t a problem with all of today’s youth, childhood obesity has become a growing trend in the United States. Help instill good exercise habits early in your mentee’s life so that they will continue to practice those habits later on in life.
Instead of always sitting down to chat with your mentee, get active. Play games, run around and let them be kids. Even if you aren’t a sports guru, let your mentee teach you some different games. Whether or not you follow the rules or end up making a fool or yourself, the important part is that your mentee learns to stay active.
To Discourage Bad Habits
Statistics don’t lie. And an impact study conducted by the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation boasts some telling stats. Research showed that youth who spent time with a caring adult mentor regularly for at least one year were less likely than other youth to use illegal drugs or drink alcohol, as well as skipping school or class. Plus, the study revealed that students were generally more trusting of their parents or guardians.