What do I do if my mentee is being bullied?

Inform the site supervisor immediately.

Make sure that your mentee is not thinking about hurting him/herself or someone else. If they suggest that they are being harassed, please inform the site supervisor immediately. There are protocols in place at each site to handle these situations. Also, talk to your mentee and remind them about the importance of speaking up by letting their parents/guardians and teachers know they are being bullied.
With e-bullying growing nationwide, also make sure that your mentee is not being harassed online. If so, make sure to inform the site supervisor immediately.

Work on building your mentee’s self-esteem and negative body image perceptions. Being bullied can take a toll on how one feels about him/herself. There are a variety of self-esteem and image building activities that you can do with your mentee. You can find some useful tips and activities in MUSA’s Resource Manual, available through your site supervisor, or at the National Mentoring Partnership website.

Continue to check in on your mentee even after you have reported the bullying issue to the site supervisor. If you know that you won’t be able to see your mentee in person for a while, you should find an alternative way of communication with your mentee such as e-mail or phone, but only if the site allows and your mentee feels comfortable with exchanging information.

Make sure your mentee knows that you are there for them. At times a person that has been bullied can feel dejected and alone, you can help a mentee dealing with this by doing something as simple as just showing up and being a great active listener during and outside of mentoring sessions.

How do I talk to my mentee about diversity?

The role of the mentor is to impart wisdom, advice and guidance to mentors. Mentees need to be empowered-to use their diversity, creativity, ideas and initiatives to pursue their dreams of achieving success.

In a cross-cultural or cross-gender mentoring relationship, it is critical to understand how different the matches’ assumptions may be about human behavior. Understanding cultural or gender-based assumptions will develop and strengthen the authenticity and trust essential for successful mentoring.

To improve understanding, both mentoring partners need to be schooled in basic communication skills–those of listening, empathy, and appreciative inquiry–along with orientation into differing cultural, racial, and gender-based assumptions.

Mentoring should include attention to developmental and relational processes, enduring mentor commitments, and exploration of similarities between mentor and mentee (including racial, ethnic, and cultural background). Matches could explore these similarities and differences by sharing stories about family traditions, favorite memories, and even favorite music.

Mentoring USA’s “Getting To Know You” and “Cultural Awareness Activities” help to facilitate the process of mentoring diversity. See your Site Supervisor or Program Manager for fun activities that will help you apply these tips to your mentoring relationship!

Can I give gifts to my mentee?

It is certainly okay to give your mentee a modest gift for the holidays or for his/her birthday. Keep it simple and inexpensive.

  • Gifts that say “I’m thinking of you” or “I really value this relationship” are the best, such as books, magazines, photographs.
  • Do not give your mentee a gift that his/her family could not afford.
  • Never give your mentee a gift in the presence of other mentor/mentee pairs. Some students may receive gifts and others might not, which can create problems or put other mentors in a difficult position.

How can I get my mentee to open up?

It’s normal for young people to have difficulty opening up, especially in the beginning. So, be patient and know that being there for them is the most powerful form of communication. Asking questions and making your mentee feel special and comfortable is often key.

  • When you see your mentee at a session, let them know you are excited to see them.
  • Start the conversation if you see they are not ready. Be curious and follow-up with them on prior conversations.
  • Let them see you are more interested in them, and their feelings, not their behavior and performance.
  • Find your common interests, and subjects you can teach each other about.
  • Remember to use the focus areas that the site supervisor introduced as an ice-breaker.

Most of all “have patience.” Kids are much more comfortable with silence than we are and often need more time to develop a comfort level and trust.

What should I do if my mentee is failing in school?

The problem may not be your mentee’s ability to do the work or comprehend the subject matter, but something you can help them with – like getting organized or excited about school! With your mentee, you can:

  • Talk about what’s happening to determine what the root causes of the poor performance are.
  • Discover what gets in the way. Develop a plan for solving it such as designing a homework schedule or finding ways of organizing their assignments.
  • Make learning fun. Engage your mentee in researching and discovering topics he/she is interested in so they can learn to enjoy the learning process.
  • Work together to find homework help. Your Site Coordinator or Program Manager should be able to tell you what tutoring is available at your mentee’s school.

Above all, remember your role as a mentor is to be a resource and to help the mentee learn to solve problems.

What should I do if my mentee would like to borrow money?

Boundaries are constantly being tested in a relationship. This is a golden opportunity to talk to the Mentee about several aspects of money management, including spending habits, saving and ways to have fun without spending money. Once you give it is difficult to go back, and creating financial dependency may cause a rift in the relationship. Remember:

  • Your mentee should value you for your friendship and not your pocketbook.
  • Discuss good spending habits and budgeting skills.
  • MUSA program policy prohibits from giving money to your mentee.

By setting and maintaining your boundaries you help to create a safe framework for the mentoring relationship to grow. The more your mentee is a witness to wise and thoughtful consideration concerning financial decisions, the better model you become.

How do I bring closure to the relationship?

The phrase “coming to closure” suggests a process. In the mentoring relationship, good closure is synonymous with learning and development. Closure is essential for growth and dealing with it together and directly is critical for a successful mentoring relationship

Each mentoring relationship is individual and the need for closure varies, but the importance of the “closure conversation” cannot be over emphasized. It is during this conversation that learning takes place. Be vocal in your appreciation. Celebrate your accomplishments together.

Help your Mentee to express his or her emotions. For example, if you and your Mentee enjoyed your time together, you might say something like: “I am going to really miss you. I have enjoyed our time together.”

However, you must be honest. If your time together was all right but not great, then don’t lie and say that you are going to be sad that this is over and perhaps focus on an activity that was special to you during one of your meetings. Also, do not expect your Mentee to reciprocate, as they still might not feel comfortable sharing their emotions.

Young people today have many adults that come and go in their lives. Very rarely are they provided with the opportunity to properly say goodbye. Mentoring USA provides closure activities and a celebration for the final session to make the process easy and enjoyable.