5 tips for better relationships with teens

The teenage years are usually characterized as years of turmoil, perhaps some rebellion, and plenty of confusion. But it doesn't have to be this way. According to a study conducted by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, one of the largest mentoring programs in the world, 46 percent of youth who were mentored were less likely to get involved with drugs. Twenty-seven percent were less likely to use alcohol and were more likely to improve their grades at school, have higher self-esteem, and strengthen their relationships with family and friends.

Mentoring of the youth has many benefits. But it does take time and patience. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Get to know them

Take the time to get to know your mentee. Learn about their personality, interests, and goals in order to gain trust.

2. Listen

Listening is the most important thing. Take time out to actually listen what your teen has to say. Practice active listening, so put the phone down and listen with your head, not only your ears. Have good eye contact and use natural posture because the body language you demonstrate during a conversation clues the speaker in about how interested you are in what they have to say.

3. Don't be judgmental

If your mentee is coming to you for advice and trusts you, don't immediately be judgmental about their decisions or views. However, don't hesitate to express your opinion. Feedback, both positive and constructively critical, helps direct your teen to the right direction.

4. Foster problem-solving and decision-making skills

As a mentor, don't just make suggestions or give advice to the mentee. Help him/her understand the main cause of the problem and create alternative solutions. Assist the teen in choosing the best option and taking action to get quick results.

5. Support and encourage them

Applaud successful achievements. Celebrate your mentee's accomplishments and their journey toward achieving them. This will encourage your teen to work hard and persevere more.

Mentoring youth is very rewarding, but it takes much time and patience. Whenever you are mentoring a younger person, remember to be a good example and follow your principles just as you would want your mentee to.

 

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