Research has shown that youth who have a mentor growing up are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and more likely to excel in their academics, participate in extracurricular activities and thrive in general. Each year, National Mentoring Month gathers the support of national mentoring organizations, local mentoring programs, and mentoring supporters across all 50 states to focus attention on the need for mentors and the positive outcomes youth experience as a result of mentoring.
Mentors, both formal and informal, can take on the incredible task of helping guide a youth to make positive decisions to achieve their goals. While they often don’t do it for the recognition, it’s still important to thank them for their support in a child’s life. This January, in support of National Mentoring Month, you can help your child show his appreciation to his mentor through simple acts of gratitude.
Parents, there is no wrong way thank mentors for their time, but in case you’re in need of some inspiration, here are a few activities you can do to acknowledge the caring adults--teachers, coaches, friends and loved ones--who are making a positive impact in your child’s development.
1. Share a moment. Whether it was that time they learned a new skill or tried something new, focus on a moment that made your child feel proud and have him share this moment with his mentor. You’d be surprised to learn that his mentor also has special moments and is likely eager to share.
2. Promote self-expression. Mentors are someone your child looks up to and often emulates. Which qualities does your child admire in his mentor? Think about writing a card, drawing a picture or recording a video letting your child’s mentor know why and how much they are appreciated.
3. Show growth. Whether it’s improving grades, taking on a new responsibility or helping others, have your child tell her mentor how his or her presence in her life has helped her grow.
4. Become the mentor. Does your child have a special talent that he’d like to teach his mentor? Have him become the mentor for the day and share something he enjoys to help his mentor learn a new skill or talent.
5. Pay it forward. Encourage your child to participate in a new volunteer activity to show gratitude for her mentor and the time they spend together. By paying it forward in this way, you child will experience the rewards of civic engagement.
David Shapiro is the CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States. He also chairs the board of the Mass Nonprofit Network and serves as a volunteer leader with a variety of nonprofits, including America’s Promise Alliance and the National Human Service Assembly.
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The Parent Toolkit has consulted many sources while developing the social and emotional development section, but there are many more additional resources that parents can consult when seeking support and guidance. Included here are some links that may be helpful.