Resilience is the ability to cope with and bounce back in the face of life’s challenges and demands.
Although parental incarceration can create a host of risk factors — food insecurity, unsafe living conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, just to name a few – a mentoring relationship can have an important impact by helping a child build resilience.
Researcher Michael Ungar identified seven aspects of resilience, including these two:
• access to supportive relationships (with significant others, peers and adults within one’s family and community) and
• development of a desirable personal identity (having a personal and collective sense of purpose, and the ability for self-appraisal of strengths and weaknesses, aspirations, beliefs and values)
Do these ideas sound familiar? Yes! These attributes are the first notions that come to mind when we talk about the mentor as a protective factor. By creating a safe, child-centered environment for relationship, you can demonstrate the unconditional positive regard for your mentee, as well as allow the free expression to develop your mentee’s own voice. Your active listening skills and gentle guidance can teach a child how to trust his own voice and never to give up. Simply stated, we…
• Listen to them (educate me about you)
• Reflect back what we hear (validate and empathize)
• Ask them to expand on what they are feeling (open-ended questions)
• Help them brainstorm solutions (gentle guidance)
To read about more ways to build resilience in older mentees, click here.
-Seedling’s Promise Mentor Program Staff