If you have a very shy mentee you might find engaging with them to a bit of a challenge especially in the beginning stages of the relationship. As an adult mentor it can be hard enough to engage with an out going 4th grader but there are some things that can make it easier.
– Consider spending time on their turf. They will automatically be more comfortable in their neighborhood and around their own siblings and friends.
– Make sure your protégé knows that he or she is important. Shy children are often overlooked at school so mentorship is a unique opportunity to show them their importance and value.
– Plan interactive hangouts where you can be active together. Playing games or running around in the park gives you time to build up trust with your mentee without constantly attacking them with questions. At 10 most every child enjoys being outside so take advantage of that and the free nature of parks.
– If you want to open up more dialogue consider coming up with silly interactive questions- ones you can answer as well. Ask them if they could be a turtle or a dolphin for a day what would they pick? Then you answer the question as well. Remember embrace your inner 10 year old and be silly along side them. Use this as an opportunity to find common ground as well.
– Try retelling stories; they can be stories from your childhood, bible stories or something you made up. Anything engaging or silly is always a win.
– Another thing that can be really helpful is for you mentee to bring a friend or sibling along during a hangout. They are normally more comfortable and tend to open up more. You will learn about how they interact with their peers and get some more honesty about where they really are. Many times they will talk in the back seats as if you cannot hear them and you will learn more about the way he or she thinks.
– You can also connect with another mentor/mentee pair and hangout together. It can be challenging to coordinate that many schedules but I know from personal experience it can be rewarding.
Most importantly offer lots of encouragement and avoid situations that can be embarrassing. If your mentee does something outside of their comfort zone or talk more one week make sure you highlight that and tell them how much fun you had together. Words of affirmation are key!
-Chandler Miner, Relationship Coordinator