Teenagers are facing the most critical stage in their life – adolescence. At this stage, they experience the transition from childhood towards adulthood; in the process of transition, teens deal with lots of biological, emotional, social and psychological changes. Often, these changes make a life of a teenager miserable. There is a great desire to fit in, to be accepted for who they are, to find their true identity, and to realize their own strengths and weaknesses. This is where peer mentoring becomes a lot of help. It keeps the youth guided and makes them feel loved, cared for and accepted.
Features and of a Peer Mentoring Program
Peer mentoring is a kind of mentoring program, which matches older youths with younger ones. The former provide the latter with guidance, advice, and all forms of support they need to be able to meet challenges of adolescent life. The older youths do not only serve as mentors but as role models to the younger ones. They are not perfect but having been through the same stage and most likely, the same problems, predicaments, and challenges in their homes, school and community; they are in the position to provide friendly advice, positive influences, attention, and moral support to these younger teens.
Mentoring programs, either in schools, local communities, and youth organizations bear the following characteristics:
• Centered on the needs of the youth – Every peer mentoring program is designed to meet the specific needs of the teens to be mentored. Those who come from broken homes, for example, may need more time for counseling and recreation activities that would help them divert their thoughts on sad experiences at home towards happy ones. Those with academic problems may require more time for tutorials.
• Participants voluntarily join a peer mentoring program – A big part of the success of peer mentoring lies on the voluntary participation of the mentor and the younger teens. The student must not be forced to attend the peer mentoring program as this would only make things more difficult for him. The student must first acknowledge the need to have a mentor, someone who is older, wider, and more experienced than him. Only upon acknowledging this need can he actively participate in the activities in the mentoring program.
• Mentors are bound by the responsibility to keep things confidential – Trust is very important in building good relationship between the mentor and the student; thus, it is a must or the mentor to keep things that he and the student talks about confidential. Without trust, it would be hard for the person mentored to talk about the things he feels and thinks especially about very critical issues involving him, a close friend or his family.
Joining a Mentoring Program
Joining a peer mentoring program starts with the eagerness to be a part of a support group or program that is aimed at creating changes both on the life of the mentor and the younger person to be mentored.
If you want to be a mentor, first you must be prepared in all aspects. Do you have a plan on how to conduct peer mentoring? Do you know what to do when trying situations arise? Do you have the patience necessary for you to deal with persons who might be going through tough moments in their life? How would you handle issues such as early pregnancy, divorce, and drug addiction?
When you are ready, the next thing you should do is to look for a pee mentoring program that is suited to your interests. You can look for these in your school, local community and even online. You may also ask for your teachers, schoolmates, and friends’ recommendations. You can also ask the head of your local community church or youth organizations in your community or neighboring areas.