As an adult, when you look at all the stuff a child learns in the early years of their lives, it's exhausting to think about, right? From learning to crawl and walk, to learning to communicate, play with others, express feelings, handle their emotions, and knowing right from wrong... kids go through tremendous development spurts throughout their young lives! As a mentor, you get to walk alongside your mentee while they are still growing and developing, and learning who they are as an individual! It's a roller coaster of a ride at times, but how exciting to know that you get to have a positive impact on their development as a person?
This month I wanted to delve into the topic of Youth Development, which "focuses on activities that nurture the youth’s assets rather than on reducing particular risks or preventing specific problems." (quote from article linked below). In this email I will provide a short overview of the 5 C's of Youth Development, but feel free to check out the article from the United States Department of Education for some more in-depth learning!
1. Competence: Positive view of one’s skills and abilities, including social, academic, cognitive, personal, and vocational.
A child who understands they are competent in their various skills, is a child who will thrive in life! As a mentor, you can help your mentee grow in their competence by recognizing the strengths and abilities they already have, as well as helping them find new interests they may have and work with them to become engaged and skilled in those areas as well.
2. Confidence: The internal sense of overall positive self-worth, identity, and belief in the future.
We ALL know how important having self-confidence is, even as an adult. Or maybe, especially as an adult! Recognizing your worth is so important to youth development, especially as it relates to friendships, relationships, and goals for their futures. As a mentor, you can nurture your mentees confidence by encouraging their dreams and helping them set goals to achieve those dreams. By praising their talents and strengths they already possess, and helping them practice those talents. "As you get to know your mentee’s skills and interests, think of ways that these can be nurtured to increase self-confidence. Start with praise and reinforcement when you see him excel or take a positive action in something. Then find ways to get him to think beyond the immediate moment."
3. Connection: : Positive bonds with people and institutions, including peers, family, school, and community, that provide a sense of membership, safety, and belonging.
"These bonds create a sense of membership and belonging that increases self-confidence, encourages community participation, and offers safety and support." As a mentor, you are already providing a point of connection with your mentee within the community! If you are a Community Kids mentor, this is another way for you to build their connection to the community - through the things you do with your mentee that shows them what Waupun and the surrounding areas have to offer! By taking your mentee to the Library, the Horicon Marsh, Tom Dooley's, or volunteering at the Community Table or Meals on Wheels, you are showing your mentee how to be an engaged community member, and they are learning vital life skills as well!
4. Character: Recognition of societal and cultural rules, a sense of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions, personal values, spirituality, and integrity.
"Young people develop character through their connections with individuals and groups that provide examples and lessons for them. Young people receive many messages about right and wrong, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, faith, and social and cultural expectations as they develop. Their developmental task is to decide which messages have the most meaning for them and how to internalize a set of personal values they will live by."
As a mentor you can help your mentee develop their character by discussing your personal values and beliefs, and showing those beliefs through your actions during your meetings. You can also be a listening ear when they need to discuss moral or ethical issues. Don't forget about your boundaries though, and if a topic makes you uncomfortable (politics, religion, relationships, sex/intimacy) be sure to kindly, but firmly, acknowledge the boundary and move to another topic.
5. Caring/Compassion: A sense of sympathy and empathy for others, leading to a desire to contribute.
"Care and compassion are important motivators for becoming involved in community life, volunteering, and offering support to friends and family in times of need."
A great way to exemplify caring and compassion to your mentee is through doing volunteer work in your community together! Not only are you giving your mentee connections and honing their character, but you are also showing them what it means to give back to those in need. Just as you volunteer your time to invest in your relationship with your mentee, they will see how important it is to continue that cycle and hopefully one day be a volunteer themselves!
To learn more about the 5 C's, use the link below! There are two prior articles on Youth Development linked in the article as well. We hope you find them informative and helpful!