One of the things I hear the most from folks who know in their bones that they want to work with young people is that they’re not sure if they’re qualified/good/old/young/perfect enough. So, here are 3 things you need to be a great youth mentor! 

Enjoy this short episode with Amanda on her own, giving you a bit of a pep talk and sharing some of the things you do need to connect, engage and hold a brave and nurturing space for young people. 

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generic intro

Hello and welcome to the youth mentor podcast. This is your short burst of inspiration tips and research about teens for parents, educators, and mentors. I’m your host, Amanda Rootsey, founder of teen personal development school Shine From Within and coach to incredible youth mentors all over the world. Now I certainly don’t know it all.

So I interview the experts about what’s going on for youth today. From psychological insights to really practical advice, this is your moment of inspiration, motivation, and a few laughs amidst the ever changing world of teens and tweens.

Episode Begins

[00:00:32] Hi, everyone. I thought I’d do something a little bit different today and just record quite a short episode around, um, three things that you need to be a really great mentor. And I’m recording this today because one of the things I hear the most from folks who know. In their bones or they’ve got that kind of flutter in their, in their tummy or in their heart that they want to work with young people. 

[00:00:56] Is that they’re not sure if they’re qualified enough. And they’re not sure if they are going to be good enough. They’re not sure if they’re young enough. They’re not sure if they’re old enough. They’re not sure if their life is perfect enough yet. They’re not sure if anyone will listen to them. They’re not sure if parents will trust them. They’re not sure if parents should trust them. Um, and they’re certainly not sure about. 

[00:01:20] How to go about it and what’s truly required of them. You know, it can feel really unknown and. You know, I think. I think it’s a wonderful thing to be really. Um, consider it about this stuff too, because we’re not working with, with adults. We’re working with young people where we usually usually the, the mentors that I’m training. 

[00:01:41] I going to work with young people that are in the teenage years, or maybe tweens that have 10 to 12, right up to 18 and some work with, with kind of young adults, up to 25 as well. A few of them work with kids too. Like even younger. But we really focus on that tween and teen age. Mostly. And so of course we should be worried about this stuff, um, because we’re always going to be in a position of power when we’re working with young people and that’s something to take really seriously. 

[00:02:11] And so I love it when people are worried about this. Um, but we also really need more mentors in the world. And, um, and so I want to dive into. To what you need to be a great mentor. And of course, if you’re listening and you think, Hey, I’ve got some tips on this too. Please do share them. Um, I. 

[00:02:31] As, as I say, I think in the generic intro for every single episode, I’m, um, I’m not an expert at, this is there’s no experts here. Um, so please do share your tips as well. Reach out in, in DMS, on Instagram or tag us in a post where you share your top tips on being a really great mentor to. 

[00:02:50] Um, okay. So firstly, to be a really great mentor. I think you need to feel okay with, with who you are. Not all the way. Okay. Not perfect. But you do need to take care of yourself and have, and have gotten yourself to a place where you can be open to other people’s experiences. Um, you know, you don’t need to take up all the space using this as kind of like a platform to simply tell others, particularly young people. 

[00:03:15] How they should live. Um, you know, being willing to being willing to take a backseat and to listen is there is a really important part. I think of being a really great mentor. Um, The second thing is that you don’t have to have it all figured out. And in fact, we shouldn’t even try. Right. Um, young people are so, so wise. 

[00:03:36] Um, and so when we can hold space for them, rather than trying to teach them stuff all the time, or rather than trying to show up as though we ha we do have it all figured out and where we’re perfect. And here are three things that are gonna make your life amazing. Um, that’s the times when they’ll tune out, um, 

[00:03:51] And so. Um, Yeah. Finding a balance, I guess, if sharing and, and listening. And holding space for groups to connect with each other and share their experiences with each other. Is so, so powerful as well. Um, Sorry, powerful in these adolescent years where, where young people will, um, you know, They’ll turn to their peers. 

[00:04:16] Uh, as the people that they believe and will listen to the most. And so that can make group mentoring experiences really, really powerful. Um, and really special. And so, um, yeah, if we can curate that space for them. It’s amazing. And then of course you do need to learn and know how to do a bunch of stuff. When, when you’re, when you’re becoming a mentor, when you want to be a mentor. 

[00:04:41] Um, Yeah. And so some of those things are what they could be going through at the moment, which is changing all the time. Um, there’s different research coming out all the time. There’s different, um, experiences being shared all the time. So really tapping into what could be going on for them at any moment is, is a great thing to be aware of. Um, and it’s not necessarily that the young people you’ll be working with will be going through those particular things. 

[00:05:06] But it could be happening in their inner circles and in their worlds. And so being, being a little bit aware of what’s going on for young people right now is important, and that could be anything from you know, having a look at the research on, um, UNICEF’s website, you can, I think you can go to UNICEF and, and find your country and, and really drill down on the specific issues that are happening in your part of the world. Are for young people. Um, it can be really understanding the serious issues that are happening for a lot of young people, whether that’s self-harm or, Eating disorders. Uh, all of that sort of stuff. It’s, it’s good to know what those stats are and what’s kind of happening. 

[00:05:51] Um, even though, you know, in this, in this mentoring space coaching space where we want to be working with young people, Um, it’s, it’s preventative. We’re working in a preventative space. We’re not, um, we’re not therapists. We’re not trying to, to help a young person move through a crisis like that. 

[00:06:08] Um, so it’s more about just having that general knowledge. Um, and knowing what to look out for too, so that you can refer them on. Um, you can, you can report things. You can chat to parents if you need to. Uh, it’s good. Yeah. It’s it helps you as a mentor to feel really confident holding space for young people when you know what to look out for and, and, um, you’ve got those processes in place and you’ve got um, Even your referral documents and things like that set up so that you’re ready to go. 

[00:06:39] Uh, another thing that you really need to learn and to know is how to hold an engaging and nurturing space for all sorts of young people. Um, and I’m talking about looking at genders abilities, race, you know, there’s, there’s a lot to unlearn and learn in order to hold a really brave space for young people. 

[00:06:56] And, um, you know, young people are so onto all of this stuff too. So. It’s important that we’re keeping up with that as well. Um, Yeah. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot of work to do around that too. 

[00:07:10] You need to know how to put together and facilitate a really great event. So whether it’s a camp or a workshop or a one-on-one mentoring series, if you don’t want to work with, with groups, Um, it might be putting together a school program. Understanding how to put these together. Um, and how to do it in a way that’s going to be really engaging and empowering for the, for all sorts of young people from understanding their learning styles to group dynamics, to putting together curriculums. All of that stuff is so, so valuable and important in, in putting together a really fantastic experience for young people where they walk away going, um, or, you know, yeah. They come to the end of it. And, and they’re like, yes, this was, this is something I really needed. And, and, um, thank you. That’s what we want. Right. Um, The other thing that you really need to learn and to know is what your responsibilities are in terms of keeping them safe. 

[00:08:03] Um, what you need to report risk management codes of conduct. Um, insurance, all of that sort of stuff. Um, and, and this kind of stuff is quite different state to state country, to country, but understanding what you need to look out for and what you need to research in your area. 

[00:08:19] Um, it’s so, so important, so that, so that you are making sure that you’re doing, doing all the things and, and, uh, feeling really comfortable in holding that space for them. 

[00:08:30] And then usually in order for you to be supported to do this work and grow a sustainable business, you need to know how to market your programs and how to get the foundations of your business set up. All of that sort of thing. Um, which are quite unique in this youth space. So yeah, understanding that’s really important. 

[00:08:46] And again, this will, this will differ depending on where you are in the world, too. Um, I know in, in some of the countries where we’ve had youth mentors join us from, um, say Nepal or South Africa. Um, You know, a lot of, a lot of the marketing would, would then need to be much more around, um, education around what a mentor is and why. 

[00:09:07] Mentoring can be supportive for young people, um, how it differs to mental health and therapies and things like that. Which can often not really be talked about in some of those countries, too. Um, from what I, from what I hear from some of the mentors that come through our training. Um, and then, you know, if you think about a country like Australia, 

[00:09:26] The, um, the communities. Can be a lot more open to, to mentoring and coaching is a really wonderful way to support young people, but still it can take quite a bit of education around it, around the fact that it’s preventative. Um, and. And how, you know, fun and, and beautiful and, and special, it can be. 

[00:09:47] Um, Even going from regional areas to Metro areas can be very different in terms of the way that you market your programs because regional communities will often be. Um, really supportive in terms of getting, getting something up and running for the young people in the area, because they can often miss out on programs and, and wonderful experiences for the youth. 

[00:10:08] Um, and so you can get a lot of support just by, just by tapping into counsel, calling around, um, chatting to local businesses, things like that. Um, whereas in Metro areas and cities, it can be actually a little bit more challenging because there’s so much happening in the cities. And so you still need to find your way to. 

[00:10:28] To get in touch with communities and. And often it’s the parents that you want to be getting in touch with, or the schools. Um, or carers, you know, the people that will actually engage and pay for you to, to run the programs. 

[00:10:42] Um, so it’s getting a little off track from what you need to make a great mentor, but, but truly, I guess if you, if you want to be building a mentor business and you want to keep doing this work, then that sort of stuff is important to you. And it takes a lot of. A lot of different hats. Um, the other thing that you can think about though is being, uh, and one of our guest experts in the youth mentor training talked about this, he talked about being an intrepreneur, rather than an entrepreneur. 

[00:11:06] So looking out for organizations and programs that are already up and running for young people and volunteering with them, or, um, uh, trying to get a job with them. And quite a few of the, of the mentors that have come through our trainings have ended up, um, getting jobs in those sorts of organizations too. And they’re, and they’re loving that, especially. 

[00:11:26] Uh, especially in the early days where they’re just wanting to get more and more experience while they built their business on the side. 

[00:11:34] Um, okay. But notice that out of all of those things, I didn’t say that you have to have a certain qualification or be a certain age or have overcome something dramatic in your life. I didn’t say you need to be extroverted. When you are typical. And I didn’t say that you have to have worked with young people before in any capacity that comes up quite a lot, quite a bit. 

[00:11:54] I think sometimes when people go and have a look at our sales page for the youth mentor training and they see some of the testimonial videos are coming from people who were teachers. Or had worked in the mental health space before. They can feel like. Oh, I can’t do this. I’m I I’ve, haven’t done that. 

[00:12:11] Um, yeah, this is not the space for me, but. Um, truly, I would say. 70 or 80% of the people that come through our training. Um, have not worked with young people before, so it’s really about, um, Having that, that drive and that, that. Knowing within, um, or at least that curiosity that, um, I wonder if this is something I could really do. And I wonder if, um, yeah, I wonder. 

[00:12:37] If I can add to my toolkit and support young people in some way. Um, and then. The training kind of takes care of the rest, really? Because we take you through a process of getting clear on what you specifically have to offer young people. Um, what they’re going through, how to engage with them. How to put together programs and curriculums, the marketing stuff and the business stuff. So it all kind of leads onto each other. And there’s lots of templates and things like that. 

[00:13:06] Um, Yeah, so truly, you know, most people can be really great youth mentors. The trick is tapping into your unique strengths, experiences, passions, and values as a person. Um, because they’ll come through as a mentor and then curating something, that’s going to be perfect for the young people who will resonate with you. 

[00:13:23] Your energy, your passions, your values. It’s it’s not about trying to. Connect with every young person. Um, I think there are 1.2 billion young people in the world right now. Um, Yeah, we can’t reach them all on our own. And. Um, the more that we can show up authentically as ourselves and hold space, the way that feels natural for us, the more that will attract the young people that need exactly what we have. 

[00:13:50] You know, the young people that come to me are generally pretty gentle and introverted and a little bit creative and maybe don’t quite fit. Into, um, the typical worlds that young people are kind of in. You know, like, um, Uh, Regular schooling environments and things like that. Um, And so they feel, um, they feel a sense of calm when they come into spaces with me. 

[00:14:17] Uh, whereas, um, when we’re gearing up for, for our youth mentor conference at the moment and, um, all of the sessions alive, but one of them has been prerecorded and that was with. Josh Shipp and Josh has spoken to over 2 million teens live and he’s been on Oprah. He’s got a, he’s got a couple of bestselling books. 

[00:14:38] Uh, he’s built up. Um, a youth speaker training as well as a, um, a youth speaker agency in the U S um, And, you know, the thought. And so he’s incredible. Um, and the thought of me getting on stage, speaking to thousands of kids week in, week out. Um, is not something I would enjoy. At all. Um, but I love hearing the way that he works too. Um, and actually I was surprised. 

[00:15:05] In our interview that he is introverted himself. He just, he, he went through such. It’s such a, an incredible, uh, incredible is the wrong word. It’s such a big experience, I suppose, as, as a young person. Um, moving through the foster system and, um, he is so passionate about helping young people to, to feel valued within themselves and helping the adults around them to, to be that one caring adult that can. 

[00:15:34] That can save their life, which is exactly what he had and, and what he knows. Lots of young people need. Um, so my point is that we can, we can show up. In such different ways. And, um, as long as where we’re showing up. In a way that’s authentic for us. Um, that’s actually going to be the most supportive for young people. I mean, how many young people are such, um, 

[00:15:58] I’ve got such a great detector for bullshit, really. Um, you know, if you’re trying to be anything other than who you are. Um, they can pick that up straight away. And there’s enough adult in their life telling them how to be, or, or presenting. Uh, very. Specific polished front to them because they need to, with the roles that they’re in, in their lives, whether that’s, um, whether that’s parents, whether it’s teachers, whether it’s coaches, our principal at school, you know, they all have to show up in quite a particular way in order to, um, depending on the relationship that they have with the young person. 

[00:16:32] And so. To have an adult in their life. Who’s just being really real with them. And, um, and he’s also kind of stepping back and just asking questions and listening. Um, and facilitating that. Either one on monitoring group experiences. That’s that’s magic. That’s where the magic is. So. As I said there’s room for all of us. And it’s time for us to, to take the steps that we need to take to, to be there for them. Let’s let’s rally together and support them. 

[00:17:02] I know that if you’re listening to this, I have a feeling that you are already a really beautiful mentor. Just the way that you are. Um, Really beautiful coach holder space facilitator teacher. 

[00:17:17] Yeah, I already know that about you and if, and if you aren’t actually doing this work yet. I know that you have it within you. And I hope that you’ll reach out. I actually really loved just jumping on, on 15 minute calls with people to. Here about, um, not little niggling feeling that they have about working with young people. And just saying if there’s something I can support them with. So, um, yeah, please do, please do reach out to me for a chat. If you feel called to, after listening to this. 

[00:17:49] Um, and also, as I said, right at the beginning, if you’ve got some tips about how to be a really great mentor, Um, I’d love to hear them too. So you can either DM us at shine from within HQ on Instagram. Or as I said, I encourage you to create your own video or post or carousel or story or whatever about what you think makes a really great mentor and tag us in it. I’d love. I’d love to say it and love to hear it. 

[00:18:13] Thanks for listening to this, um, a little bit unconventional episode on the youth mentor podcast. We’ll we’ll get back to amazing interviews with incredible experts, um, in the rest of the series. But, um, yeah, I just, I’m having lots of chats with people at the moment and. And that that feeling of not being enough comes up so often and can hold people back for years at a time. 

[00:18:39] Um, Yeah. And you know, young people need us. Sort of, they need the spaces. It’s not about us. It’s about just creating the spaces for them. To yeah. To feel heard, to feel valued, to explore what’s important to them. To, um, talk through staff. You know, uh, and to understand more about. What they might be going through and what’s next and to learn. 

[00:19:07] Really cool. Life skills and that kind of thing too. Yeah. There’s so much we can do. Thanks for listening. 

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