One way that you can have an impact on your community is to become a mentor to a child or a parent. Mentors can come in many forms and can be formal, such as a coach or tutor, or informal, like a neighbor. By being a mentor to children or parents, you can help great childhoods happen in several ways.
Mentors create and strengthen relationships among parents and children
Relationships between adults and other adults as well as adults and children are critical to the healthy development of children and the prevention of abuse and neglect. All parents need help from time to time. By being present and available to children or adults, mentors can provide support and stability to a parent in need. Reducing the isolation that parents feel and building a network of stable and helpful adults are two key ways that mentors can help prevent abuse and neglect. Learn more about the power of relationships.
Mentors enhance child development
In the words of Dr. Jack Shonkoff, one caring adult can change a child’s life. Mentors can support developing children not only by supporting their parents, but by providing another role model and caring adult that children can learn from. Mentors can strengthen child development by working with children to increase their social and emotional competence. A good example is a coach teaching a young player how to manage their emotions during a frustrating game. Learn more about strengthening social and emotional learning.
Mentors promote protective factors
“Protective factors” are the characteristics present in a family that lead to safety and stability. The opposite of risk factors, these five characteristics can be strengthened at a community level to help families thrive. Mentors help strengthen these protective factors in several ways at once. For example, a coach can not only open new social connections for parents, but can also provide a role model for children, helping to increase their social and emotional competence. Learn more about the protective factors.
How will you mentor? See our infographic for some ideas on how you can get involved and research programs that you might be interested in to see if they are already available in your community.