The benefits of strong relationships between youth and their mentors can be seen across the board. Here at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we ensure that our matches are cohesive and beneficial to both our Bigs and Littles. The importance of a well fit match can change the outcome of success for both parties involved, so we are sure to match interests and goals of Bigs and Littles, as well as, being sure that the match will last at least a year so that the children can reap the benefits of having a mentor. You can read about the benefits to the children in the article below!
Benefits for Young People
Mentoring is often one component of a program that involves other elements, such as tutoring or life skills training and coaching. The supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees are both immediate and long-term and contribute to a host of benefits for mentors and mentees.
Benefits for youth:
Increased high school graduation rates
Lower high school dropout rates
Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
Better attitude about school
Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations
Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
Improved behavior, both at home and at school
Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
Improved interpersonal skills
Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use (MENTOR, 2009; Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009)
Benefits for mentors:
A sense of accomplishment
Creation of networks of volunteers
Insight into childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood
Increased patience and improved supervisory skills (U.S. Department of Labor, n.d.)
Mentoring can help youth as they go through challenging life transitions, including dealing with stressful changes at home or transitioning to adulthood. Close, healthy, supportive relationships between mentors and mentees that last for a significant portion of time (i.e., more than one year) are central to success. Without this, mentoring programs run the risk of harming young people who are paired with mentors ill-equipped to meet the mentees’ needs. Specifically, relationships with mentors that last less than three months; where there is irregular and inconsistent contact; where there is a disconnect between the personalities, interests, and expectations of the mentors and mentees; where mentors are unprepared and lack skills to relate to youth; and where there is no emotional bond between the mentor and mentee have been found to be harmful to youth (Jekielek et al., 2002; Rhodes & DuBois, 2006).