This list was originally developed to help parents mentor their children. The suggestions listed below are equally relevant to mentor relationships with students, employees, and other adults.

• Accept your children unconditionally, just the way they are. Begin with them wherever they are in their development. Remind yourself that they’re “right on schedule!”

• Appreciate their uniqueness. Give them space to go in different directions than you had imagined or desired for them.

• Validate their reality or experience, even if it’s different from yours.

• Enlarge their concept of the world and their understanding of how it works.

• Believe in them. Encourage them with love and faith (instead of threats, demands, or derision) to help them achieve, confront their fears, and go beyond their perceived capabilities.

• Support their need for emotional safety, some of which will come from the love and acceptance you offer, and some of which from the structure and limits you provide.

• Challenge their beliefs to expand their perception of possibilities for themselves.

• Help them through a hard time by being there, by listening, and by having faith in their ability to persevere and overcome adversity.

• Provide an outlet for their feelings without judging, advising, or compromising their sense of safety.

• Help them discover hidden facets of themselves. Widen the frame of their self-perception by seeing them beyond who they are now.

• Inspire an appreciation for new things. Light a fire with your own passion and appreciation for something that you enjoy or value.

• Demonstrate the kinds of behaviors and values you would like them to learn. Model virtues such as self-discipline, fairness, honesty, integrity, and responsibility in your interactions with them and others.

Excerpt from The Parent’s Little Book of Lists: Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Parenting, by Dr. Jane Bluestein, © 1997, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.

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Related resources:

Click here for information about Mentors, Masters and Mrs. MacGregor: Stories of Teachers Making a Difference (book)

Click here for information about “Secrets of Successful Mentorship” (article)

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