What is your first reaction when a child or young person tells you about a hardship they are facing? Do you feel as though you want to sort it out and save them from those negative feelings or experiences? When they are very young this is natural and right, but at some point we have to stop intervening and solving their problems and ‘let go’, allowing them to deal with issues themselves. This is part of their growing up. As mentors we can
play a crucial role in helping them build resilience in order to deal positively with anything that comes at them in life.
Resilience describes our ability and readiness to cope with hard- ship and bounce back from setbacks. Some are specific events, such as loss and grief, poor exam results, a job interview rejection or the break-up of a relationship. Others are ongoing, such as bullying, illness, financial strain or any number of everyday stresses. Sometimes we simply need resilience to cope with change.
If the motor of resilience is well-being, its wheels are good self-awareness. Talk through the following areas with your mentee. Discuss a tough time they have had. How well, out of ten, did they cope? What are the three biggest threats they are currently facing? How can they be better prepared to cope? Ask the following questions to continue the discussion.
- How does eating healthily, exercising and getting good sleep affect your mood and ability to cope with stress?
- Is this something you actively build into your coping strategy?
- To what extent does your confidence and self-esteem affect the way you handle other crises and stresses?
- What can you do to build your mental health?
- Do you feel more in control when you forward plan and get everything well organised? Or when you feel free to react, adapt and be spontaneous?
- Do you have strong goals you are aiming to achieve?
- How well are you able to read the signs that you are getting overwhelmed or stressed?
- How well do you regulate your emotions?
- How often do you ‘lose it’?
- Who do you talk to about different stresses?
- Out of ten, how quickly and effectively do you share your burdens?
- Who do you pray with about life?
- What do you do with other people for fun? What lifts your spirits?
- How good are you at taking advice and allowing your percep- tions to be changed by others?
SPIRIT AND FAITH
- What part does worship play in your strategy for tackling life?
- Do you have specific Bible verses or stories, promises and prophe- sies from God that you use to steer you through tough times?
- How could you better employ spiritual aids and practices to keep yourself strong?
JOEL TOOMBS has an MA in Christian mentoring and wrote the Grove booklet, Mentoring and Young People. He is a volunteer youth worker.