Mentor Tip:"Dos" when Mentoring Teens

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Subject: Tips on"dos" when mentoring teens

Since becoming self-determined is a lifelong process, you can be a co-learner as you help young people develop self-determination skills. Successful individuals with disabilities offered the following advice as part of an electronic mentoring community discussion.

  • Allow them to reach for their dreams, regardless of how impossible it may seem. Encourage them when the going gets rough, let them work at it themselves to achieve their dreams, and be there to say, "Job well done!" when they make it! I thank God daily for those teachers, my family, and friends who didn't give up on me or my goals. They made my success possible!! (college student who is deaf)
  • Help a disabled student accept the fact that they are disabled. Some disabled students do not want to admit their disability. Some blind students, for example, don't want to use a cane because they fear that people might look at them differently. Every child wants to be like everyone else. I remember when I was declared legally blind I didn't have the self-esteem to admit that I was blind. I didn't want to use the adaptive materials that my vision teacher provided. My grades started to slip, and I didn't feel good at all. The day that I got over the self-esteem issue was the day that I could see that adaptive materials could actually help me out in the classroom. (college student who is blind)
  • Allow young people to keep their door of opportunity open, and remind them that the door will always be open as long as they allow it to be open. (college student who had a stroke)
  • Caring adults can impact and shape the self-esteem of a kid, especially one who is disabled. When a kid is supported by someone outside of the their family, they feel special and valued. This"mentor" can let the child know that they believe in them. A belief is one step on the road to success. (high school student with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder)
  • Give children with disabilities responsibilities at a young age, similar to those given to other children. (college student who is blind)
  • Everyone should always try to reach their full potential, and they should expect nothing more and nothing less. (college student with low vision)
  • If a student is having a difficult time in one academic area, gently point out to them what their strengths are, what they are better at. (college student who had a stroke)
  • Instill self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-advocacy at a very young age. Allow children to learn how to be independent so that they don't have to learn how to do it when they become adults. I think when parents do everything for their children it hinders their ability to develop and be able to make their own judgments. Instill information into children that will allow them to make good judgments. (graduate student with a hearing impairment)
  • Parents, teachers, and society need to come to understand that disabilities are merely factors of life, not life itself. Parents of disabled children should reinforce, from the time their children are young, that disabilities are circumventable. They must help their children accept their disabilities and then encourage them to lead their lives to the utmost normalcy. As for teachers, they must come to understand that disabled children are, in most instances, capable of achieving the same levels of academic success as any other child. Teachers must come to see disabilities as superficial qualities but simultaneously realize that disabled children may need some special accommodations. Last, society must be educated as to the capabilities of disabled individuals. While there have been vast shifts in societal thought concerning the abilities of the disabled, too many individuals still hold outdated and ignorant views about people with disabilities. It is not enough that laws exist to protect the interests of the disabled. Society must learn to take those laws to heart to ensure that all children, disabled or not, are able to form and maintain high expectations for themselves. The change will be gradual but well worth it! (adult who is blind)
  • Teach your child about right and wrong. Encourage him to stand up for what is right. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • What really helps kids with disabilities is being treated just like everyone else. If they get special treatment, then they will expect to be treated like that all their lives. (high school student with speech, hearing, and mobility impairments)

Keep these words of wisdom in mind as you mentor protégés.