Decision Making - Pre-Module Excercise

Decision Making

You and your mentee will be faced with many decisions and opportunities. Here, you’ll find guidance on how to make child-focused, ethical decisions in different mentoring situations.


You may want to think about how you would handle common situations that arise in mentoring. Choose the best response to each of the questions below.

As you will see, some of the questions have obvious answers, while others are more obscure -- the important thing is that you are thinking about each circumstance!

1. Deciding to prematurely end a match with your mentee can:

  1. Leave your Little Brother or Little Sister feeling abandoned
  2.  Decrease their self-esteem
  3.  Leave them worse off than they were before the match started
  4.  Impair future relationships they may have with a mentor
  5. All of the above
Answer:  E. All of the above. Becoming a mentor is a big commitment, and it’s important to ensure that you are up for the challenge before starting a match.

2. If things aren’t “clicking” with you and your mentee after a few outings, it’s a clear sign that things are not going well.

  1. True
  2. False
Answer: B. False. Some children and youth matched through our programs may have been let down in the past and need time to develop trust. Others may simply be shy. It’s important to exercise patience and let the friendship develop at its own pace.

3. You have been matched with a mentee from a different ethno-cultural background than your own. With regard to the uniqueness each of you brings to the match, you should:

  1. Downplay the importance of culture and act as though you have similar backgrounds
  2. Encourage them to embrace their culture and celebrate the differences between you
  3. Be careful not to discuss cultural matters
  4. None of the above
Answer: B. What better way to increase understanding and strengthen your friendship than by encouraging them to embrace their culture and by celebrating the differences between you?

4. Mentors, along with the parents and guardians, are the primary decision-makers with regard to the child or youth.

  1.   True
  2.   False
Answer: B. False. While some mentors may have a strong relationship with the parent or guardian, and feel comfortable providing their perspective, it’s important to remember that the parents or guardians are the primary decision-makers.

5. You are a hiring manager at a chain supermarket and your teenage mentee is looking for a summer job at a supermarket. Which of the following is the best way to help them out?

  1. Hire them
  2. Pull strings to get them hired under another manager at your store
  3. Give them the name of a contact at another location
  4. None of the above
Answer: C. Working in the same location as your mentee, particularly in a manager-employee arrangement, oversteps the bounds of mentoring and is greatly discouraged. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use your connections! Giving your mentee the name of a contact at another store, along with some practical tips, is a great help and empowers them to do their own search.

6. Providing emotional support to the parent or guardian is part of your role as a mentor.

  1. True
  2.   False
Answer: B. False. Your principal role as a mentor is to be a friend to your Little Sister or Little Brother. Providing emotional support to a parent may make your mentee feel uncomfortable or think that you’re not there for them.

7. When your mentee tells you they have a secret, you should avoid promising to keep it before you know what it is.

  1. True
  2. False
Answer: A. True. It’s important to let your mentee know that you are there to listen, but that you may not be able to keep the secret, depending on what they say. In fact, certain types of information, such as information related to abuse or suspected abuse, must be reported to the appropriate authorities.

8. Which of the following pieces of information about your mentee is it generally NOT ok to divulge to your friends and family?

  1. Their first name
  2. Their age
  3. The school they go to
  4.  How many pets they have
  5. All are ok to divulge
This is a tough one, as it can depend on the program, agency policies, and the community in which your match resides. For example, agencies and programs in a large community may require you not divulge the child’s school; this may not be realistic in a small community. Confidentiality and respect for personal boundaries is critical, and it’s important that you not share detailed or confidential information with anyone other than the match participants. The trust established in your match could be broken if these boundaries are not respected. The one exception could be in the case of a disclosure of abuse or suspected abuse – discussed later in this module. You will have signed a match confidentiality agreement. Please revisit this periodically, and chat with your program staff so you’re sure to be comfortable with the policies.

9. Mentoring is a partnership between which of the following individuals?

  1. The parents or guardians
  2. The mentor
  3. The child or youth
  4. The program staff at your Big Brothers Big Sisters agency
  5. All of the above
Answer: E. Mentoring is a partnership among all the individuals listed above and everyone has an important role to play in the success of each mentoring match. In site-based programs, the school liaison is also an important member of the match.

10. You are faced with a situation regarding your mentee that you’re unsure how to handle. From the following, what would be your best first course of action?

  1. Be proactive and employ your problem-solving skills to address the issue
  2.  Take swift action and hope for the best
  3. Call the program staff at your agency; they’ll help you decide on the best course of action
  4. Remove yourself from the situation and hope that the problem solves itself
Answer: C. The program staff at your local agency are professionally designated and an invaluable resource, there to provide expert advice to help with any situation. It’s important to remember that your role is first and foremost to be a friend to your Little Sister or Little Brother. Please seek advice when confusing or complex situations arise. But wait! You may be thinking this all makes sense, except for the fact that you’re in the situation and you need to respond. You may want to anticipate being in this situation. Think about simple words you can use that are constructive and supportive, knowing that you’ll be touching base with program staff to ensure follow up support is provided.

 Thanks for taking the time to go through this! Remember, you’re welcome to call or email the program staff at your agency, to talk about any questions that may arise as you go through this module.