HomeLearning CentreMentor Resources - ResiliencePart 3: Navigating and Negotiating for the 7 Aspects of Resilience

Resilience - Part 3

Resilience: A Practical Guide for Mentors

As a volunteer mentor, understanding resilience and its practical implementation will assist you and your Little Sister or Little Brother in building a strong, sustainable, resilient match. In this module, you'll read about relatively simple yet very important ways to enhance your mentee’s self esteem and support their ability to cope with life’s challenges and opportunities.


Navigating and Negotiating for the 7 Aspects of Resilience

Let’s get started! Ask yourself:

  • What meaningful resources does my mentee already have access to?
  • What does success mean to my mentee? Remember that success for your mentee may be very different than success from your perspective.

Tips to help your mentee develop strength in each of the 7 aspects of resilience:

“In our haste to change a person’s behaviour, we often overlook how their current behaviours make sense to them. Try as we might as adults or professionals to guide them, they will not heed our words of advice or intervention until they are confident we understand they are already doing the best they can with what they have.”

- Dr. Michael Ungar

1. Access to material resources

Try to get to know your mentee and their life contexts. Are they safe and fed? Do they have clothing that makes them feel like they belong among their friends? Do they have access to recreational opportunities? What can you as a Big Brother or Big Sister do to help the child have these opportunities? As always in your mentoring relationship, if you have any questions or concerns, speak with your program staff.

2. Relationships

  • Foster your mentee’s positive connections with friends, family, and community.
  • Consistently show up as planned.
  • Provide caring and support.
  • Encourage your mentee to develop friendships with classmates.

3. Identity

  • Interact in a way that communicates acceptance, care, and a sense of being valued.
  • Listen to what your mentee has to say. Sounds simple, but how often do we stop and really listen to children and youth?
  • Respect their opinions.

4. Power and control

  • Provide opportunities for organizational/community participation and developing a sense of responsibility.
  • Set clear, consistent boundaries, and ask for their input as you establish boundaries.
  • Set and communicate high expectations. Make sure your mentee knows that you expect them to do the best they can and that mistakes are opportunities to learn.
  • Teach life skills to your mentee. Life skills can range from navigating your community bus system or doing a craft, to conflict resolution and stress management.

5. Cultural adherence

  • Be sensitive to and appreciate your mentee’s uniqueness (ethno-cultural, social, sexual orientation, and otherwise).
  • Understand their context: What is acceptable in the young person’s school, community, or peer group may not be in sync with the expectations and beliefs in their home. It is essential to help them navigate appropriately and to appreciate the value of both.

6. Social justice

  • Be fair and consistent. Remember that adults are responsible for protecting children and for ensuring their rights are respected.

7. Cohesion

  • Provide opportunities for meaningful participation. Start with small successes and opportunities to participate – provide opportunities for your mentee to strive and to succeed. As you let them demonstrate their competence and willingness to contribute in meaningful ways, you’ll see their confidence – and their resilience – grow.

Remember: create opportunities for your Little Brother or Little Sister to take on challenges in constructive ways so they can learn to navigate and negotiate successfully.

Never Give Up! Positive change occurs in the context of authentic relationships – your mentee needs to know someone cares. Their perspective of their lives and what they need is primary, so you need to value and start with what is important to them. They will embrace change when they are invited to start with what feels right to them.

Key Points to Remember

  • Individuals who show resilience have an attitude of hope and optimism, as well as the ability to cope with, and bounce back from, life's challenges and demands.
  • As a mentor, you are able to shape a child's environment, fostering resilience in your mentee.
  • Mentees need opportunities to make mistakes, take risks, and assume responsibilities for themselves and others. They need your support to help them learn and grow from these experiences.
  • Never give up! Show your mentee that you value them by engaging in activities that are meaningful to them. Never stop trying, and you'll never stop learning.