by Nicole Benner

Happy July everyone! We are officially in full-blown summer—heat and all. We hope that you are loving all of the extra time with your Littles.

This month, we wanted to take some time to offer up some tips on mentoring. For anyone who has been working or volunteering in this field, we know that it isn’t always easy. Always rewarding, yes. But not always easy. So how do we keep ourselves motivated through the tough times?

Below are some helpful tips for when you are in a mentoring slump:

  1. Check your expectations. Remember that, as a Big, your job is not to “change” your Little, but to meet them where they are and model positive behaviors. Acknowledge the Little, encouraging everyday moments like thank yous and smiles.
  2. Check your role. We all hear it when we become Bigs—your role is to be a positive role model, an adult friend and a nurturer of possibilities. THAT’S IT. Do not try to take on the role of teacher, social worker, babysitter, financial supporter or mentor to the whole family. That is when we burn out.
  3. Check your boundaries. This one goes hand in hand with your role. Does your Little consistently ask to bring friends along? Do they consistently ask for expensive outings? Do they call you multiple times a day? Many times these things can be easily avoided or changed—just set boundaries and stand firm in them.
  4. Utilize your resources. Match Support is here whenever you need it. If you need to talk about your match call 443-783-8166 and let us know!
  5. Always remember that you come first! Mentoring is a volunteer opportunity and we absolutely understand that things happen. Self-care, family care, etc. should always come first. Just be sure to chat with your Little, their family and your MS specialist if you have things that require you to slow down a bit.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore has a Mentoring 101 Training on July 19th from 6:00-8:00 PM. It’s FREE for Bigs and Wicomico Mentoring Project Mentors. $5 for all others. Email to reserve a seat!