Why All Teenagers Need Non-Parent Mentors

Many adults look to their pasts and recall the profound influence a mentor had on their lives during adolescence. Whether it was a teacher, neighbour, clergy member or sports coach, having the one-on-one support of a caring adult who is not a parent can yield positive, life-changing outcomes.

In a recent study involving more than 70 mentoring programs and more than 25,000 young people, researchers affirm what many other smaller studies have found—that mentoring has a significant effect on positive youth development (Raposa, et. al. 2019). This study, a meta-analysis, combined the results from many mentoring studies conducted between 1975 and 2017 to learn more about youth outcomes and the conditions under which mentoring is most effective.

Benefits of Mentoring During Adolescence

The following is a synopsis of what the Raposa study uncovered from the research on mentoring and how it supports the development of three interconnected processes during the teen years: 1) social-emotional learning, 2) cognitive learning, and 3) identity formation.

Research shows that adult mentoring:

  • Models positive social skills and facilitates interpersonal connections beyond the family.
  • Helps young people interpret and manage life challenges, including relationships with peers and parents.
  • Facilitates meaningful conversations that boost cognitive skills and provides perspective.
    Strengthens self-regulation, one’s ability to manage emotions and impulses—to think before acting.
  • Promotes identity development, a key task of adolescence, through modelling core qualities that contribute to human thriving, like empathy, curiosity, resourcefulness, and resilience.
  • Opens doors to new ways of thinking, resources, and opportunities.
    Fosters self-efficacy—a belief in oneself.