Mentoring at Any Age

There aren’t any age restrictions on mentoring. No, really, we’re totally serious! If you have a particular skill or have expertise in an area and want to share it, you can be a mentor to someone else! It does not have to be a life changing skill or earth shattering information. It can be anything: how to write their name, set the table, ride a bike, or even how to unlock Mom’s iPad. Parents, you might be pleasantly surprised at what young children can teach each other. And big kids, know this: mentoring younger siblings, even when you yourself are young, comes with the excellent benefit of strengthening sibling bonds. You could be a big hero to your younger brother or sister. Imagine how that will feel, and how proud of you everyone will be!

There are some skills that may more obviously require a mentor simply because they are something that most people struggle with. Say a younger brother is in first grade and is just starting to learn part-part-whole maps. Maybe his parents have no idea what that is because they were already done with school before the schools started teaching Common Core. But the older brother knows. He learned it that way two years ago and remembers how. He can sit with his younger brother and explain it to him (and maybe Mom and Dad, just for good measure). Does it matter that he’s only eight? Of course not. He is the expert in the house! What about the six-year-old who was so excited when she learned to read her first book all by herself that she taught her four-year-old sister how to read the book too? Now they both can read together! Still think you’re too young to mentor? We didn’t think so.

There’s plenty of skills that your younger brother or sister can’t do, and other information that they don’t yet know. You can teach it to them! Think about it. What would you have wanted someone to help you with? Reach out to your sibling and be the person you wish you’d had. Do you remember something that was incredibly frustrating or hard for you but you finally mastered? It could be anything. Sight reading some hard words. Your multiplication tables. Tying your shoes. Throwing a perfect spiral. Figuring out that super hard level in Angry Birds. Whatever it is, you may find your younger brother or sister struggling through it as well. Maybe the technique you used to master it could be handed down to your younger sibling. All you have to do is spend some time and show them. We promise they’ll be incredibly grateful!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are too young to make a difference. Observe your younger brother or sister and see if there is something they are struggling with, and think about whether or not you can offer some pointers. If you can, great! If not, keep looking. You’d be surprised at how, if you are paying attention, an opportunity will present itself!