Neutral Ground Grafton Martial Arts is committed to providing mentoring relationships to all of our students as a means for personal growth and self-development through martial arts. In life, it is the people that we are surrounded by who shape and transform our character and make us into who we are now and in the future. It is our privilege to be able to play a transformative role in the lives of all of our students, regardless of age, and it’s a core tenet among all of the members in our academy.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who plays more than just a teaching or coaching role in someone’s life, being an experienced and trusted advisor and role model who can be turned to for guidance in any aspect of life. This guidance focuses on life choices and scenarios that may be difficult to navigate, developing personal goals for the future, and shaping a student into a better version of themselves with guidance, support, and the help of someone who has more experience navigating life.
As mentors, we encourage our students to discuss things that are important in their lives like behaviors and characteristics they value and would like to see in themselves, future goals and aspirations, and any trials and hurdles that they may be facing. Since these conversations between the mentor and student are led by the student, the mentor can provide personal, tailormade guidance that helps our students face challenges confidently while having someone help critique and develop their goals and behavior.
An ongoing mentoring relationship then provides support and motivation for students to stay on track to achieve their personal goals.
The Benefits of Mentoring for Children and Teens
Both children and teens have a unique predisposition to be affected by their role models and peers, mirroring and experimenting with the behaviors that they see around them. Being young also means that many of the situations and environments they find themselves in are unfamiliar and new, and the guidance of a mentor in many of these situations can be the difference between walking in the right direction and gaining confidence or having to learn from mistakes that can impact their self-esteem.
Mentors Help with Building Strong Relationships
Children and teens who build relationships with mentors learn how to set healthy boundaries based on mutual respect, a habit that transfers into other relationships later in life. By building healthy relationships with adults who aren’t family members, children and teens learn to grow their emotional regulation and awareness skills as well as their communication and interpersonal skills while connecting with others on a more mature level.
Mentors Build Self-Esteem and Confidence
Confidence and self-esteem can be a struggle for many children and teens, and one of the key goals of a good mentor is to help them feel confident about themselves by teaching them how to accurately see themselves and their strengths while recognizing their accomplishments. Mentors can act as filters that remove the unrealistic and damaging messages many young people receive about themselves from bullies, bad experiences, negative role models, and other aspects of their environment.
Lower Rates of Addiction Later in Life
Studies have proven that youth who have mentoring relationships with adults are less likely to develop behaviors like substance and alcohol abuse later in life. The caring relationships they build with mentors helps to avoid high-risk behavior by improving their self-esteem and by providing them with a long-term vision of themselves for the future that gives them a clear reason to say no to addictive behaviors.
Better Behavior at Home and School
Stable adult relationships provide young kids and teens with the tools to control their behavior and learn what correct behavior looks like in a wide range of settings. This directly effects how they behave in school and at home, since they mimic and learn the social etiquette modeled for them by a respectable, positive mentor and role model. This leads to better performance in school and lower dropout rates, improved college enrollment rates, and better relationships with family members and friends throughout life.
Healthier Lifestyle Choices
Kids who lack guidance in life are more prone to unhealthy lifestyle choices which negatively impact them in the long run because they can’t see a clear picture of what they want to be in the future. A healthy diet, exercise, mindfulness, self-discipline, and, later in life, safe sex and relationship practices, all require us to think of what is best for our future rather than giving in to short-sighted behaviors that don’t consider the repercussions for our actions.
As a mentor helps develop and set long-term goals and a vision for the future, kids and teens can develop a higher perspective on how their decisions will take them toward or away from their long-term goals.
The Benefits of Mentoring for Adults
As well as reaping many of the same benefits mentioned above for children and teenagers, adults who develop working relationships with mentors can see benefits in:
Making Positive Lifestyle Changes
Finding the time, energy, and motivation to make a lifestyle change can be difficult, whether it’s to quit a habit, change your diet, exercise more, or transform your life in any other way. A mentor’s support, encouragement, and personal interest in your success as well as useful tips and experience can be the difference between making a change or sticking to a bad habit. A huge part of this lies in developing sets of goals that are personally rewarding to you, a process that a mentor can instigate and help with.
Overcoming Difficult Circumstances
Mentors can also act as advisers and trusted confidants and are often the first people you can turn to during a personal emergency when you need help, advice, or someone to talk to. Mentors bring all of their own life experiences with them which can be hugely applicable to your own situation, giving you some extra perspective and guidance to get through a difficult time in your life.
Improving Family Bonds
Both a direct and indirect result of adult mentoring is an improved relationship with others, particularly with family members. Indirectly, this is because a mentoring relationship provides our adult students with a sense of belonging, connection, and camaraderie which relieves any stress and anxiety that may arise from a family situation.
But more importantly, mentoring can directly help adults in their family life through advice, counseling, and conversation, connecting them with the personal experiences and lessons of the mentor for them to learn from and apply in their daily life. This can help anyone to connect and communicate with family members who they might not have had a complete understanding of before.