Welcome back to the February Mentor Minute! Last month, we introduced five key character qualities that we can look to build into our students in 2020. These qualities are known as “The Five C’s of Youth Development,” and include: competence, confidence, connection, character, and compassion.

The question we should all be asking as mentors is, how do we build these kind of qualities into our students? This week, we’ll continue to answer that question by taking a closer look at the fifth quality: CARING & COMPASSION.

Remember, caring and compassion means “having a sense of sympathy and empathy for others, leading to a desire to help or serve them.

Students who grow in this quality learn to empathize with others and to have compassion for people in difficult circumstances. Because of this, these students tend to be more motivated to be involved in their communities, volunteer, and support their friends and family in times of need.

As mentors, we can build caring and compassion into our students in a couple of ways:

Learn together about community needs and social issues, and what you can do about them. You can start doing this by finding out what your student cares about. As you talk more about their personal interests and experiences, you’ll learn about what community needs or societal issues that interest them. And, this will give you an opportunity to explore together how they can volunteer or get involved in some way.
Encourage your student to see other people’s views and situations. As mentors, we can help students see both sides of a situation they are facing, and help them think about why other people think and act the way they do. Use questions like:

“How do you think that person felt when…?”
“Why do you think that person reacted by…?”
“What would you have done if that had been you?”

Conversations like this help students learn how to practice empathy and how to be more caring and compassionate when they face difficult issues and situations.

However, you end up helping your student build caring and compassion, make sure that you are prepared and open to talking about serious feelings and emotions (appropriately). If you are comfortable sharing your own experiences where empathy and compassion were needed, your student may find it easier to talk to you when they are in the middle of a difficult situation.

Check back next week as we continue to look at how we can build these character qualities into the students we mentor!

–Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach