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Waiting for a Mentor 0327: Kids need support from others

It’s all about having someone in your corner. Support is important for everyone, young or older. We like knowing who will be there for us and whom we can count on. We enjoy the presence of those who make us giggle, who cause us to question and who help us sift through the tough times.

According to the Search Institute and its work with the 40 Developmental Assets (2009), young people need to experience the presence, care, help and love of their families and many others. They need organizations and institutions that provide positive, nurturing environments.

These include positive family support and communication, caring communities and schools, parent involvement in schooling and other adult relationships. Search research shows that young people are most successful when they have support from three or more non-parent adults.

Often overlooked are the positive influence of friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, volunteers, grandparents, bus drivers, daycare providers, store clerks and other people who interact daily with our children.

Consider this little 8-year-old boy who is being mentored by a supportive man from our area. The school day has been difficult for this boy. In fact, a check with the school office showed that this boy had more weekly referrals for discipline issues than any other student in his school.

In the meantime, the mentor has been working to establish a rapport with the boy — taking part in Kinship activities and spending a couple hours a week just hanging out together. The boy also shared his frustrations with school and friends. The mentor and the boy struck a deal.

Knowing that the boy’s favorite food was a juicy double cheeseburger, the mentor challenged him to this special treat if he went one complete week without a discipline referral. All the while, the mentor encouraged and reminded him that he could do this.

The first week was amazing. Only one referral. Although proud of this accomplishment, it still didn’t warrant a double cheeseburger. The next week the school staff joined the mentor in supporting his effort. That week he received not a single referral, a lot of praise and support, and the mentor and mentee shared a delicious burger at a local fast food restaurant!

In our hectic world with so many demands, we often forget the importance of connecting with one another and holding our children accountable. This little boy is learning that positive actions produce positive consequences. Even a simple gesture or smile from an adult can lift that child to new heights.

Offering care and support to young people can be one of the best behavior interventions around. Discover how you can make a difference by mentoring a child. Kinship Partners serves families in Crow Wing and southern Cass counties and the Staples/Motley area by providing positive role models to youth ages 5 to 14.

Our offices are located in Pequot Lakes, Brainerd, Crosby and Staples. Call 218-454-8016 or visit for more information.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889