Before I Mentor Your Child
Before I can let a parent know whether I can help their child, I need to gather some important information from both parent and child. While there are some cases where I can help, there are also cases where I can’t help.
I NEED To UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM
What’s the problem?
Exactly what kind of a school-related stress problem are we looking at, here?
The problems the people I work with face generally tend to fall into one of three categories:
SCENARIO 1: This is when a student is very conscientious, highly self-motivated and self-directed, focused, but the parent is concerned about their stress levels and sleeping patterns. These are the students who teachers or parents may describe as role model students, but who’s emotional well-being can suffer, if left unnurtured. They’re very successful, but also very anxious and stressed, sometimes to the point of panicking, getting angry very easily, or crying from the stress of school-related work/exams.
SCENARIO 2: This when is a student’s experiencing chronic stress, because of a history of school-related performance issues that usually goes back to the start of Middle School (6th Grade in the US, Year 7 in the UK), when things started to get hard. Their performance-related stress has been making it harder and harder for them to be able to focus on their homework. They’re struggling to cope with the increasingly challenging academic demands of their school curriculum as the years go by, and they struggle to motivate themselves to always do their best, because they’re concept of what effort means is underdeveloped.
SCENARIO #3: The parent is being proactive in wanting their child to develop their study and social skills. Everything is going well, the student is self-motivated, conscientious, and always tries their best. The parent wants to strengthen their child’s emotional resilience through an early introduction to emotional self-care practices that they can turn to, in times of stress, when the difficult exam years come along.
There is, of course, another category of problems, and that’s the serious cases of psychological stress. This is perhaps the most important reason why I investigate before making an offer, as I first need to understand if I can even help, to start with, or if the problem requires the expertise of a qualified mental health professional.
I have had cases where I’ve had to tell the parent: I’m very sorry, but unfortunately I cannot help at this point in time, as the problem goes beyond my area of expertise. In these cases, I have recommended that they find a psychologist, or mental health professional who they can trust to help and support.
I NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW LONG YOUR CHILD HAS HAD THIS PROBLEM
There’s a lot more work to be done in re-educating someone’s mindset, attitude and emotional disposition when it’s a long-standing problem that’s been developing over a matter of years, compared to when it’s in its early stages.
In order to design a personalized educational program plan, and make an offer, I need to understand how long a student has had this school-related stress problem.
If they’ve only had this problem for a year, for example, re-educating them to replace their bad study habits, sleeping routines, morning routines, evening routines, and/or emotional self-care habits with more helpful habits will require less intervention than if they’ve had problems with their self-care and study routines for years.
I NEED TO ASK YOUR CHILD SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR WILLINGNESS TO MAKE CHANGES IN THEIR LIFE
It’s usually one of the parents who come to me find out if I can help their child, because they’re worried about their child’s future or well-being. However, for me to be able to help student reduce their school-related stress, what I need to know is how willing the youth is to commit to making changes in their life. I only ever take on students who are willing to change, so the third and final step in my investigation process is to understand precisely how open they are to trying new things and getting out of their comfort zone.
That’s why, if the initial Skype chat has been successful, I then move into the final stage of the investigation, and that’s investigating the child’s willingness to make helpful changes to their emotional self-care and study routines.
The questions I ask a student in my Willingness Questionnaire cover the following issues:
How far are you willing to change your mindset?
How far are you willing to improve your study skills and habits?
How far are you willing to develop your emotional self-care skills and habits?
How far are you willing to improve your self-care routines (developing healthier morning, snacking, consuming, sleeping, and/or evening routines)?
What types of new tools and strategies are you willing to try in order to achieve this lifestyle change?
In order to give the student time to get in touch with their true feelings, I ask them to complete this step online via a Willingness Questionnaire I’ve specifically designed to help me understand how far we can go with each child. This is the final piece of information I need in order to start designing a personalized educational program for each child.
Would you like to tell me about your particular situation in private, to see if I can help?
Are there any questions you’d like to asked about my mentoring programs, before you decide if you’d like to reach out to book a time to talk?
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below.
Eleni Vardaki graduated from the Anglo-American School of Moscow with the IB Diploma, and is also an experience IBDP teacher. She’s taught over 3000 secondary school students and over 300 IB Diploma students in the last 10 years. She’s on a mission to help bridge the gap between mainstream education systems and 21st century well-being skills. For youth mentoring, school bookings and free well-being training resources, go to: www.elenivardaki.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.