How To: Mentor Children of Incarcerated Parents in Your Neighborhood

Mentor Children of Incarcerated Parents in Your Neighborhood

1

Identify the child's talents, and discuss the opportunities he has to use them in productive ways. If you notice that the child you're mentoring is excellent with counting money, talk about how the child should consider a career in banking or running a business one day.
2

Allow the child to help you with your needs. For example, if you're having a garage sale to clear the house of unneeded clutter, let the child organize your items into different boxes under your supervision. Or if you need help with dinner, let her help gather the ingredients while you get the utensils out.

3

Get the child involved in various activities. You can bring him to a free arts and crafts class and work on pottery-making together or enroll the child in your library's summer reading program. With the reading program, the child has to read a certain number of books during the summer for a prize. This gives the child you're mentoring a sense of accomplishment.
4

Teach the child important life skills that are not academically related. For example, if you're mentoring a teenager, talk about how important it is to find genuine friends who will tell you the truth when you're wrong rather than acquaintances who will tell you what you want to hear but may not be beneficial to your well-being.

Tips & Warnings

There will be times when the child may not open up to you right away. The child is wondering if you really care about her, so it's best to be patient and show your concern by your actions and with integrity.

Don't belittle the child's parents in front of the child, even if the parents committed a serious crime you don't agree with. They're still the child's parents, and you don't want to appear as though you're trying to take the place of them in the child's life.

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How to Build Self-Confidence in a Child

Self-confidence is the ability to see yourself and your skills realistically and positively. It helps create a child with a healthy self-image and a clear, yet upbeat sense of what he can and cannot do. A child with healthy self confidence, notes Dr. Sears, a well known child development expert, is a child who will have strong mental health throughout life. You can help your child develop healthy self-confidence by specifically and purposefully parenting to build, rather than diminish, your child's sense of self.
Step 1

Play with your child. By taking the time to have fun, you're letting your child know that she is important to you and worthy of your time. Let your child choose the game. This further boosts your child's self-confidence as she learns that she is valuable and her opinion has worth.

Step 2

Stay focused. In this age of email, texting and Facebook, it's easy to be distracted. However, children sense when you're not fully present. When talking with your child, eating a meal together or playing, stay present and in the moment. This helps a child learn to expect this from other people in his life.
Step 3

Value your child's abilities. It's tempting to compare your kids to others but each child matures differently and has her own skills. Don't focus on what other kids are achieving as this can make your child see her achievements as lacking. Appreciate and praise your child's hard work. To develop confidence, kids need to be realistic about what their abilities and praised for their best effort.
Step 4

Don't overpraise with meaningless phrases. Use clear and specific phrasing, such as "I like how hard you worked on that science project." This shows you are proud and paying attention.
Step 5

Set expectations and assign chores. Children learn responsibility from taking part in the running of the house. Chores also help channel kids' energy into productive activity. When your child makes a mistake, take the opportun

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