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Module 3: Characteristics of Effective Mentors

Parent mentors serve as role models. They guide, teach, coach, provide encouragement and partner with their parent mentees. They understand parent mentees as they have gone through similar experiences. Parent mentors are able to help with:

  • Decreasing the sense of isolation
    • Show parents they are not alone
    • Show parents that support and resources are available
  • Assisting parents in difficult times
  • Assisting parents to become confident and competent in parenting a child with special needs
  • Increasing knowledge of resources and services available
  • Enhancing the quality of life for family and child

Peer support is a critical component of a parent’s overall support system, supplementing the support of family members and professionals such as doctors, therapists and educators.

The role of the support parent is unique, in that only another parent of a child with a disability can appreciate both the challenges and joys inherent in such a relationship.

Please watch the following video: Parent Mentor Qualities

What are the characteristics of an effective mentor?

Effective parent mentors are:

  • Good listeners
  • Flexible
  • Non-judgmental
  • Patient
  • Resourceful
  • Respectful
  • Honest
  • Empathetic
  • Encouraging
  • Good communicators

Basic Principles for Parent Mentors

  • Assure confidentiality
  • Validate need for connection to others who have had similar experiences
  • Reinforce that reaching out is an important step in supporting/advocating for their child
  • Reaffirm the power of listening
  • Focus on their reality, not yours
  • Start the conversation where the parent is today
  • Acknowledge positive experience as well as challenges
  • Respect family culture

Please watch the following video: Characteristics of an Effective Mentor

What is the role of a Parent Mentor?

  • To listen and provide emotional support
  • Furnish information on support groups, conferences, meetings local and national organizations
  • Be a positive role model
  • Support parents to meet challenges
  • Help families build networks
  • Help families build confidence and competence in their parenting abilities
  • Assist families to solve problems, but do not tell families what to do

Continue to Module 4

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