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TIPS FOR MENTORS: How to get prepared for the first meeting with a child?


The first meetings of mentors with children are taking place in Mariupol and Sviatohirsk. This is an important stage. It greatly predetermines the success of future cooperation. That is why the psychologists of  "Mentorship" project of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation prepared the list of advices that will help a mentor to get ready for the first meeting with a child.

How to organize yourself for the first meeting?

  • Think about the fact that the child is waiting for you, otherwise he/she wouldn't file an application to participate in the project, because the most important condition is the child's personal willing to communicate with mentor.
  • Be in a good and friendly mood when going to the first meeting with a child.
  • Be yourself, try to behave naturally, don't do anything farfetched, don’t follow any instructions. Children are good at feeling people, and the foster child will definitely feel your willing to become friends and to help.

How to establish contact with the child?

  • Look at the child who came to you. Introduce yourself to the kid, tell how he/she can call you. Be confident, smile. Remember the child's name.
  • Tell him/her about yourself without overloading with excess information.
  • Ask the foster child to tell you about himself/herself.  Carefully and sensitively observe him/her, his/her reaction to your questions.
  • During the first meeting the child shall be in the focus of interaction: let the kid tell about himself/herself everything he/she wants to. Be delicate when asking questions, avoid dangerous topics: parents, his/her family, how the child got to the orphanage, whether the studies go well, alcohol and drugs, availability of sexual experience, health problems, etc.
  • You also shouldn't mention your own problems during the first meeting, leave them behind the threshold of the orphanage.
  • The contact may not be established, if you take a dominant position.

What to talk about?

Try to find and talk about something that you can have in common with the child. For example, similar character traits, common hobbies and interests.

What to bring for the child?

The "Mentorship" project of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation is aimed at development and education of children. That is why we strongly recommend not to make any expensive gifts.  For the first meeting you can bring something useful for a child (like a notebook or a book) or something heartwarming (handmade). For example, one of our mentors was getting ready for her first meeting with 12-year-old girl, she mastered beading technique on her own and gave the girl a bracelet with her name on it - the girl was impressed and interested.

What to wear for the first meeting?

Wear modest clothes, not to provoke a child for manipulation. But if it still happened, and the child is asking for money, kindly speak out the project conditions and rules from administration – not giving money to foster children. And adhere to this in the future. Mind that your attention, involvement and care can give much more to the child.

How to answer the child's questions?

  • You should be very honest with the kid.
  • Most of teenager's questions will be about trust – "can I trust you?" and safety – "won't you cause any harm to me, won't you hurt me?"

Keep in mind! The first meeting shall not be long. In case the situation turns unexpected, you should remain calm, cool and opened.