The need for connectedness is the human drive to feel significant, accepted, and valued. As they develop a sense of connection to a group, young people learn to value their own and others’ thoughts and feelings. A well-developed sense of connectedness can also give a young person the confidence to build meaningful relationships with others, increasing his ability to thrive in new situations. Feeling connected to one or more groups also expands a youth’s support network, leaving him better prepared to take on challenges and adversities.
Your mentee may have already found positive and negative ways to fulfill her need for connectedness.
Youth who have experienced trauma or other significant challenges may struggle to find positive ways to fulfill their need to connect. Some youth seek to meet the need to connect with others through attention-seeking behaviors such as acting clingy, needy, or overly sexual. Others avoid opportunities to connect by withdrawing or isolating themselves. Remember that your mentee has used these behaviors as coping mechanisms for many years, and she may need support to learn to trust others, respect herself, and develop healthy relationships.
Consider these suggestions to help your mentee fulfill his need for connectedness.
The following is a list of strategies to help your mentee meet his need to connect with others by engaging in positive relationships and groups.
- Create a safe, nonjudgmental relationship with your mentee. Let your mentee know that you accept him as he is, and that the difficulties he faces don’t define who he is as a person.
- Be patient and dependable. Show your mentee that you are willing to work to earn her trust by making and keeping promises and plans.
- Set boundaries and hold your mentee accountable. Youth who crave a sense of connectedness may attempt to spend an unreasonable amount of time with a mentor. Communicate your expectations and limits to your mentee, and bring it to his attention if he violates an established boundary.
- With your mentee, identify and explore positive and safe ways in the community for her to engage with peers and adults in meaningful ways. Encourage your mentee to become involved in school activities.