The mentee’s age may also affect the nature and course of a mentoring relationship. Early adolescents who are beginning to struggle with identity issues may wish to engage in abstract conversations with their mentors, where children who have a lower level of cognitive sophistication may benefit from more structured activities. Older adolescents may be less interested in establishing emotional ties with mentors, gravitating to peers and vocational skill-building instead. Older adolescents tend to have stronger relationships with their peers than their younger counterparts, and they are less likely to sustain their involvement in structured mentoring programs. Indeed, researchers have found that relationships with older adolescents are characterized by lower levels of closeness, heightened risk for termination during any given month (Grossman and Rhodes, 2002), and shorter duration than those with children or early adolescents. A mentor who is attuned to his or her mentee’s developmental stage, and adjusts to it accordingly can create an optimal stage-environment fit and are better positioned to meet the child’s developmental needs.
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