ATP mentor training/Actively seeking out anti-patterns in the mental development of a child or adolescent

Actively seeking out anti-patterns in the mental development of a child or adolescentEdit

To seek out anti-patterns in the mental development of a child or adolescent requires an understanding for the anti-patterns that can become problems at the current stage of development or at a later stage.


All mentors should have read the Parent Education Course Writer's Guide[1] or equivalent literature. Parenting anti-patterns are anti-patterns in the development of a child and require the attention of the mentor.


Some protégés may require more socializing, others may already exaggerate socializing. An adolescent who spends most of his leisure time in a social group may not learn to be an autodidact and to learn alone and with the self-motivated aim to learn something or may even fail to learn to function without the group's decision making process. A mentor should try to help to motivate an intermediate position that accommodates the protégé and teach the protégé to find the right balance himself.


ToDo: List of important anti-patterns.

Exaggerated use of computer gamesEdit

Exaggerated use of computer games is a popular anti-pattern. Mentors should inquire about use of computer games and read the section about computer games in the Mentoring Handbook.[2]

Exaggerated TV consumptionEdit

Adolescents who watch too much TV may lack other hobbies or goals. A mentor should explain that TV is meant for time that has no better use, not for wasting time that can be used to follow other interests. A mentor should, of course, also discuss the interests of the protégé and available opportunities to follow these interests.

A mentor has to accept and understand the situation of the protégé as it is, especially because the mentor is more a partner of his protégé and less an educator who can decide on educational objectives. That means that as a mentor you may have to accept TV consumption of the protégé as a personal interest that deserves tolerance. If the protégé is particularly interested in a series that could mean you might want to inform yourself about that series; luckily there are written summaries on the internet (see List of television programs by name), so one can read up on an episode instead of watching it but watching the one or other episode may be necessary to get a general understanding. A protégé with more than marginal TV consumption but without particular interests in any series or movies should be seen as exaggerating TV consumption and should not be encouraged to watch TV. Tolerance for TV consumption can promote mutual understanding but can easily be taken too far; a mentor should not significantly encourage TV consumption in any case.

Talking about a TV episode allows the mentor to

  • get an understanding for the protégé's perspective in a context that is relevant for the protégé and where the protégé is unlikely to feel pressured to conform with the views and expectations of an adult or older adolescent.
  • communicate differing perspectives and to invite the protégé to tolerate and to understand these.

The same applies, of course, to books, if the protégé reads any books that are suitable for the purpose. A mentor should make sure that the protégé assigns similar value to reading before following a personal preference for books.

Health risksEdit

Frequent health risks for adolescents include smoking, drinking, substance abuse and unnecessary dangers in traffic. A mentor can inform about dangers but can also try to motivate the protégé to take an interest in the health of others,[3] which can have the psychological effect of increasing awareness for health topics.

Recommended reading is chapter 9 of the CMAD Mentor Trainer's Manual.[4]

Extreme sports and hobbiesEdit

Skiing and driving a motorbike, for instance, are activities that may entail an inappropriate risk of getting injured, even if practiced according to common expectations. A mentor should aim to warn about the risks of dangerous sports and hobbies and to caution the protégé not to take exaggerated risks, which should include the warning that commonly expected or occasionally recommended behavior may already entail inappropriate risks. A more detailed first aid course (a two-day course) can help the protégé to better understand the actual dangers of injuries.

For adolescents between 16 and 18 it appears advisable to participate twice in first aid courses in order to refresh the previously learned knowledge. Adolescents who drive a motorbike should participate in special courses with an emphasis on motorbike accidents.

Exaggerated enjoyment of musicEdit

Music can have a positive influence on the mood and consequently on the motivation of an adolescent. A common anti-pattern is that adolescents may not find an appropriate limit for the enjoyment of music. As an adult one could consider Walkman and iPod as indicators of exaggerated enjoyment of music. Other indicators are music listening during homework or computer work that requires concentration. Even during work that requires concentration some music listening can be helpful to achieve a productive mood but a mentor should encourage the protégé to set limits and to search actively for signs of deteriorating concentration. The interesting realization adolescents may not make without help is that when an adolescent notices decreased concentration then the best point in time to turn off the music has already passed. Consequently a mentor should encourage his protégé to notice effects on concentration and to apply time management when listening to music. Adolescents who do not appear to require the additional motivation should be advised to avoid listening to music while working or to keep music listening during work that requires concentration to a minimum.

Using headphones (but without music) and even earplugs at the same time can be useful, however, because this way one may be able to enjoy a much more undisturbed environment than may otherwise be available.

Bad choice of literatureEdit

Adolescents often select literature with insufficient understanding for its quality; even if the reason for reading a book is merely entertainment the mentor should try to give recommendations that take the perspective of the protégé into account. The protégé should be able to explain criteria for the selection of literature and the mentor may be able to revise these criteria even without searching for more appropriate books himself, which may be very time-consuming if you aren't knowledgeable about the relevant genre. Even if you avoid looking for books yourself as a mentor you should verify what kind of literature your protégé read earlier and what kind of literature the revised criteria have brought about. Not taking notice of the literature list of the protégé should be considered impossible.

Lack of seclusionEdit

Adolescents may require seclusion to do their homework, to do other work that requires concentration or just to read books. Some adolescents may lack sufficient opportunity for seclusion. As a mentor you can try to organize visits to public libraries or reading rooms, homework supervision, learning groups with other pupils or visits to other places that offer more opportunity for seclusion. Mentors can also try to organize a retreat where protégés, possibly from several mentors, can withdraw to for undisturbed learning. Ideally there should be a minimum of supervision so that learning actually takes place and the ambience should be that of a library. A group of mentors can offer or supervise available rooms as a rotating duty.


  1. Parent Education Course Writer's Guide (Wikibooks)
  2. Mentoring Handbook: Game mentoring (Wikibooks)
  3. Health mentoring course
  4. Baylor University's Community Mentoring for Adolescent Development (CMAD) Mentor Trainer's Manual

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