Setting Limits and Saying “no”
Q: “What can I do if my Little frequently wants to spend money or doesn’t want to leave at the end of an activity?”
A: It’s OK to say “no.” It can sometimes be difficult to say “no” to our Little. As a mentor, it is important to feel comfortable setting limits. Children thrive when they know what they can expect and what is expected of them. Some children will test adults in new settings to see how far they can go before they are told “no.” Limit testing is common around issues of time and money. Call your Match Support Specialist to explore ways to feel comfortable setting limits with your Little without feeling guilty.
- When you pick up your Little, let your Little and his/her parent/caregiver know what time you will be back.
- As the end of your time together approaches, give your youth reminders. For example, “we have time to play one more game” or “we need to leave in 15 minutes.”
- Remind the Little that the focus of Big Brothers Big Sisters is friendship, not money.
- If your match is new, it helps to start out by doing fun activities that don’t cost you anything.
- Sit down together with your youth and brainstorm activity ideas you would like to do that don’t require spending money.
- When you are arranging the activity, discuss with your Little and his/her caregiver whether you will be eating together during your activity or if your Little should eat before you pick him/her up.
- If your Little often says he/she is hungry during your activities, plan ahead and bring along a snack.
- Rather than asking your Little “What do you want to do?” provide your Little with a few free or low cost activities to choose from.
- Set a budget for the month and talk with your Little about the options. For example: “We have $20 to spend this month for our four activities. That can be $5 per activity, $10 on two outings and two free ones, or $20 on one outing and three free ones.” ($20 is just an example.)
- Stick to the limit you set. It’s OK to say “no”, but let them down gently.
- Remember, your Match Support Specialist (MSS) is here to problem-solve and assist. Your MSS can also talk with the Little about realistic expectations of the program.
Staying in Touch
Q: I’m having trouble keeping in touch with my Little and family. How can we keep our match going if my Little does not have a phone?
A: If your Little doesn’t have a phone or the phone is often disconnected, it will take some extra effort to keep your match going.
- Please contact your Match Support Specialist right away if you begin to have trouble reaching your Little. We’re here to help with such challenges. Your Match Support Specialist will work with you, your Little and your Little’s caregiver to develop a plan to overcome this barrier.
- Try stopping by your Little’s house, leaving a note or sending a letter.
- Encourage your Little to call you if he or she has access to a phone somewhere other than home.
- Set up your next outing each time you meet. When you drop off your Little, communicate clearly with your Little’s caregiver about the time and date of your next activity.
- Write down your scheduled activities on 2 calendars – one for you & one for your Little.
- Plan to meet regularly on the same day and time each week to limit needed phone contact.
Dealing with a no-show
Q: I went to pick up my Little for a scheduled activity and he wasn’t there. What should I do?
A: It’s okay to feel disappointed or frustrated, but try not to take this situation personally. Miscommunication and scheduling problems are common early in a match, and your Little may not be used to scheduled social activities.
The best thing to do is contact your Match Support Specialist, who can help you work through it with your Little and your Little’s parent. You can reduce the chance of a no-show by using these tips:
- If possible, meet the same day and time each week.
- Set up your next outing each time you meet.
- Be sure to communicate with your Little’s parent about your scheduled activity. This increases the likelihood that your Little will be home and helps ensure that a parent will be home when you pick up and drop off your Little.
- Write down your meeting times on calendars, one for you and one for your Little. Your Match Support Specialist can provide calendars if you need them.
- Call the day before to confirm plans and call again before you leave to pick up your Little.