“Mentor” is sometimes used interchangeably with “role model.” But the two are not the same. Yes, mentors should be good role models, but not all role models are mentors. That’s because the qualities of a role model are different from the qualities of a mentor.
Being a role model isn’t about providing direct guidance or support. It’s about providing an example of how to behave. While mentors are often people who are directly in a student’s life, a child doesn’t need to know someone personally for that person to be a role model. They simply have to pay attention to the way they behave.
Examples of role models include athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, and other people in high-profile professions. But teachers, doctors, parents, and similar people who are close to a child’s daily life can also serve as role models. In fact, anyone in a position of authority or prominence can be a role model, even if they don’t consider themselves one. That’s because children innately imitate adults they admire.
So, what makes a good role model? There are a lot of factors but, in general, a positive role model lives a healthy lifestyle, demonstrates respect and self-awareness, and shows commitment to values and goals. People who do all of that can be great role models for children, even if they aren’t a mentor.