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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eleven Plus Stress

It is extraordinary how the wheel turns a full circle in life. We have to think back to the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen who believed that there were four personality types:

Sanguine or happy
Melancholic or sad
Choleric or angry
Phlegmatic or listless

Each personality type was though to be an excess of a particular humour or body fluid:

Black bile
Yellow bile

The humours were related to the four elements:

Fire or blood
Earth or black bile
Air or yellow bile
Water of phlegm

So as your Eleven Plus child approaches the examination you will experience each of the personality types. These days we don’t go much for blood letting to release the `humour’. We tend to use more positive methods.

Encourage your child to mentally rehearse conversations. Suggest to your child that he or she does not use language like: “You always make me do Eleven Plus papers. I am sick of them.”

You will need to explain to your child what language to use:

“Mother, I value my free time and would appreciate it if we could arrange to do the Eleven Plus paper at another time.”

Explain to your child the need to try to avoid apportioning blame. Give your child the language tools to be able to solve a problem without it becoming confrontation.

So as your child drifts from being happy to sad and angry to listless try to make sure that as little bile and confrontation as possible flows around the discussions.

You see in the Hippocratic Oath a doctor has to swear not to divulge anything a patient says to him or her. So if you child occasionally `blows his top’ and comes out with some rather vile and full of bile – then hold it in and don’t repeat the ensuing conversation to anyone. And to try to see if your child can walk away saying:

“Mother, that was a positive experience. Thank you for being so patient. I am sorry I used words like that. We really can work together towards the eleven plus.”

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