Every now and then, and hopefully not very often, the eleven plus child may feel inclined to throw a wobbler. Sensible and down to earth parents will watch, with interest - and a little concern - their child become more and more agitated. As the one sided tension builds, the concerned parents will feel that they are standing on the side of a cliff. The word `acrophobia’ springs to mind. “Oh dear, we are on the slippery slope,” could also enter the conscious. Of course the concept of `mixed metaphors’ can not apply when parents are aware that a `slight discussion’ is imminent.
To pre-empt a strike parents need to employ all their skills in negotiation. It is no good taking up a too rigid stance. There has to be some flexibility on both sides. Forward thinking parents will immediately bring into action the `Eleven Plus Parent Mantra’:
It is important that parents do not feel they have to react to a situation. They have to be ready. After all the signs must be there that a build up towards a problem is looming.
Collect the evidence. If the discussion is about a family matter – listen carefully. If the potential dispute is eleven plus related, look for clues as to what could be bringing the matter to a head.
Hear and assimilate suggestions from `the candidate’. Offer your own thoughts – after all negotiation does not need to be one sided.
As the discussion draws to an end, try to strike a bargain. Give a little bit here and a little bit there. Ask in return for a little bit here and a little bit there. Be prepared to volunteer a little bit more than was offered in the opening salvo.
If possible allow a little time for reflection. Ask your child, “What was all that about?”
“Mum, Dad, you know I like to take a hard line in negotiations. I tell you what. For once I will not use MSN to communicate. I will write a real letter, in my own hand, and post it to you. If the letter arrives before the weekend I will complete the paper. If, however, circumstances beyond my control prevent the delivery of my letter then I expect you to accede to my demands.”
“But dear, there is a postal strike on. How can your letter be delivered?”
“Too bad. You should have made alternative arrangements. Not even arbitration by an outside body will help. I am not going to complete the paper again. I have already done it once. So there!”
(No parent will take exception to this final remark. After all children also have to have the last word, sometimes!)