It is often quoted that there are three unconscious needs. These were stated years ago by the great psychologists and psychoanalysts Freud, Jung and Adler. The adults associated with today’s eleven plus children may find these needs a little self conscious – but that dos not mean that they are without foundation.
The first is to have a mother.
The second is to please mother and father.
The third is to be like father (This applies to girls as well as to boys – and in some cases more so.)
Mother of course, in eleven plus terms, is the peer group as well as all those at school. The family is also part of the loose term `mother’. A number of eleven plus children, however, are generally so strong and independent that they have the ability to go out and create their own `mother’ figure. The eleven plus experience gives the child the opportunity to be part of a large, shifting and amorphous group. There must, we hope, also be a sense of security. The children must be aware that they are competing against other children for a place in grammar school but they are sharing the same journey. There must also be a feeling of loss if the dream of a grammar school place does not materialise.
The drive to please mother and father must be strong. At times it may seem that the child is doing everything possible to upset mum and dad – but the need to be liked and loved must be powerful. “Do it for me!”
The third great unconscious need – to be like father - may, at first glance, to be a little more superficial. The drive is, however, remarkably strong and powerful. A little illustration may possibly help.
The eleven plus child completes a paper, without help and in a reasonable time. He or she show the paper to father.
One type of father will say: “It that all you did? Why did you not do better?”
A different type will offer: “Well done. There are a few questions for us to go over together. I am remarkably proud of the sustained effort you have made.
Parents will have their view points on each approach. There is no need to condemn the parents who keep asking for more from their children. There is also a time and a place for children who are over indulged.
We must all hope that common factor, in the eleven plus journey, is a powerful desire on the part of the child who is offering the completed eleven plus paper; to be recognised as a serious eleven plus candidate. At some stage or another most eleven plus children will turn to their mother for comfort and support. At other times the children will want to please their mother or father. And there must come a time when the eleven plus child wants to be able to do better than their mother or father.
There may, after all, be something in the psycho babble of one hundred years ago.