Sometimes it is a good thing for eleven plus children to want to identify with others around them. The term identification loosely covers the satisfaction an individual derives from the success of other people. I remember reading, many years ago, about the identification involved in a mother duck leading a posse of her little ducklings towards the water. Mum leads and the little one follow! How satisfied must those little ducks have felt as they grew closer to the water and realised that they would soon be swimming!
Parents can identify with their eleven plus children and encourage their child to have success in fields where they are successful. Equally some parents may encourage their children to do well academically in fields where they may have failed. The word identification has many masks and covers many different scenarios!
Children may try to identify with their parents. The children could, for example, try to embrace the rights and powers of the parents. This could manifest itself in the language used in the arguments about the degree and extent of the actual eleven plus work. We know that some children, at some stage or another, have the ability to identify with heroic figures. Sadly, some children find an identity in groups or gangs whereupon their behaviour can alter dramatically. We all hope that as the child matures her or she will identify with the benefits of being able to understand and cope with abstract ideas.
A balance some parents may need to maintain and monitor in the build up to the eleven plus is that the process of identification may go too far. Their child could start to feel not only the pressure of the examination but the pressure of the work needed to be done.
In an ideal situation we would want our eleven plus child to be able to weigh up all the pros and cons of the `identification’. The tools could include the ability to discuss the form of the identification with an adult or mentor. Then the eleven plus child can understand the forces involved and be in a position to be able to understand his or her position. It would be an ideal situation if the child could regard the parents as heroes, feel part of the family gang and understand, in fairly abstract terms, the role and nature of identification. We just want a happy and successful eleven plus candidate!