14yo stressed out over mocks, argh

(24 Posts)
YeOldeTrout Thu 10-Dec-15 10:27:52

I am foreign from completely different education system (not narrowly based on final exams) so this is bewildering. Older DC shrugged nonchalantly thru GCSE yrs. English DH doesn't remember being stressed.

My 14yo takes it all Way Too Seriously. They are only practice tests, I tell her. Not worth sacrificing mental health over. Just practice to figure out what works for you and what skills to use during the exam. You don't have to do every revision activity suggestion, just whichever ones work for you. 2-4x/week she has a tearful hour+ long breakdown about her workload, convinced that she has to spend hours learning every tiny detail and doing every type of revision. She skips going to Guides because she "has to revise". I know that if she didn't revise at all for the mocks she'd still get B-As, doing very well in regular assessments.

She wasn't so perfectionist b4. I know teenage girls can be drama queens. I listen, talk about objective facts, pat her back. Still, wish I could get her to Just Chill Out.

Ideas?

bojorojo Thu 10-Dec-15 12:43:43

Speak to the school. This is not normal behaviour at 14 and she is very stressed if she is crying and giving up activities. The school needs to be aware of her feelings and their pastoral team/teachers can try and calm her by explaining their expectations and perhaps helping her draw up a reasonable timetable for revision.

I hate to be a bringer of doom, but I would be very concerned for the future. Obviously GCSEs are more pressure than mocks at 14 years old. Mocks for what, anyway? GCSEs are taken in Y11 not Y9! Get the school to explain that these exams are just progress checks -nothing more, nothing less. Get them to explain revision strategies donot have to be followed to the letter. In fact, try and talk to the school about helping her decide which strategy is best for her and how long revision should take. Draw up an agreed timetable and stick to it. Do not allow her to give up hobbies.

My DD did 12 GCSEs and kept up a huge array of hobbies (admittedly at boarding school). Top results too. You are right to want her to have a work/hobby balance but I would seek help from the school in this. Good luck.

YeOldeTrout Thu 10-Dec-15 13:21:59

ta. I have already spoken to school. sad

YeOldeTrout Thu 10-Dec-15 18:46:23

.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bunbaker Thu 10-Dec-15 22:23:24

"Mocks for what, anyway? GCSEs are taken in Y11 not Y9!"

DD did 2 GCSEs at the end of year 10. She has a July birthday so she was only 14 when she sat them.

IguanaTail Thu 10-Dec-15 22:31:59

This is not normal behaviour at 14

Well actually it is becoming far more prevalent among girls especially. And I would say in some schools (especially high achieving girls' schools) there can be a "competitive stressing" vibe that is quite contagious.

It's true that there are some young people who are more pre-disposed to anxiety, but I would say in the past 4 or 5 years we have been increasingly concerned by the stress levels of our students. Many are working ridiculously long hours (and often multi tasking well into the night). This is a vicious circle: they are too tired to deal with the stress they feel and so it increases; the actual quality of their revision becomes poorer and poorer and their retention gets worse and worse.

Most of them should really stop working by 7pm. A lot is asked of them physically, enotionally, psychologically and socially st school as well as at home often. They are constantly contactable and so rarely totally switch off. Issues follow them home far more than when we were at school. I'm not exaggerating or scare-mongering when I say I truly believe we are on the brink of a serious mental health issue with our 13-18 year olds.

goldglittershitter Thu 10-Dec-15 22:36:35

I am in a similar position, u have my sympathies, my DD is incredibly anxious n not coping at all really. Her life is just all about exams n she cannot think of anything else. School try to help but r out of their depth. Tears r a few times every day n I spend hours upon hours trying to console her, to no avail. sad

I have made her an appt with a counsellor who is going to work on her anxiety management, self esteem n coping mechanisms,maybe look at CBT.

It feels drastic but it's not as drastic as watching her flounder. Would something like this be worth a look?

YeOldeTrout Fri 11-Dec-15 08:25:38

Thanks for replies I had totally given up
Head of History said "Send her to me and I'll show her where she went wrong on her test" which isn't really what I want to hear.

Not really anxious character but overwrought about this and in a vicious cycle, very competitive, yes.

Dunno about CBT.

goldglittershitter Sat 12-Dec-15 14:39:18

It's hard, I never would have described my DD as anxious but this exam pressure is bringing out a whole new side to her sad .

I have just had a meeting with the school. Pastoral Manager agrees there is too much pressure on kids now n is rushed off her feet with the sheer volume of those struggling with it.

Unfortunately she does not control the messages that everybody must succeed at all costs which r given out constantly by the Leadership Team. Ridiculous.

IguanaTail Sat 12-Dec-15 15:06:33

The leadership team is just the messenger. It's the ridiculous ofsted and government guidelines which state that no child should make "good enough" progress. It has to be exceptional.. Everyone has to be above average.

Bunbaker Sat 12-Dec-15 15:21:31

"Unfortunately she does not control the messages that everybody must succeed at all costs which r given out constantly by the Leadership Team. Ridiculous."

I had a similar conversation with DD's learning mentor last week. The message that the school are giving out is that anything less than an A* is not good enough. I have told DD to ignore them and just do her best.

Unfortunately the media also portray that getting a bunch of A*s is the norm as well.

I would love to know what the average grades and mode values are for GCSE results.

goldglittershitter Sat 12-Dec-15 15:39:46

Definitely the government guidelines n media as well as the school Iguana n Bunbaker . I find it very, very sad.

I reassure DD constantly but my lone voice seems to somehow pale against the drumbeat of that of teachers, headteachers, other children etc. It's a work in progress, I WILL get her thru this!

YeOldeTrout Sat 12-Dec-15 20:19:04

Thx..... DD has invested a lot in her identity as a "high achiever". it's a validation thing among her peers & I wish that she could shrug it off a bit. I also have an underachieving hates-school yr11 DS... tbh, I may prefer the underachiever. At least I'm less worried about him just now, he's feckless but not messed up his mental health over a 3 yr period.

Dd has had a good week now (unexpected). Had 3 activities totally not revision.

mummytime Sun 13-Dec-15 07:09:00

I would suggest you talk to a pastoral teacher. If it is a good high achieving school it will be used to girls who give themselves too much pressure.
Also watch out for the signs of stress and do consider taking her to the GP, in no emergencies (pretty much no suicide attempt) it can take a long time to actually see someone.
For yourself, praise effort, not grades. Make sure she eats, drinks, has breaks etc. Also ensure she realises there are routes to success other than academic. If she will listen you could work on revision timetables, and make sure sh takes the breaks.

littledrummergirl Sun 13-Dec-15 11:51:14

Ds1 is yr11 atm so focussing more on his work. He has broached the subject of dropping his sport temporarily which has been vetoed by me immediately-work hard, play hard. They need time out to use up nervous energy and will feel better able to focus on studies in short bursts.
That's what I tell mine anyway.

bojorojo Sun 13-Dec-15 20:27:37

I do agree getting stressed out is on the increase but it is not the "norm". Schools are not encouraged to put children into exams in Y10. My DD is an August birthday so I do understand the concept of a 14 year old taking GCSEs (she foolishly had to take one) but it is not necessary or desirable. It also seems to be a problem that will continue as she sees herself as a "high achiever". Having to work that hard rather says she is not a natural. My DD did 13 extra curricular activities in Y10, albeit at boarding school. She eventually agreed to cut it down to 10 in Y11, after a long negotiating meeting with her HM, because she was House Captain. High achievers can usually multi task. However, do get some help. Why believe all you read in the press about achievement at GCSE?

kscience Tue 15-Dec-15 05:41:07

Bunbaker here is a link to national exam grades for each subject from 1993 onwards
www.bstubbs.co.uk/gcse.htm

Domino777 Tue 15-Dec-15 05:48:36

Talk to the pastoral team and explain it's effecting her mental health.

Sometimes children (particularly girls) can put a huge amount of pressure on themselves to achieve. It's not healthy

YeOldeTrout Tue 15-Dec-15 16:34:57

I've emailed office & asked them to forward msg to DD's form tutor.
Not hopeful it will make a blind bit of difference.
She came home early from her mock today, having had a panic attack. sad

goldglittershitter Tue 15-Dec-15 17:20:13

Aw ur poor DD. Too much pressure on these kids! Hope she is ok. flowers for u both, n chocolate too

mummytime Wed 16-Dec-15 06:50:18

Have you taken her to the GP?
You might be surprised how many other girls at her school are getting medical help at present.

YeOldeTrout Wed 16-Dec-15 13:53:20

If she continues with these stressful episodes then we will have to consider drugs, yes. Will pursue other solutions in meantime, would be better.

bojorojo Wed 16-Dec-15 17:51:59

My younger DD gets panic attacks. She is 20. They do not seem to be triggered by exams though. She had one in a restaurant with us a few weekends ago. The hospital consultant has not been able to get to the bottom of it but her heart has been monitored and in all other aspects she is healthy. These started when she was about 15 at school, but she had a fairly laid back attitude towards exams at that point although she really ramped up her work for A levels. I still find it worrying and I really hope she will "grow out of it" although I have nothing to base this on. When young people are worried about something concerning school I think it is worth talking things over with the school. I am sorry to say that dd's school were useless, but I am sure a decent school would help. No drugs were ever prescribed but she now has mechanisms for calming herself down and breathing in a regulated way. Her heart really pounds but it is not unhealthy, apparently. I still think trying to avoid too many stressful situations is helpful (eg early exams). Not all young people are not all equipped to deal with it and schools should recognise this.

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