How stressful do your Year 7s find school?

(28 Posts)
sunnydayinmay Mon 22-Feb-16 21:50:37

I ask because I am watching as ds carefully at the moment, and am wondering whether I should speak to the school or let him find his way a bit.

He tells me daily that he finds it stressful, and he is on edge. He visibly relaxes as he steps in the door at home. He is setting himself artificially high targets, way above those the school have set (he wants to be top of the year in his favourite subjects). He is worried about getting a strike because he is late, or his shirt is untucked. He tells me several times a day that he has to be stressed to cope with it.

He is, however, enjoying himself. Has a great bunch of friends, is in a lovely teaching group, flying academically, joining sports teams, keeping up with homework. Great parents' evening, and the teachers clearly "get" him. He lurches from buzzing to stressing.

This is all very normal for him, so nothing new, but at primary I could pop in if he was building up to a wobble. Not sure whether this is normal for secondary, though.

Does this sound normal for a year 7?

BackforGood Mon 22-Feb-16 23:50:10

I don't think "stressing" all the time is 'normal' for dc, no.
However, you say it is normal for him, so presumably you can tell when it is getting 'more than' what is usual for him?

VocationalGoat Tue 23-Feb-16 00:02:19

If you're worried, have a chat with his form tutor. I found year 7 really tough on DS. They're the underdogs, the pipsqueaks and I think it's tough starting out in secondary. DS is now in year/9 and totally has his sea legs on. He's totally comfortable and happy in his own skin. It took a couple of years though.

Sounds like school is a positive place and experience for your DC otherwise. He's doing great. Congratulations! Maybe let him find his way through this wobble but if it lingers or becomes a problem, meet with the form tutor.

ChalkHearts Tue 23-Feb-16 05:55:46

No, this is not normal. Most Y7s aren't stressed.

Sounds to me like it does need tobe managed and therefore you should speak to school. Either his form tutor, or head of year, or the SENCO.

madwomanbackintheattic Tue 23-Feb-16 06:21:55

Not at all. The third one is in y7 now and none of them have ever mentioned being stressed.

ScarlettDarling Tue 23-Feb-16 06:27:28

I'd worry that if he is so stressed in y7, what happens when he does his GCSEs or a levels? I think you need to seek some advice on how to help him to manage his stress before he gets any older.

jeanne16 Tue 23-Feb-16 06:44:34

He sounds like a perfectionist. My DD was like this and she put enormous pressure on herself. I suspect there is not that much you can do about it but keep a very close eye on it as other problems can emerge such as self harming, anorexia etc, in boys as well as girls.

HPFA Tue 23-Feb-16 08:25:23

I would be slightly worried about someone stressing that they have to be "top" since this is something they can't control, however if your DS is determined to do this I'm not entirely sure what you can do, other than monitoring as Jeanne16 suggested.

On the general question of whether Year 7s find it stressful, well of course it is a big change. My own DD did get rather a shock as she'd been a bit of a drifter in primary school and is now in high-achieving comp where she's simply not allowed to daydream in lessons! I think also the switch to self-organising can be hard.

jaguar67 Tue 23-Feb-16 08:55:34

Year 7 is a messy year for many DCs, but mainly for self-organisational reasons and mostly social (shifting friendship groups etc.). What you're outlining isn't normal, no and a fixation on 'being top of the year' isn't just unnecessary and potentially unrealistic, it's indication of a pressure which could manifest itself in very unhealthy ways later on. You're absolutely right to be keeping an eye on this and I would have a quiet word with form tutor. It may well be that a general reinforcement from school about their expectations will be enough to calm him down & put things in perspective. And I know you will be, but do take every opportunity at home to reinforce that YOU don't expect him to be top (or anywhere near) in subjects, simply to do his best etc. - I don't think they can hear that enough.

sunnydayinmay Tue 23-Feb-16 09:31:13

Thanks everyone.

Just to reiterate, we have always tried to teach him that being top is not relevant, and that we want him to enjoy school, and life in general. This is his personality, and he has been like this pretty much since he was born (colicky baby, meltdowns as a toddler because his games didn't work exactly as he planned etc, meltdowns and panic attacks throughout infants).

I asked him if he wants me to ask school to know, and he said yes. He said this morning that, if stress is on a scale of 1-10, then primary school year 6 was a 2, but on a good day, secondary is at least a 6.

He knows that a lot is to do with the new setting, and he has settled in far far better than I thought he would, but we have had wobbles about food, and that does worry me. He is okay, but I think he is only just okay, if you see what I mean.

Form teacher is useless. Think I'll ask the office who best to contact.

jaguar67 Tue 23-Feb-16 09:39:15

Good luck with it all sunnydayinmay, have just messaged you also x

sunnydayinmay Tue 23-Feb-16 09:44:54

I thanks jaguar - can't see the message yet? Does it take time to come through?

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 09:49:34

Hi sunny

My son sounds very similar in many ways. I could have written much of what you wrote above.

He is in Y7 at a highly selective school. He's doing really well and settled in quickly - academically above ours and his expectations. All the boys there are bright, and he does realise that and appreciates that he's not top of the class any more, though his joy yesterday at getting an A* for some work and the only one to get that was palpable. He's organised and doing well in his sports, playing for the teams he would expect to play for and enjoying other stuff like debating and lunchtime run around. So on the face of it all looks good. He has always been a perfectionist though, but I have felt that aspect has been calming down gradually over the last few years.

However just recently he's started with the --I hate school, what is the point in it? What is the point in doing something everyday that you don't like? I hate living.
He feels anxious and has gone quiet and the happy demeanour is now sullen and I just don't know what to do. I've been talking to him, pointing out all the positives, the subjects he does like, the foundations he's putting in place for life etc.

I read up on anxiety and went out and ordered these 2 books which arrive today:

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)

Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People (Gremlin and Thief CBT Workbooks)

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 09:52:24

To add to that he's always been a thinker, a philosopher above his tender age, someone who over thinks everything and so wants to succeed at everything he does. Though does show great empathy for others and has accepted in the last couple of years that he's not always going to be number one at everything, and others are better than him - at his chosen sports for example.

HPFA Tue 23-Feb-16 13:35:37

SAHD - have you any reason to think he may be being bullied? If the change is very sudden and he was happy before this could be a possible explanation?

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 13:40:31

HPFA - that's an interesting point and something I hadn't thought of. I will investigate. However he's not the type to be bullied (I think) - sorry my opinion, what is a 'type' anyway!? He mixes well with all ages, older boys no problem, and would give as good as he gets in most situations (I would expect).

Cookingwine Tue 23-Feb-16 13:48:18

"Just to reiterate, we have always tried to teach him that being top is not relevant, and that we want him to enjoy school, and life in general. This is his personality, and he has been like this pretty much since he was born (colicky baby, meltdowns as a toddler because his games didn't work exactly as he planned etc, meltdowns and panic attacks throughout infants)."

To me this could be a sign of ASD, which manifest mainly as anxiety in my DD. I didn't have a clue about ASD until recently, but she was recently assessed and I have to say it does fit the bill perfectly and explains everything that was puzzling me about her. A word with SENCO maybe?

yomellamoHelly Tue 23-Feb-16 13:52:38

My yr 7 ds can be a bit this way, but it's not this every day (goes in cycles and you can tell when it's coming on) and the school have worked hard at easing him into life and helping where possible. Was more of a problem a few years ago.
I wonder if it would be worth talking with him about what the physical effects on him are of hyping himself up. Whether he gets a "kick" out of the drama and adrenaline rushes when everything works out. Find out what effect this drama has on his behaviour and whether he can achieve that behaviour by acting differently...... (iyswim). Whether you can teach him to recognise that he's going into that zone and needs to adopt a different strategy etc. etc....
(Is difficult and has taken my ds several years to mostly get there.)
My ds gets absolutely exhausted when he goes through a phase of doing this so I'd worry that it's not sustainable and needs dealing with.

yomellamoHelly Tue 23-Feb-16 13:54:12

We also found things like food / drink / variety of activities / outdoor exercise / time to be bored really helped him moderate his stress levels.

sunnydayinmay Tue 23-Feb-16 13:56:15

SAHD, your ds does sound similar. I am also fairly sure there is no bullying, because this is consistent behaviour, and he is very good at telling me about any issues.

His primary school were certain that he wasn't on the spectrum, but that he had "quirks". He certainly has sensory issues, although they are getting much better. He sees things in a black and white way, and likes subjects with a clear answer (maths, science etc). But, he has strong friendship groups, and doesn't show other traits. Believe me, I have thought about this lots over the years.

I have sent a longer message to his form tutor, but it sounds a bit vague tbh. I really just want them to be aware and keep an eye, but I'm nor sure how much they can do that in secondary.

sunnydayinmay Tue 23-Feb-16 14:03:38

He hates any drama, BTW. At school he is hard working, conscientious - the most frequent comment we got at parents' evening was "I wish I had a whole class of xxxs". He know exactly how to play the game at school, which is why it shocks his teachers when he does meltdown (and he hasn't at secondary, because he is keeping it so tight in, which is actually what is worrying me).

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 15:21:32

I looked at the ASD symptoms and there appears to be very little there that I see in him, apart from:

having few close friends, despite attempts to form friendships

He'll interact well with boys of all ages (having older brother helps) but has never been one for many 'proper' friends - gets on with boys of the same age fine, in team environments no problem - but especially when he has respect for their ability. Has had the odd friend that he would spend time with but generally hasn't tolerated the perceived childishness of boys his age. He said to me once (in Year 5 I think) that he had a number of friends at school but he didn't like most of them really, but he realised that he needed them sometimes...

He will show this behaviour: developing a highly specific interest in a particular subject or activity

i.e. if he gets into a subject - say he took up a new sport say archery - he would be an 'expert' at it within days in terms of knowledge, history, who's ranked in the world, etc etc... youtube and google... smile

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 15:23:45

And he grew out of meltdowns (mainly at sporting failures) around age 9-11. He's good at all subjects, I would say more arty than scientific but close run thing.

Will have to raise this bullying idea when he gets home later, thanks again for that thought.

sunnydayinmay Tue 23-Feb-16 15:43:15

Well, take it all back about the form teacher! Lovely and thoughtful response back from him. They are aware of ds's issues. It is all over his transition notes. He is speaking to SEN, to see if they can sort out counseling, and suggested gp as well. So relieved.

SAHDthatsall Tue 23-Feb-16 15:49:53

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