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Advice please on how to handle 11+ cattiness amongst Y5s

(55 Posts)
NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 00:13:34

I have a Y5 daughter who is at the top of her class, along with one or two others. She will be sitting 11+ exams head to head with one classmate for a very competitive school. The problem is that this child (with whose mother I am friendly) has been apparently got started on the mind games of the following ilk:
"I've been doing past papers every night for the last year" (when the school does not release past papers of any sort)
OR, more recently, broadcasting my daughters' school shortlist to other class-members (in my daughter's opnion to set her up for any prospective falls / "failures" to get in).

I've explained that she should not get drawn in, and that this behaviour must come from a place of insecurity but I am a little irked by the manipulative and unsportsmanlike nature of this behaviour. Do you think I should speak to the mother about asking her child to be more sensitive and aware of others' privacy or do you think it will make things worse? I am just protective of my daughter who is already anxious and though bright, suffering from performance anxiety.

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junebirthdaygirl Fri 04-May-18 01:33:24

Speak to the teacher not the mother. Best keep these things in school. Teacher should be able to nip it in the bud.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 06:44:56

Good idea. The teacher is pretty non-confrontational but will give that a go. Thanks!

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TheFrendo Fri 04-May-18 06:54:31

Perhaps the other girl has been working hard for a year?

Would you be saying she was playing mind games if she said 'I have done very little work"?

In your post you say that your D is going head to head with this girl.

She clearly is not, that implies one wins and one loses. They can both win or they can both fail.

Surely success is about getting a place at the competitive school, not beating the other girl?

Maybe the performance anxiety comes from you.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 07:21:34

Clearly none of us are calm about this, but don't think it's me as:
1) I recommended the school to them, when they'd never heard of it
2) am very open and honest about what our plans were with the mum, hence me passing her the tutor we use's number
3) I keep openly telling my daughter it's not zero sum, there's every possibility that one of several outcomes happens: I. They both don't pass, II. III. Only the girl does IV. Only she does V. They both do. I tell her she can only control her own reactions and performance, not others and any goading.

I've asked her to be as open and team spirited about it as she can, with her while cohort hence, I think, her feeling of the rug being pulled from under her and he sense of disloyalty. She's generally the kid who is asked to look after upset kids and newbies, because she is very heart-on-sleeve.

Also there is what I know about the girl and the context and her general reputation for being ultra competitive and manipulative. My child only joined the school a short while ago and this one may not be hugely impressed with having someone challenge her Alpha status in the academic stakes.

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RedSkyAtNight Fri 04-May-18 08:06:49

TBH I'm slightly struggling to understand why either of those remarks are catty (I realise it might have been in the way they were said

Talking about how much revising you have done (other past papers than the schools' own ones exist!) will happen for every test she ever sits (hint - among your peers, more might not be seen as better).

Talking about what schools you might go to is surely standard among Y5/Y6 DC where this is top of a lot of their minds? how does the other girl even know if you/DD haven't shared this information?

The thing that mostly comes out of your post is that YOU are getting very stressed about it - clearly the result of this test is important to you, which your DD will undoubtedly pick up on.

PlushLush2018 Fri 04-May-18 08:15:45

Try not to rise to the bait, OP. It can be a very stressful time but I would just try to disengage with competitive parents. It's a road to Perdition... At the end of the day it doesn't entirely matter what school your very able child goes to, she will probably achieve as well at a comprehensive as at a grammar, super-selective or otherwise.

Laura0806 Fri 04-May-18 09:15:23

I would avoid talking to the mother and teacher aswell. Just carry on as you have been telling your daughter to ignore the comments. This will go on all through your daughters life and you can't speak to the other mother/ teacher when they are 14/15. At competitive secondaries it happens constantly with test results/ exams-you just have to find strategies to help your daughter rise above it. I think if you went in to complain the teacher would think it was you with the problem as it is such a common thing for girls to do this to each other. I suspect the other girl is feeling very insecure and worried aswell.

TSSDNCOP Fri 04-May-18 09:21:19

You can buy past papers online, so it’s not necessarily untrue the other girls being doing practice papers.

I warn you now it’s likely that this stress will just continue until September when they sit the test. You need to decide if it’s a battle worth picking to see the teacher.

If you don’t live in a Grammar area this must seem like madness. Fact is that if you do it’s a non-stop source of tension throughout Y5.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 10:10:29

I definitely need to calm down, you're totally right hmm. I don't suppose you've been through this? My elder two never encountered this level of one-upmanship. I think my child is feeling powerless and exposed due to the fact that it's not done in a collaborative and mutually vulnerable way "we're all in this together" but rather that this girl is telling other children about my child's choices as if to challenge them and raise the bar of expectation really high so as to mount on the pressure. She's the kind of child that has bully tendencies and is very passive aggressive. For instance, she'll walk in on a disagreement and amplify the dispute and couch her manipulations as scandalised reactions, simpering with whoever can support her and hanging up against anyone that dare challenge her or call her out. It's the blending of cliquey "mean girls" chat with this already high-pressure situation that I'm finding hard to deal with.

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NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 10:12:57

Last message mainly directed at Redsky.

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NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 10:19:46

TSSDNCOP yes most papers. The reason I'm know this is a mind game is that this school has ZERO past papers in circulation - they don't let anyone leave the exam hall with the paper.

But @PlushLush2018 you're right... @Laura0806 I tend to do exactly that in the main: "prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child". But because my daughter is really mature and tall for her age as well, she is often treated more toughly and I just don't want her having a more serious issue with this. I've not spoken to the teacher all year because my daughter generally manages to deal with things pretty well on her own and obviously there have been lots of incidents.

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multivac Fri 04-May-18 10:56:03

You're buying into a competitive system, OP; it really shouldn't surprise you that there is competitiveness. And the way you talk about a 10-year-old girl is pretty grim, imo.

MillicentF Fri 04-May-18 11:00:16

One of the many reasons that selection at 10 is a crap idea.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 11:08:04

@multivac, I can only deduce that the moral superiority means you don't have many dealings with girls? Or maybe yours are still young... I'm going to try and assume your judgy 2 pence worth isn't coming from a trolly place. As a mother of several kids, I have first hand experience that unfortunately, not all kids are kind. The point of an anonymous forum is to allow people to air honestly. I have first hand experience if a kid that lies and never apologised when hurting or offending and who is I cedibly competitive and indulged by her parents. We can deal with that, until it turns into more sinister and pointed behaviour.

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Seeline Fri 04-May-18 11:11:54

Your fault to start with I am afraid - rule one - don't discuss it with anyone. My DCs were at state school. We looked at 11+ for grammar and indies. We only found out who was going down the same route when turning up for the entrance exams. Saves all the nasty comments and competition.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 11:20:47

@Seeline But people are literally asking me to my face and coming for advice and I am a sociable and extroverted person. Do I just lie to their faces? Or simply say I'm not talking about it? I have passed our tutor's name on to at least 10 people. I don't think it's healthy to pretend either... confused.

What did you do when it came up? Did you not engage with these people at all?

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Seeline Fri 04-May-18 11:23:43

Yes - I lied." Ooh your DCs are bright are you doing 11+?" Not sure/haven't decided/lots of options etc.
In our area decent tutors are only recommended once your DC has been through the system - reduces the competition on places for your DC.
Anything I could do to protect my DC I did.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 11:37:53

@Seeline, I wasn't open about any of it with outsiders except the parent of this child who is a friend but her daughter is the one blabbing about so now there is no opportunity to be discreet, this child made sure that we had no more choice in the matter. I was specifically open with this friend because until 6 months ago, our kids were friends, despite the ups and downs in all relationships and I wanted them to not spend the next year with an elephant in the room. More fool me, I suppose. sad Since word is irrevocably out, I can't lie. The tutor number went to my best friend (not competing with her, I am just not) and to friends with younger kids who will need this next year. I also passed it on to the mum of the child I am posting about, as I didn't want it to be a bone of contention. Suppose I'm just naïve.

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PollySuki Fri 04-May-18 11:38:24

Just tell your daughter to ignore the other girl. It's not likely that anything this random girl says is going to effect the outcome of the test for your child and if it does then maybe a competitive school where these shenanigans will always go on isnt the right place.

And I agree with multivac, who I note you are very quick to jump on for disagreeing with you. This is the nature of being part of the competition for selective schools. TBH, OP your posts stink of competitiveness coming from you. Just look at the language you use; head to head, alpha status, the other girl painted as a competitive, manipulative bully whilst yours is all sweetness and light. It's just transparently ridiculous that you are getting yourself in a state about a girl you perceive to be competition for your daughter. Just calm the hell down. It's a school place that's all. Either they get in or they don't.

And yes I do have several children of all ages, including one in a selective school. And as you said yourself, this forum. If for airing an honest opinion.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 11:51:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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RedSkyAtNight Fri 04-May-18 11:54:58

Things you can (sensibly) mention to the teacher that would not be acceptable in school

- the other girl is boasting/showing off
- the other girl is being mean to your DD/putting your daughter down
- the other girl is continually going on about particular subjects after being asked not

Things you cannot sensibly mention
- another child is talking to my DD about schools she has applied to
- another child is talking about what they are doing at home

And yes, I agree with others (and I have an older DD) that your DD also needs to learn some resilience, some good ways to manage some situations, and to understand that if she's going for a selective school then this is likely to continue beyond the next few months!

I would also love to know the other girl's side of the story.

NofGreenGables Fri 04-May-18 12:02:57

Thanks @RedSkyAtNight you are so right. I mean kids do get into spats. I agree on the resilience. Working on it! Or trying to!

Generally they are getting on except for this. I don't think the kid is a bad egg, just that she has more prickles and not being so heart on sleeve, has wilier ways of communicating her anxiety, more laterally, more obliquely. That can throw a more direct approach off. Generally neither she nor I are good with passive aggression but are more confrontational (you may have gathered grin ). Chalking all this up to emotional evolution - an essential part of education.

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PlushLush2018 Fri 04-May-18 12:27:04

I've been through it twice with my DC (once successfully and the other time not). It's an experience I'm glad to not have to go through again. First time it was all a bit of a nightmare as more children applied (not in an 11+ area) from a one form entry year group, so more difficult to avoid related talk. Second time around, the parents and DC were just generally much more discreet about the whole thing which was just as well as DC2 didn't pass for a super-selective school.

I'd just massively downplay its significance and 'big up' one of the non selective alternatives (if possible), so your DD is less fazed by the whole thing.

Good luck, OP.

ShackUp Fri 04-May-18 12:33:29

This is surely one of the problems with the grammar school system? Small children being pitted against each other in a 'winner takes all' competition. Instead of encouraging children to develop empathy, team skills and an appreciation of different talents, we're just entering them into the rat race at 10.

If I were a parent in a grammar school area, I might actually consider moving house to avoid this stuff.

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