Feb-worry: (v) a state of perpetual worrying during February when parents and children eagerly await thick envelopes to be posted through the letterbox offering a place to their dream independent school.
Sadly, only 1 in 8 pupils will receive the coveted ‘thick envelope’ this month, to their first choice school, as The Independent Schools Council, reported a growth of 0.4% in London schools places showing a surge in private school enrolment to the highest since records began in 1974. Competition for coveted spaces has never been more tricky as demand out strips the number of places available.
Rejection is never easy, for adults we know the sting a rejection letter has having been turned down for that dream job, and it can deal a massive blow to one’s general confidence. But for children, rejection can be that much harder, not having developed the emotional capacity to deal with it. So how can you as a parent help them through this time of turmoil?
First, emotions run high when there is a feeling of unfairness. When one has worked hard, to be told it’s not good enough can be very deflating. Therefore the first step is to ground your children’s emotions in an understanding of ‘why’. Explain to them that so long as they tried their best, there was nothing more they could have done. Discuss how life can at times be ‘unfair’ but it’s about learning from ‘mistakes’ and knowing that sometimes things just don’t go our way, despite our best efforts. It helps to mention that they are not alone, and that many other children will be going through the same experience.
Two, make failing safe. Its okay to feel disappointed, and its important to acknowledge those feelings. Allow yourself and your child a moment to feel the sting, but don’t let anger or bitter resentment take hold. Don’t go down the ‘What If’ route. After a cup of tea and a chat, maybe sharing your own experiences of rejection with your child quickly move on to point three; evaluating alternative options.
Primary schools spend months trying to advise parents on the likelihood of your children being able to get into the school of your choice often recommending your child sit for three different places to ensure a spot is offered to at least one.
Each school recommended is different, and while as parents we may have our one favourite, each school is recommended as it will have a unique side to it, which if explored, has been carefully chosen by the school match up to your child’s interests. The trick is to expand horizons and to find the good and exciting parts which exist in all institutions. After all, teachers and schools want the best possible outcome for your children, as you do.
Finally, celebrate the offers you have received, make a committed effort to see the next school as a launch pad onto bigger and better things. At the end of the day, things have a way of working themselves out. Schools are there to help and if an offer does not come through right away rest assured that by making contact with your child’s current school a solution will be found to ensure they are able to take the next steps on their learning journey.
Mental health growing up is as key a thing to keep healthy as the body. So while we feed our children balanced diets, be sure to feed their minds equipping them with tools to build pathways through low patches. We can’t protect them from everything but we can cushion the blows and be present to guide them when times get tough.
Life wouldn’t be exciting if it were all plain sailing!