Q. How can I help my 11-year-old girl survive the ‘drama llamas’ of Year 7 when she moves onto senior school? Jane, Oxon
When children leave the familiarity of prep schools for a senior school, it can be an anxious time. With new routines, a step up in expectations, and the onset of puberty, it’s no wonder many children feel fragile. Especially as they are surrounded by a pool of new friends who are all feeling the same.
Meanwhile, parents can be put on the back foot by the pressures that suddenly come from these new relationships. Psychotherapist Jennie Miller says: ‘This is a time of forging deeper friendships that come about through wanting a little bit more independence from home. As a parent, you may experience a ‘push pull’. One day the child is clingy and acting young, and the next day they are pushing you away and acting like a 16-year-old.’
The role of mum and dad at this time is to uphold parental boundaries. Don’t feel forced into appeasing your child and prepare yourself for emotional blackmail like, ‘But my friends all have an iPhone!’ It is not your job to help your child ‘fit in’.
‘They may fight against your boundaries, but they will actually feel safer knowing that their parent is keeping to the line they are used to.
Being yourself is one of the greatest challenges lying ahead for your child. The best you can do is help them to know it’s okay to not always fit in with the crowd from now.’