Thursday 6 March 2014

Teenagers stress at school 'options' decisions

This time of year is typically the year 9 'options' evenings here in the UK. 

Doubling the pleasure with my year 9 twins, we are dealing with a myriad of emotions from them right now.  Testing your parenting skills at this time holds a stress all of its own if you decide to let it.  

While the schools do what they think is right for their statistics and their figures,  that often means they are not doing the right thing for your teenager.  Filling their already full minds with quotes like,
"If you don't get the right GSCE grades you will make nothing of your life."
"Without these grades you won't get into University or college."
"You must work harder."
"Spend lots of time thinking about making the right decision, once you have made it, you can't go back."

Sheeesh.... give them a break please!

Year 9 can tend to be a bit of a 'middle' or muddle year I call it.  Often the teaching staff use the excuse that there are lots of hormones raging around this year.  Also,  in years 7 and 8 they needed taking extra care of as they fitted into their new school and years 10 and 11 are exam years so they let them 'coast' in year 9 - allowing them the space to get the changing hormones dealt with.  I disagree.  This is a year they need more love than ever,  more understanding and more encouragement.

Stress?  At 14 years old?  Surely that can't be right?

Important as these decisions are,  they shouldn't be coupled with the kind of pressure they are currently getting.  Rightly or wrongly,  this is what I have told my teenage twins:

1.  There are famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson who didn't quite fit in with the school 'typical' student.  Look how well he did.

2. Putting your mind to it,  you can achieve anything in life,  with or without qualifications.

3.  There are many college courses or apprenticeship schemes that will take you onto the next stage of your learning with or without GSCE grades.

4.  Chose the subjects you really enjoy.  These are the ones that will make you happy which is ultimately what life is about.  Without happiness you are likely to achieve nothing.

5.  Don't stress over this decision.  You can change career path later in life.  Just as I have done and many others too.

Now for me at this age,  I felt the pressure too.  I didn't know what I wanted to do.  How could I?  I knew nothing about the working world... I had watched my parents work hard in factory jobs trying to earn a living,  just enough to cover the bills.

Until one day, my Aunt June gave me a whole new concept to consider,
"You need to find a job that you really enjoy."

I was left thinking, 'You can enjoy work? Really?'
From that day to this I have always loved work and decided to do things that make me happy and the rest does follow.

Work hard at what you love and take action to get there! Good luck year 9's


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