Child Psychology



    What did we do for fun when we were kids?

    Did we come home from school, spend 1/2 hours on homework and then take to the screen (phone, tablet, laptop)?
    Did we spend hours during our holidays chatting with our friends online, playing games online,
    relying on internet to communicate and entertain ourselves?
    Did we lean much of our behaviour and language from online games and shows?

    Little did we know the hours we spent building tree houses (not necessarily in trees), making up imaginary games with our friends or at times on our own, climbing trees, cycling our, walking half a mile to our friends house, baking cakes with mum (dad!!) or playing house for hours, truly believing those dolls were real babies – all of these activities taught us something.

    The benefits to this type of play;
    we learnt how to use our imagination
    we played how to play with our friends by using our imaginations
    we learnt how to beat our fears and eventually succeed in climbing that tree
    to entertain ourselves without the help of technology
    to be kids, to have fun, to be ourselves, to take chances and to be brave.

    What has happened over the past 15/20 years. Kids need to have freedom to develop
    emotionally and psychologically, they need to play with each other to learn the meaning of winning and losing and taking chances, they need freedom to learn how to be brave and to cope when things might not work out, kids need time without parents, to learn who they really are. We have become so obsessed with safety, work, academia and money and sometimes
    over parenting that many of our kids are losing out. Kids need to be allowed to feel independent (age relative), to stretch their limits and be allowed to fall occasionally but they will always pick themselves up – they are very resilient little people – if they are allowed to be.

    Try to encourage you daughter to climb that tree, to play on that new swing in the playground – without automatically warning her of the dangers. We tend to be more careful with girls, why is that? – some of the strongest, bravest people I know are women. If we want to raise brave
    confident, successful, happy kids, we need to teach them and allow them to be brave, to try new things, to make mistakes and more importantly to teach them how to deal with those mistakes and to learn from them. We must allow them to be themselves even if that may be someone we did not expect (the singer rather than the gaa player, the artist rather than the accountant!). Try to help them to get to know who they really are. Teach them about life without technology and social media. They do need reminding as this is the world they are growing up in – what seems normal to them is not necessarily right. Help them to understand the reality of that online world to be able to balance their online world and their real world. Set age appropriate boundaries in your home, that suit your family, you know your kids better than anyone. But, most importantly, try to ensure that they have ‘time’ to be kids, to play, to explore, to use their imagination, to learn from their mistakes, and to appreciate life.
    Our kids need to be brave and confident to survive this ever changing technologically run world. Try to give them the freedom they need to grow, show them how to enjoy life, to laugh out loud, to beat their fears, to be honest, loyal and trustworthy, show them by example – you will always be your child’s number 1 role model.

    10 Things I Want My Kids To Know –
    1. Be Yourself
    2. Don’t Waste Time Worrying
    3. Appreciate the Little Things
    4. Stand Up For Your Friends & Family
    5. Don’t Whisper About Others
    6. You Are Not Your Emotion
    7. Always Be Willing To Learn
    8. Pick Your Battles
    9. Surround Yourself With Those Who Respect You
    10. Be Brave

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    I recently asked my daughter (Leaving Cert student) to show me her Irish prose/short stories – to say I was horrified was an understatement. The depressing tone was just insane. She has been very frustrated this past year telling me she is tired of learning off ‘stuff’ just to regurgitate it for an exam. This is not just in Irish.

    The world has changed so much over the past 10 years yet our curriculum has not. The recent changes made to the English exam this year are another example of no one caring! My Junior Cert daughter (yes 2 exam students in our house this year) came out of her pre-english exam really not understanding what it was all about. No one could finish the exam as it was not timed out correctly and the questions did not help our kids to open their imaginations and think for themselves.
    My 6th class daughter spends hours each week ‘learning off’ Irish essays (sometimes understanding what she is learning, sometimes not) and the pressure to regurgitate these essays on Fridays is ridiculous. What happened to learning vocabulary and putting together an essay using their minds.
    LEARN OFF AND REGURGITATE is the message I am seeing.
    I see many kids aged between 8-18 years of age, male and female and the common thread for many of them is that they are creative. This creativity can have its setbacks as our curriculum is not open to much creativity. Academia is the ‘in phrase’.

    I ask you…….
    What good is academia to the student who cannot communicate with others?
    What good is academia to the student who cannot speak up for himself?
    What good is academia to the student who is inherently unhappy in that world?
    What good is academia to the student who wonders why she is not fitting in as there is no balance between academia and creativity?

    We have to fight for change. Our kids are growing up with a constant influence in the form of technology.
    Recent workshops I held with a group of 6th year students (mixed school) showed me the need for a balance. Kids are crying out to be supported on how to live in this world happily, confidently and safely.
    Over 90% of these students said their biggest regret over the past 5 years was using their phone too much.
    It effected their studies, their relationships, their sports, their mindset and so much more, and not in a positive way. There are many positives to technology but unfortunately there are also many negatives.

    I am fully aware that schools find it very hard to fit anything else into the curriculum as it is. The good teachers are amazing and need to be reminded of the impact they have on each and every student they teach.
    School is the only place where we can reach all kids – of all backgrounds – with all types of parenting. To ensure our younger generation get the support they need we HAVE to seek change in the curriculum so it does include ‘self-development’, ‘communication skills’, ‘self-esteem building’ and so much more – if only to counteract what they are believing and seeing daily on social media.

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    “I want better education regarding sex for both boys and girls [and] information about pornography, and the way it influences harmful sexual practices.”

    This post comes from an article originally posted on Collective Shout by Melinda Tankard Reist.
    “[I want] better education regarding sex for both boys and girls [and] information about pornography, and the way it influences harmful sexual practices.”
    These are the words of Lucy, aged 15, one of 600 young Australian women and girls who took part in a just-released survey commissioned by Plan Australia and Our Watch. The survey, conducted by Ipsos, gathered responses from the girls and young women aged 15-19 in all states and territories.
    In the survey report, entitled Don’t send me that pic, participants reported that online sexual abuse and harassment were becoming a normal part of their everyday interactions. And while the behavior seemed so common, more than 80% said it was unacceptable for boyfriends to request naked images.
    Sexual bullying and harassment are part of daily life for many girls growing up as a part of this digital generation. Young girls are speaking out more and more about how these practices have links with pornography—because it’s directly affecting them.
    Pornography is molding and conditioning the sexual behaviors and attitudes of boys, and girls are being left without the resources to deal with these porn-saturated boys.
    If there are still any questions about whether porn has an impact on young people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors, perhaps it’s time to listen to young people themselves. Girls and young women describe boys pressuring them to provide acts inspired by the porn they consume routinely. Girls tell of being expected to put up with things they don’t enjoy.
    Some see sex only in terms of performance, where what counts most is the boy enjoying it. I asked a 15-year-old about her first sexual experience. She replied: “I think my body looked OK. He seemed to enjoy it.” Many girls seem cut off from their own sense of pleasure or intimacy. The main marker of a “good” sexual encounter is only if he enjoyed it. Girls and young women are under a lot of pressure to give boys and men what they want, to become a real life embodiment of what the boys have watched in porn, adopting exaggerated roles and behaviors and providing their bodies as mere sex aids. Growing up in today’s porn culture, girls quickly learn that they are service stations for male gratification and pleasure.
    When asked, “How do you know a guy likes you?,” an 8th grade girl replied: “He still wants to talk to you after you [give him oral sex].” A male high school student said to a girl: “If you [give me oral sex] I’ll give you a kiss.” Girls are expected to provide sex acts for tokens of affection, and are coached through it by porn-taught boys. A 15-year-old girl said she didn’t enjoy sex at all, but that getting it out of the way quickly was the only way her boyfriend would stop pressuring her and watch a movie.
    7th grade girls are increasingly seeking help on what to do about requests for naked images. Receiving texts like “send me a picture of your tits” is an almost daily occurrence for many young girls. The girl asks: “How do I say no without hurting his feelings?”
    As the Plan Australia/Our Watch report found, girls are tired of being pressured for images they don’t want to send, but they seem resigned to send them anyways because of how normal the practice has become. Boys then typically use the images as a form of currency, to swap and share with their friends. Often times boys will use the revealing pics to humiliate girls publicly if there is a bad break up.
    7th grade girls are asking questions about bondage and S&M. Many of them have seen 50 Shades of Grey, and wonder if a boy wants to hit me, tie me up and stalk me, does that mean he loves me? Girls are tolerating demeaning and disrespectful behaviors, and thereby internalizing pornography’s messages about their submissive role.
    Girls describe being groped in the school yard, and being routinely sexually harassed at school or on the school bus on the way home. They are saying that boys act like they are entitled to girls’ bodies, like girls are only there to pleasure them. It is partially true what defenders of porn often say, porn does provide sex education—but not in the way they think. It teaches middle school boys that women and girls are there for his pleasure and that they are always up for sex. To them, no just means persuade me.
    Girls describe being ranked at school on their bodies, and are sometimes compared to the bodies of porn stars. They know they can’t compete, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking that they have to. Requests for genital surgery have tripled in a little over a decade among young women aged 15-24. Girls who don’t undergo porn-inspired waxing are often considered ugly, dirty, or gross by boys, as well as by other girls.
    Some girls suffer physical injury from porn-inspired sexual acts, including anal sex. The director of a domestic violence centre on the Gold Coast wrote to Collective Shout about the increase in porn-related injuries to girls aged 14 and up, from acts including torture:
    “In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender. With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are ‘up for it’ 24/7, ascribing to the myth that ‘no means yes and yes means anal,’ oblivious to injuries caused and never ever considering consent. We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent.”
    The Australian Psychological Society estimates that adolescent boys are responsible for around 20% of rapes of adult women and between 30% and 50% of all reported sexual assaults of children. Just last week, Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs argued that online pornography is turning children into copycat sexual predators, acting out on other children what they are seeing in porn.
    A 2012 review of research on “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents” found that adolescent consumption of internet porn was linked to attitudinal changes, including acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as “sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires.” The authors found that “adolescents who are intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed.”
    The proliferation and globalization of hypersexualized imagery and pornographic themes makes healthy sexual exploration almost impossible. Sexual conquest and domination are untempered by the bounds of respect, intimacy and authentic human connection. Young people are not learning about intimacy, friendship and love, but about cruelty and humiliation. As a recent study found:
    “Online mainstream pornography overwhelmingly centered on acts of violence and degradation toward women, the sexual behaviors exemplified in pornography skew away from intimacy and tenderness and typify patriarchal constructions of masculinity and femininity.”
    It is intimacy and tenderness that so many girls and young women say they are looking for. But how will young women find these sensual, slow-burn experiences in men indoctrinated by pornography? Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says of young men: “They don’t know the language of face to face contact … Constant arousal, change, novelty excitement makes them out of sync with slow developing relationships – relationships which build slowly.”
    Most importantly, it’s young people themselves demanding change. Josie, 18, is quoted in the Plan Australia/Our Watch report:
    “We need some sort of crack down on the violent pornography that is currently accessible to boys and men. This violent pornography should be illegal to make or view in Australia as we clearly have a problem with violence and boys are watching a lot of pornography which can be very violent … This is influencing men’s attitude towards women and what they think is acceptable. Violent pornography is infiltrating Australian relationships.”
    Girls like Lucy and Josie deserve our response. It is wrong to leave sexual formation in the hands of the global sex industry. We need to do more to help young people stand up against warped notions of sexuality conveyed in pornography.
    Fight the New Drug is all about pro-love and pro-healthy sexuality. That is why we are anti-porn. Porn is full of ideals and beliefs that are completely opposite of what real relationships, real sex, and real love are like. Healthy relationships are built on equality, honesty, respect, and love. But in porn, it’s the reverse; interactions are based on domination, disrespect, abuse, violence, and detachment. Our generation is the first to deal with the issue of pornography to this intensity and scale. And, as we’ve seen with today’s society, if we don’t take a stand, the problem is only going to get worse and worse. By being informed and understanding porn’s harmful effects, we can make a much needed change to our perceptions about love, sex, and relationships.
    not trying to ban porn

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    Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 6 years, I have put together a few tips that may help your parenting skills. Learning what is going on in the heads of tweens and teens over the past number of years helps me to stay up to date on the many issues and problems they may face.

    I am also the mum of 4 daughters (12yr – 20 yr), there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way but I have learnt what battles to pick, what is most important to them, what may add fuel to the fire during the many disagreements along the way, and how important it is to keep communication open and mutual trust at any cost.

    Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to but part of the family, connected to but independent from their parents. I have learnt many lessons from my own mistakes – after all this is how we all learn!


    Parenting a tween/teen means facing many issues that can either result in all our war or maybe less reaction and more understanding, can result in a peaceful solutinon. Try to remember what was important to you at their age, fitting in, feeling grown up and responsible, thinking you knew it all, believing your parents could not possibly understand what you are going through (they rarely believe we were ever teenagers). Try to pick the battles that really matter – take a breath before you launch in with your words of wisdom. I understand this is not easy but it really does make a huge difference.



    Without trust the relationship between parent and tween/teen is very tricky. Trust is the bond that keeps the relationship strong. I would suggest your trust your own child (regardless of other peoples opinions) until they give you a reason not to. Talk to them about the importance of trust within your family. When tweens/teens believe you do not trust them, they feel they have nothing to break, when they believe you do trust them they are less likely to break that trust. I see this over and over again – setting boundaries (realistic to their age group) and sticking to them helps the child to understand their boundaries. You know your child better than anyone else, if they have never given you a reason not to trust them – why would you question their trust.


    Communication is vital to any relationship – this is the same for the parent-child relationship, try to keep communication open at all costs. When you cannot speak to them, text them, write to them – it does not matter how you communicate to them once you do communicate. They are at a stage when they want to feel independent, capable of making decisions on their own, testing their boundaries – this is all ‘normal’ behaviour for a tween/teen. Their behaviour and the person is not the same thing. Try to separate the behaviour (typical to their age group) and the person. They are going through so many changes, physically, emotionally and psychologically, they are very often on emotional overload. This causes the irrational behaviour, silly decisions – try to separate the two, let a lot of the irrational behaviour go over your head and try to understand what might really be going on;
    did they have a tough day at school
    did they have an argument with a friend
    has their skin broken out (big deal to them)
    are they over tired
    are they stressed from exams
    are they lonely/not fitting in with they peer group
    It is so important that you try to see beyond the behaviour and cut them a bit of slack. Im not saying accept rudeness or lack of respect but the general moodiness, lack of chat – try to ignore.

    Think about what are the values in your family. Explain the need for values and what they mean. This is an area that I work on a lot when working with teenagers – it explains a lot of issues they face when it comes to;
    peer pressure
    family issues
    friendship issues
    Think of your relationship within your home like a tree:
    The roots are the things that hold you together;
    communication – love – trust – responsibility – traditions — whatever is important to your family, the branches are the many changes that will occur during your parenting years but whatever happens if you stick to your values, the roots will remain strong and in tact and will hold you together.

    Parenting is the most important job anyone will ever have and yet the only job that comes without any training – ask for help and supportt, it does make a difference.

    “The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour.
    The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”

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    Those of us lucky enough to have grandmothers and/or grandfathers know how influential they can be in our lives. If you already are or soon to be a grandparent, you most likely appreciate this role, perhaps more than any other you’ve ever had. It’s a well known fact that grandchildren provide a focus for many older adults- grandparents can have a huge impact on their grandkids lives.

    We (the parents) all have some memories of our Grandparents role in our lives but did we ever appreciate it enough at the time?
    For me, my grandmothers provided a huge basis for my self-belief, manners, values and respect. One grandmother, a self-made successful business woman taught me how to believe in myself, how to celebrate my uniqueness and how I shouldn’t try and ‘blend in’. She taught me resilience and how nothing in life comes easy – hard work and self-belief will always win out in the end. In my teenage years I loved spending time with her and often choose a night with her over a night out with friends. Although looking back my friends often ended up in her house, where, we had to admit we had more fun than a night on the town! She had a wonderful young heart and a genuine interest in everybody she met, young or old/rich or poor. She also taught me to never judge a book by its cover – she would say “give everyone a chance or you will loose out on a lot of valuable experiences.” This I found to be very true and has stayed with me to this day. I enjoy people, first and foremost, where they come from, what career they have, their social standing has never held any importance to me whatsoever.
    My other grandmother instilled table manners in me from a very early age ( Im not saying it didn’t drive me nuts at times but…), she taught me the importance of respecting ourselves and others. She taught me the basic understanding of manners in all aspect of life (an art that is dying today). These lessons have taken me a long way, they have given me confidence in so many social situations over the years that I will be forever grateful to her.

    I am writing this article because it saddens me to think that so many kids and teenagers do not have the opportunity to learn from their Grandparents the way our generation did. In a recent workshop I ran, so many teens admitted to staying on their phones while they were visiting their grandparents or just to not having a lot of interest in talking to them, believing they had nothing much to talk about. After the workshop many of them wrote on their evaluation forms that they were going to try talk to their Grandparents and value their time with them, try to get to know them better, and, believe it or not, turn off their phones when they were with them.

    Kids today have a constant voice in their heads that we never had – the ongoing persistent voice of social media, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They need the voice of reason to help them to balance this and who better to give it to them but their ‘grandparents’.
    Sometimes kids will listen to grandparents in a different way to the way they listen to their parents. Grandparents have so much to share with their grandchildren – relationship stories, career stories, friendship stories, boyfriend stories and so much more.
    To the parents – try to ignite a relationship between your parents and your kids from a very early age – a relationship based on fun, chat and trust. Try not to let your kids believe visiting their grandparents is a chore, give them time together without you, let them get to know each other. Do not underestimate the importance of this relationship in your kids lives.
    To the Grandparents – it is never too late to leave your mark. Many grandparents do not realise the importance of the role they have in the grandkids lives. Make the time to sit down and talk to them, take an interest in what they are doing (even if you do not always agree), show them you have lived and you have a lot of interesting things to share with them. Take the opportunity to do the things with them you may regret not doing with your own kids. A grandparent is NOT a parent – try not to lecture them, that’s their parents job! Have fun and watch a very special relationship grow. Whether you teach them how to cook, how to sew, how to keep accounts, how to love nature, how to fish, how to sail, how to kick a ball, how to respect themselves, how to eat with manners, how to believe in themselves – there is a world of knowledge you have to share – please take the time and share it.

    “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”

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    Mobile Phones in Teenagers Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    Teenagers – The Effects of Phones in Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    In 2012 it was estimated that 1/3 of teenagers slept with their phones under their pillow. I wonder what that percentage would be today? It is a growing concern that lack of sleep is one of the biggest issues with young people – especially exam year teens.
    I recently ran a workshop for exam year students and asked them the following question;

    How does lack of sleep effect you?

    As you can imagine there were many different answers but all with a negative effect on the teen.

    Cranky – moody – irritable – lack of motivation – lack of concentration – eating too much or too little – and many more.

    The next question I asked;

    How many of you have your phones with you in your bedroom at night?

    I am rarely shocked (as a mum of 4 myself) but when approximately 75% of students put up their hands – I was visibly shocked.

    We spent the next 45 mins talking about the pros and cons of same. I could visibly see, for some, this was a lightbulb moment. They had never even ‘thought’ about the impact of having their phone with them at night. How this one habit effected so much in their daily lives.

    We, as parents, have to remember, this is a new world for all of us – a world run by technology. Our kids and teens are not getting enough support and advice as to how to live in this every changing world in a safe and happy way.
    If, even a few of the students I spoke to that day realised the importance of NOT having their phones in the bedroom during sleeping hours, I would be very happy.
    This one change in their daily lives can have a huge positive impact. I am well aware of the arguments this may cause in family life, but, unfortunately for us parents – this is our job!

    There is enough stress around exams in this Country, our kids do not need the added effects of exhaustion, moodiness, lack of motivation, irritability etc.

    Please feel free to get in touch should you have any queries regarding any of the above.

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    JumpStartYourConfidence launches:


    (Primary and Secondary Schools)

    There is an inordinate amount of pressure on young people in school and socially today – from exam pressures to self-image concerns to trying to deal with the daily pressures of growing up – when facing the ongoing pressure of Social Media.

    Young people need a chance to connect with themselves and learn about who they are.  They need to be able to help themselves to grow in a positive way, physically and mentally.  To allow themselves to become ‘the best they can be’.


    These workshops aim to give students the tools to achieve this in a positive and interactive environment.

    Please give me a call on 0868112110 or email at should you have any queries on these workshops.

    Please click on link below for more details.


    Student Personal Development

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    Why would my teenager need a mentor?

    Does your teenager – 

    Lack confidence?

    Lack positivity?

    Lack interest in life?

    Feel overwhelmed with pressures of exams?

    Feel confused re friendship issues?

    Have a low self-esteem?

    Lack motivation?

    Have trouble controlling emotions?

    Have trouble dealing with Peer Pressure?

    If you answered YES to any of the above, you may want to find out more about Teenage Mentoring.  Do give me a call or send me an email to get more details.

    “Teenage mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.”


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