Who is going to Support and Educate our Younger Generation on how to live in a world run by Social Media, in a safe and confident way?


    I have spent the last 8 years working with over 1500 kids aged between 8 – 18 years of age in the following areas – Positive Self-Esteem, Social Media Awareness, Bullying, Exam Pressures, Friendship Issues, Coping Skills and many more.

    One of the serious concerns I have with social media in our kids lives is the negative effect it has on their self-esteem. Self-esteem will determine every decision our kids make, whether at home, in school or with their peers.  Will they learn to believe in themselves or will they learn to put themselves down?  Will they learn to value themselves?
    Kids are learning to judge themselves by comparing themselves to others online. They are bombarded daily with images of their peers looking ‘perfect’, appearing ‘happy’, and with a busy social life. What they do not see is these same people when they are having a bad day, when they are feeling lonely, upset or angry. Social media allows anyone to show a snippet of their lives, and only the part they want people to see. Anyone trying to live up to these false expectations will find it impossible, and very damaging to their self-esteem. I see far too many 8-12 year olds who find it hard to ‘fit in’, far too many 13-18 year olds that have seriously low self-esteem.  They are constantly comparing themselves to others online and find they always fall short. We need to help them to understand the reality of online worlds, how false they are. This needs to be explained from a very early age before they do damage to their own self-esteem.
    Recent workshops with 17/18 year olds showed me how social media is effecting this age group today. Students are crying out for support on how to find a balance between their real world and their online world. Over 90% said they regret using their phones so much because;
    lack of sleep
    not enough study (phone free)
    poor motivation
    low self-esteem
    not enough time with family and ‘real’ friends
    confusion around sexual relations

    I asked them to write down the names of the top 10 people in their world on the worksheet – we then discussed whether they thought they spent enough time with these people without their phones. This was a real eye opener for them and many admitted they really wanted to see more of these people and turn their phone off, (even if only for 20 minutes). They had not thought about the impact of not spending time with the people who mattered most to them – they just presumed it is the norm to live on their phones.
    Sleep problems are a growing concern with most age groups – whatever age I am working with the majority say they have their phones on in the bedroom at night. (Netflix and Gaming and Chatting) When we spoke about the effects of exhaustion –
    lack of motivation, irritability, sleeping during the day, lack of time spent doing things they enjoyed (sport, art, reading etc) moodiness, relationship issues, communication issues – again they opened their eyes to see that this was something they could very easily control themselves.

    Study – the amount of regret in this particular workshop was very upsetting – regret that they did not turn off their phones while studying, regret that they did not study instead of scrolling though the net at meaningless information. How sad is it that so many of our exam year students will not get the results they are capable of because they did not think about the effects of their phone on their study.

    Relationships – the ongoing pattern is lack of face to face time spent with the important people in their lives. I tried to explain the implications of sitting with a special grandparent, parent, relation or friend with their head in a phone. The special moments missed, the conversations never had, the friendships lost – when I say they are crying out for support in this area I am not saying it lightly.
    Online pornography is a growing industry and one that has to be controlled. The effects of porn on our kids lives is so damaging. In a recent Australian survey with teenagers, it showed the confusion with both male and female teens around sexual relationships. Who is explaining to our youth that porn is an industry that makes a lot of money. It is not the ‘Real World’. How can teens not be confused when they are seeing the use of the body in such disrespectful and disgusting ways. They only need to key in one word to get full on porn on their phones. What education are they receiving to help them to deal with this? Are we explaining the difference between real sexual relations and pornographic sexual relations. We are not. The implications of this is harrowing to say the least. What has happened to romance, first kisses, slow dances – I fully understand the world is changing but surely our kids deserve to understand what a mutual respectful loving relationship means. I am not talking about all kids here but in my working experience this is an area that is coming up more and more with all secondary school kids – 13-18 years of age.

    We have a growing problem with mental health in this Country. The number of young people we are loosing to suicide and mental health issues daily is unacceptable on every level. What are we doing about it? Why do we not have a regular module in every school (starting around 5th class) on self-development – supporting our youth to live in this dangerous online world in a more confident, positive and happier manner. Prevention is key.  I have seen so many kids who presume this is the only way to live because they have grown up with their phone as their 3rd hand. When we stop and talk and educate them – they get it. They want to change, they want to find a balance between their real world and their online world. Do they not deserve to get the support and education they need or will we just continue to presume they understand the implications of this and continue to see this mental health epidemic grow.
    The amount of lonely kids, confused kids, angry kids, depressed kids, anxious kids I see is so sad – was this always the way? No it was not – there is huge change over the past 10 years in our young peoples mindset – it has to be addressed. They are intelligent, creative, loving, caring kids who are battling living in a world they do not understand – how can they understand it if we do not teach them?
    We have to speak up – who cares more about our kids than us – their parents. If we do not speak up for them, who will?








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    Parenting Adolescents – Tips That May Help Your Parenting Experience To Be A More Positive One.

    Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 8 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 on a daily basis.

    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 to have mutual trust at any cost.
    Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to, but yet 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 with a little less ‘reaction’ and a little more understanding, the result may be a more peaceful one. 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 you 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 with 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 they are 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 may cause 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 over 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.

    What are your family values? 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 support, 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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    Is your child/teenager addicted to their phone? Does their phone rule or do they take control of their phone?

    I recently ran a workshop on Self-Development with a group of 6th year students in Co. Laois. I would like to share some of my findings which are very relevant to any parent with kids of any age. This was a mixed group – males and females aged 17/18 years of age.

    Question asked;
    Do you think your phone/gamine effects your study?
    -Yes because once you start using it you never get off it and waste hours
    -Yes sometimes I loose track of time and I am then too tired or its too late to study
    -Yes it is distracting when your friends message you, you feel you have to reply straight away
    -Yes playing too much ultimate geam
    -Yes because you are constantly checking it which effects my concentration

    Up to 95% said their phones effected their study. We spoke at length about how they could change this and what would happen if they did/did not make some changes now. (4 months before Leaving Cert Examination)

    They really were very open to taking on change. They admitted they never really thought about the effects their phone was having on their lives – study, family, past-times, but they will now.

    Question asked;
    Do you think this workshop might encourage you to make any positive changes in your life?
    -yes, to turn off my phone when I am studying
    -yes, to take my phone out of my bedroom at night
    -yes, to find a balance between my real life and my virtual life
    -yes, I feel motivated to study
    -yes, not to rely on my phone so much
    -yes, to set goals for myself and follow them through
    -yes, to try harder at training and switch off my phone

    My point is, in all the workshops I run, the students are so open to change. I really believe they do not think about the negative effects of their phones, as they have grown up believing this is the only way to live (phone constantly in their hands). We spoke about the effect of phones on family life, past-times, fitness, friendships, sleep, values and strengths – our kids need life skills, they need to learn how to control their phones, take control of their lives. We, their parents, can help them to do this from a very early age. We have to set boundaries for them and stick to them. Will there be arguments? yes. Will there be tantrums? yes. But this is part of our parenting job now. We have to support and help our kids to have a balance in their lives, to understand the world offline and to try to take part in it as much as possible.
    I would love to see Self-development modules become part of our curriculum from a very early age as our kids are growing up in a very fast paced, changing technological run world and they do need help and support to live in it in a more positive, healthy way.

    Please contact me should you have any questions relating to the above. Eileen

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    Teach your kids to be brave and courageous.

    Kids and teens will usually step up to expectations or step down to them. If we expect them to try hard, they usually will – if we expect them to give up, they usually will. Be careful how you speak to your kids and teens as they do ‘listen to your words and learn from your actions’ much more than you may realise.

    Explain to them that failure is often a result of trying something brave. Every experience they have, both good and bad, teaches them something new. Failure is essential for learning. Being imperfect is normal, give them space for imperfection – it is a life lesson.  In the world of social media perfection is a very real expectation for kids today but a very unrealistic one.

    There may be a time when they really want to try something new but may be nervous, they may need to build themselves up for a while before taking that first step, and that is ok. The bravery hits in when they take that first step. Be patient with them and help them to prepare for whatever it is they want to try. Show belief in them any time you can. ‘I know you can do this, I have every faith in you that you can do this’, with a bit of effort you can do this, if you don’t try you will never know if you can do this.’

    Everything you do is important to your kids and they do take everything in. Take the time to explain how you dealt with nervousness when you were younger, how you dealt with failure, how you dealt with disappointment, how you felt with rejection and sadness (not all at once of course). Normalising these feelings helps them to express their own feelings. I work with so many kids who hold these emotions internally and this can lead to anxiety, nervousness, lack of confidence and so much more.

    Notice when your child has been brave, has shown courage in any area of their lives. Whether they have picked up a spider to bring it to safety, started a new activity, stood up for someone – anything you notice. Positive reinforcement is a wonderful tool. Kids flourish on deserved praise.

    I once read ‘Too many times creative, change-making, beautifully open minds have been shut down in the name of compliance. There is nothing wrong with questioning – it opens hearts, minds, and mouths. One of the reasons the world is capable of great things, is because young minds who are brave enough to challenge the way things are and to want something better, grow into adults minds who make it happen.” Let your kids question and grow at every opportunity.

    Nurture you child’s bravery, their uniqueness, their inquisitiveness it will be the making of them. Help them to stretch outside their comfort zone at every opportunity. Believe in them at all costs.

    “It takes courage to grow up an become who you really are.”

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    How Much Sugar Is In Your Food and Your Childs Food?

    Our cells need sugar (glucose) to survive, however, consuming too much of it can cause numerous different health problems. Added sugar contains no beneficial nutrients and in excess only contributes to tooth decay, diabetes and obesity.

    How much sugar should be take in per day?

    Age 0-5                    3 teaspoons sugar per day

    Generally this age group is taking in approximately 12 teaspoons per day

    Age 5-8                    5 teaspoons sugar per day

    Generally this age group is taking in approximately 21 teaspoons per day

    9-adults                   6 teaspoons per day

    generally this age group is taking in approximately 24 teaspoons per day


    4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar


    If you want to make changes to your diet and your kids diet, start with little steps.   Little swops at a time will help all of the family become healthier without too much pain!


    List of sugar in food to help you to make that swop


    Cereal  Coco pops         9 spoons sugar                                            

    Frosted flakes                8.9 spoons sugar

    Honey nut                        8.3 spoons sugar

    Honey smacks                14 spoons sugar

    Raisin bran                      7.8 spoons sugar

    Muesli                                3 spoons sugar

    Corn flakes                       1 spoon sugar

    Rice crispies                     2.5 spoons sugar

    Cheerios                             1 spoon sugar


    Fruit juice                          7 teaspoons sugar  

    Can coke/

    7-up/Fanta                        9 teaspoons sugar

    flavored milk                    5.5 teaspoons sugar

    sports drink(500ml)       5 spoons sugar

    fruit smoothie (1glass)   3.5 spoons sugar

    Hot chocolate (1mug)    4.5 spoons sugar

    Orange squash                 2.3 teaspoons sugar

    (per glass)

    Milk (per glass)                0 spoons sugar

    Lucozade sport               .8 spoons sugar

    Tonic water(100g)          1.2 spoons sugar

    Blackcurrant (100g)       2.3 spoons sugar

    Cranberry juice(100g)    2.8 spoons sugar

    Water                                  free of sugar



    Cookies/cakes, desserts

    Chocolate cake                 6 spoons sugar

    (4oz piece)

    scones                                 5.3 spoons sugar

    Madeira cake                      7.3 spoons sugar

    (100g serving)

    sponge cake                        8.6 spoons sugar

    (100g serving)

    Ice cream sauce                 15.9 spoons sugar

    (per 100g serving)

    bread (1slice)                     0 spoon sugar

    Muffin (1 med size)          0 spoon sugar

    Banana cake (4oz )           2 spoons sugar

    Brownie no icing (1oz)   4 spoons sugar

    Danish pastry 1 slice      4 spoons sugar

    Gingersnap biscuit          4 spoons sugar

    Savory biscuit (1)            1.3 spoons sugar

    Oatmeal cookie                2 spoons sugar

    Chocolate digestive         2.5 spoons sugar

    Jaffa biscuit                       3.25 spoons sugar



    Starburst packet              5.5 spoons sugar

    M & M packet                   5.8 spoons sugar

    Snickers bar                      7 spoons sugar

    Mars bar                             8.5 spoons sugar

    Hard boiled sweets

    (3 sweets)                          2 spoons sugar

    twix bar                              9.5 spoons sugar

    snickers bar                      7 spoons sugar                          


    Teaspoons of sugar in common fruits, sauces, jams


    Strawberries (147g)               1.7 spoons sugar

    Fruit canned (half cup)

    In light syrup                            2 spoons sugar

    Peanut butter 100g                 1.4 spoons sugar

    Baked beans (100g)               1.2 spoons sugar

    Peas         (100g)                       .4 spoon sugar

    Sweetcorn-kernels 100g      .9 spoon sugar

    Sugar, jam, jelly -1spoon         1 spoon sugar

    Pineapple (112g)                     2.1 spoons sugar

    Banana    (1 large)                 4 spoons sugar

    Apple (1 large)                        5 spoons sugar

    Tomato Ketchup 100g         5.6 spoons sugar

    Honey 1 tbls                            3 spoons sugar

    Marmalade 100g                   15.7 spoons sugar

    Start today and make that swop – sugar is the fastest growing addiction in the Western world – help yourself and your family to lead a healthier life. 



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