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    parenting skills

    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). They need to come to this realisation themselves, when they decide to turn their phones off themselves because they understand the negative effects of it, they have a good chance of sticking to it.  When they are ‘told’ to turn their phone off for study, this is when the battles begin.  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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    We email, text, book holidays, meet partners, shop and maintain friendships online – never before have our kids and teens needed help connecting face to face.

    There are many positives to social media but unfortunately fewer opportunities to connect face to face, which can leave many kids and teens confused, upset, lonely and isolated on a daily basis.

    Kids learn by watching what is going on around them. They will learn by trial and error, just as we did. The more effort we make in teaching them social skills and the more they see us connecting face to face with our peers they better for them.

    Kids generally start out as being self-centred. It’s important for their development to understand where they fit in the world. Social Media instil a constant need for kids to think about themselves, how they look, what they are doing, how many friends they have etc. At some stage they need to move this awareness to outside of themselves and notice the world and the people around them. To become less self-centred.

    Here are some ways to guide them along;
    Let them speak
    Give them the opportunities to be ‘fully’ listened to. Give them time, let them understand the benefits of someone giving ‘time’ to a family member or friend. Let them know the feeling of having your full and undivided attention, this will teach them the skills of listening to others. They are living in a world where everything is rushed and patience is a becoming a thing of the past. Being in the ‘now’ with you once in a while will show them the importance of opening up and talking about their feelings face to face. It will give them the skills to talk to others.

    Gently help them to open their minds to other opinions
    Encourage their opinions, even if they are different to your own. Try not to interrupt them and jump in with your own opinions. To be able to appreciate another’s point of view is an essential life skill. Show them how to open up to other people and other opinions by helping them to open up to their own.

    Let them see you take a stand.
    It is an important lesson kids realise that they don’t have to connect with everyone or like everyone, but if they are going to pull away, they need to do it respectfully and not for the sake of it or just because that person may be different. Let them see you make a stand with people and situations, explain to them the reasons why you made a stand and how you made your stand.

    Help them to connect with beauty in all its versions.
    When we see or experience beauty in any form, we connect with it – whether its in nature, music, art or people. Beautiful was never meant to mean perfect. Beauty is flawed, different , quirky, interesting, non-conforming, ragged, unique. Help them to set their lens to a diverse definition of ‘beautiful’ by pointing it out when you see it. They are bombarded by a false unreal definition of beauty daily online, let them borrow your lens and learn from your lens – what you see, they will see too.

    Build empathy
    Expand their awareness of other people and what others might be feeling, by encouraging them to look at people from a different point of view. They are living in a very fast paced world where people can be viewed and judged in a matter of seconds, without any thought for the actual person and what they may be feeling and/or what they might be going through at that time. Empathy is a necessary social skill to make and keep friendships and relationships throughout life.
    When they tell you about something that has happened try to encourage a different point of view…’What do you think she was feeling when that happened?’ ‘What do you think would have been a nice thing to happen next?’ ‘How would you feel if that happened you?’ ‘If that was you, what could someone say to help you feel better?’
    The best lessons we will give our kids is through real life situations.

    They are important, but so is everyone else.
    We want to build our kids self-confidence and let them know how amazing they are and how important they are to us, but without letting them believe they are ‘more’ important, more deserving or more entitled that anyone else. Arrogance is the enemy of connection. Nurture their open, warm hearts and their capacity to connect and be seen, by encouraging them to see the strengths and the goodness in others as well as themselves.
    Being able to connect with others easily is not always a given but these skills can always be learned. It does take deliberate teaching and we, as parents, grandparents, carers, teachers, are in a powerful position to do that. Relationships are such an important part of life and being able to initiate and maintain healthy ones is a vital life skill. All kids will learn most from the adults around them. We have the privileged and vital role of guiding and nurturing them alone the way.

    “The single biggest problem in COMMUNICATION is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

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    How To Get Your Child To Talk To You

    Listen and hold your tongue.

    Kids want to be heard. They want to be understood. If we rush in to give our opinion – they aren’t going to feel heard or understood. Bite your tongue – literally if you have to. This simple and obvious skill took me a long time to master. Silence is uncomfortable, but very necessary.

    What I have learned is that some kids don’t verbalise their feelings quickly. When I nod and show I am listening – they tend to continue to talk. They continue to tell me more.

    Do not give advice – unless it is wanted.

    The number one complaint I hear from kids (my own included!) is that they do not want our advice. Well that’s confusing? Your daughter cries to you about her friend drama or your son talks about the mean kids on the bus. You naturally move in with your words of wisdom. It can be very hard to hold back on this one. Try to listen first, let they get it all out without interruption.

    Sit with their feelings for a bit. Commiserate about how that must have made them feel.  Sentences like, “That must have been so hard” or “That must have made you so angry” will help continue the conversation.  Just hold your tongue!

    When your child is done venting ask them, “What do you think you’ll do about it?” Hear what they have to say. If you have advice at this point, soften it with something like, “there might be another option. You can…” This will help your child feel like you are working with them and not lecturing them.  Try not to jump in with your advice before they are finished talking.  Very often if we listen to them, and let them get it all out, they will end up solving the problem themselves.

    How you word things can be the small change that makes a big difference.

    Do not ask direct questions – instead say something like, “I wonder…” In front of your sentence. For instance:

    Your son tells you he is angry at his best friend and he is never going to talk to him again. Instead of saying:

    “What did he do to you?”

    You might say:

    “Oh, you seem so angry. What happened?”

    Sounds pretty much the same – I know. But, trust me – it makes a difference. Most kids (not all) are more likely to answer the second question. Especially if you stay silent after making the comment.

    Change sentences like:

    “What is good about it?” or “What is bad about it?”


    “What is the best part about it?” or “What is the worst part about it?”

    For some reason – the first sentence can sound judgmental, while the second is acknowledging the feeling and asking for them to tell you more. Just try it out yourself and you will see what works for you.

    Every child is different. Every conversation is different.

    Every child needs someone they can go to when there are troubled, worried or confused about something.  Who will they go to if that person is not you – the internet, their peers?  Is this what you want?

    NOBODY knows your child as well as you do. Ensure the person they go to is YOU!




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    How and when do we know what to do with our lives?

    My daughter showed me this recently, how appropriate it is as we near the end of school for many and the begining of new things to come. Not everyone will know what they want to do with the rest of their lives as soon as they leave school , the most important thing is taking the first step in something you are interested in or passionate about and the doors will open from there. Always stay true to who you are – and follow your dreams, only you can make them come true – take the first step and believe in yourself.
    It took me much longer than most to find what I was supposed to do with my life, but now that I have, I fully understand what it means to love your job – it is never a hardship to go to work, I love every aspect of my job. How lucky am I – it took a lot of self belief and passion but it was worth it. When I am working I feel so complete at at ease with myself. Everyone has something to offer this world – take your time-one step at a time, believe in yourself and work hard – no one can stop you achieving your dreams, but yourself.



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