Tuesday 18 June 2019

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Dear David Coleman: My five-year-old blocks his ears and talks loudly if there is anything 'emotional' on TV. Why is he doing this? 

Q When my five-year-old is watching something "emotional" on TV or in a film, he starts talking gibberish really loudly at the top of his voice, as if to block out what's going on onscreen. Sometimes he even puts his fingers over his ears and won't look at the TV. What's going on here? Is he trying to block out emotional turmoil? It's funny to watch him, but curious too.

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Rows: it can be difficult for children when parents are divorced or separated

Dear David Coleman: My son is caught in the middle of our separation 

Q I am separated over six years. For a number of years my youngest, a boy aged seven, has been asking for increased time at my house. I've asked his mum for a trial of say one more night a fortnight (its currently three nights every two weeks) - but it's a blanket "no". Over the years I've tried mediation to try to find agreement on different things, but their mum cancels sessions, or walks out, and generally discards any progress or agreements reached. Because my son keeps asking her can he stay with me, his mum will often text me last minute to take him, when I often have...

Witnessing a burial can help children to understand the process of death in our culture

Dear David Coleman: Should I bring my son to his grandad's funeral? 

Q I have a beautiful eight-year-old boy. He is very sensitive, you'd almost say soft, but I love that about him. He is our only child. My husband's father passed away in England and the funeral will be in a couple of weeks. I really don't know whether to bring my son to the funeral. He still talks about my father, who died when he was just four, and occasionally gets upset (as he didn't have any grandparents left in Ireland). I just feel the funeral might be too overwhelming and upsetting for him. What do you think - should we bring him or not?

Easily accessible: as parents, we cannot adopt a ‘head in the sand’ approach to porn. Stock Image

Too much, too young: Why we need to talk to our sons about porn 

Teenage boys watch pornography. Estimates, based on the research evidence that I have tracked, suggest that about half of all pre-teens and teenagers between the ages of 11 and 16 watch pornography. About 3 in 10 boys age 11 and 12 watch pornography and by the age of 18, the figure jumps to about 9 in 10 boys that have watched, or do watch, pornography. The average age at which boys are first exposed to pornography is estimated to be 11 years, but there is research evidence that boys as young as eight years old view pornography.

Do I need to take further action? Stock photo

Dear David Coleman: My son has always been happy but last week after school he was very upset and didn't know why 

Q I am very worried about my 10-year-old son. His dad lives abroad and has not seen him in six years. Until now, my son has been a happy boy. Lately though, he has been having a rough patch. Last week, after school he was very upset and did not know why. He was sobbing on and off. I have checked with school and everything seems fine there. The level of his distress and the fact...

David Coleman

David Coleman: 'I think we need to accept that teenage use and abuse of alcohol is often facilitated by parents' 

I read recent reports about the “The Lancet” article that looked at adolescent health worldwide. Among other findings, that research identified that Ireland ranks near the top for adolescent binge drinking (one of the health risk factors that they were tracking). While this finding didn’t surprise me, it did frustrate me. We seem to have given up, or given in, on the issue of teenagers...

Some practical skills of how to calm herself should help your daughter to deal with her anxiety

Dear David Coleman: 'Our daughter gets anxious in new situations and we're worried it will only worsen' 

Question: My nine-year-old daughter becomes very anxious in new situations. Her reactions can range from being very difficult and defiant towards us, to being very upset and in complete fear of the situation she is facing. She has a small group of friends from her class in school but finds it difficult to make new friends outside of that. We are worried that her anxiety will only worsen as she...

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Dear David Coleman: My twin boys have started calling each other by different names to the ones we gave them. Why is that? 

Q My twin boys will be three in March. For the last 12 months or so, they have been calling each other by different names to the ones we gave them! Both still answer to their actual names, but refer to each other with their created names. It's quite entertaining as you can imagine, and they don't seem to be doing it for attention. Have you any idea why they are doing this?

The issue is with the other girl and the only solution is for adults to intervene

Dear David Coleman: My daughter gets left out in school. One of the girls can be quite nasty. What can we do? 

Q My eight-year-old daughter is having a very difficult time at school. She's caught in a three-way friendship where more often than not she is the outsider. One of the girls can be quite nasty to her. She whispers about not liking my daughter, she doesn't let her play, she ignores her if she asks to play and runs away. This issue is ongoing for over two years now. The school (small and rural)...

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Dear David Coleman: 'My five-year old daughter is suddenly very anxious and crying a lot. How can we help her?' 

My five-year old daughter started school last September. She is a very sociable, friendly, caring and kind child. Recently she has started going to the toilet a lot. She also worries about getting bugs or germs on her, or worries about getting sick or ill. She seems much more sensitive and is crying a lot. She resists doing homework and it ends in tears; she says she isn’t good at things even...

David Coleman

David Coleman: 'Why you need to be conscious of your own growth and development as a parent alongside your children' 

As parents, we focus closely on our children's growth and development. Especially in their early years, we can see rapid change and we are very conscious of things like the development of their speech, their physical growth, when they learn to walk and so on. In the primary school years we may notice their skills development in sports or their greater academic ability. By the time they...

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Dear David Coleman: How can I help my seven-year-old daughter, who doesn't even realise she is doing it, to stop masturbating in school? 

Question: I have a seven-year-old daughter who masturbates often. She has almost completely stopped at home (she usually does it in her car seat) but it is now a big issue at school. Her teacher has told me she does it everyday, as soon as she gets onto her seat. We have talked to our daughter and she doesn't even know she's doing it most times and cannot stop. Have you any advice?

Dear David Coleman: 'My daughter is struggling to make friends in school - says her classmates don't want to play with her' 

Question: My five-year-old daughter is in a large primary school with three Junior Infants classes. Her best friend from pre-school is in a different class and no longer plays with her. My daughter says her own classmates are all in their own little groups and don't want to play with her. She has no problem with friends outside of school. How can I help her make friends in school?

Offering your presence at night might be an okay short-term strategy but you need to wean him off

Dear David Coleman: Our son won't sleep alone. Any ideas? 

Question: In the last few months my 12-year- old son has developed anxiety trying to go to sleep. He says that he gets worried that we will all be asleep and he will be left the only one awake on his own and that he can feel the worry in his stomach. He sleeps fine if me or my husband sleep with him (which we do to make sure we all get a night's sleep). In general he would be a bit of a worrier and likes to have routine in the mornings and the evenings. Any advice?

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Dear David Coleman: My six-year-old son is stressed about school, but I don't know how to talk to his teacher about dealing with the situation 

Question: My six-year-old son is wetting the bed and having out-of-character tantrums - hitting, shouting, banging doors - since starting first class. His teacher complained to me about his focus in class and his slow writing speed. My son feels singled out and it's really affecting him. I don't feel equipped to deal with his teacher and wonder how best we can handle the situation?

Learning meditation and getting into the habit of just going to bed when you are ready to sleep is vital

Dear David Coleman: My teenage son has difficulty sleeping. Any tips? 

Question: My son is 17 and has just started fifth year. For the past year, he has had difficulty sleeping. It's either taking him ages to go to sleep or he wakes several times during the night. There seems to be nothing stressing him that would stand out to me. He turns off his phone/electronics by 10pm, but most evenings he's so tired coming in from school he goes up to bed straight away after dinner. I'm afraid it's gone on so long it won't be easy to reverse. Do you think this is the case or are there other things I can try?

Children like having parents nearby at bedtime

What I'm Really Thinking ...about bedtime 

I hate bedtime. I'm only six so I'm expected to go to bed at 7.30 every night. That isn't the problem. I don't mind the time. I just hate being in bed on my own. I say this to Mam and Dad every night, and every night they ignore me. But I try to make sure they can't ignore me. This is how it goes… Mam sends me off to get into my pyjamas and brush my teeth, which I do plan to do, but then I could get distracted by stuff in my room. D'you know what I mean?

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Dear David Coleman: My daughter has been isolated at school since January and now it is continuing again. She is dreadfully upset. 

Question: My 11-year-old daughter was a happy, bubbly child, until January of this year. She and her classmates all changed a lot in their attitudes and her 'friends' were isolating her at school on a daily basis. Since she started back after the summer she has cried at night saying she is lonely and has no friends. The school is aware of the problem and are supportive but she's still upset!

David Coleman

David Coleman: 'I thought I was coping well with the demands of working and the demands of parenting. Now I'm not so sure' 

I have been having a very different summer this year. Back in the spring, I made the decision to suspend my therapy practice for a while, and run adventure therapy camps instead. This break from my core working life has given me some interesting insights into my previous work-life balance. While I may have thought I was coping okay with the demands of parenting and the demands of...