Fifty Key Messages – when your child or teenager won’t go to school

Sometimes young people refuse to attend school despite the best wishes of their parents. There are often underlying reasons behind the young person’s decision not to attend school and parents often feel powerless to help their child.

If your child is refusing to attend school and you need support, contact us and an Educational Welfare Officer will get in touch with you.

Can I be taken to court if my child doesn’t attend school?

If you are a parent or guardian of a child aged between 6 and 16 you have a central role to play in ensuring that your child does not miss out on his or her education. Under Irish law you must ensure that your child attends school or otherwise receives an education.

For more information, see: ‘Don’t let your child miss out’

Click here for the PDF Dont let your child miss out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for the PDF Ná bíodh do leanbhsa thíos leis

See also: School Attendance – what every parent needs to know

If you want to explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – talking about anxiety

It is normal for our bodies to prepare us for challenges by giving us an increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, muscle tension, sweats, shakes and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach (this often happens when making a speech or doing an interview), this is anxiety. Anxiety is worry. It is an emotion that we all feel when we are faced with challenges. Anxiety, at times, can be useful as it helps us prepare for and perform tasks. However, when anxiety becomes an illness it is called an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are even more common than depression with roughly 25% of young people aged 12 to 25 experiencing anxiety (Kessler et al 2005). 

Anxiety disorders occur when the anxiety becomes intense, causes distress, lasts a certain amount of time (not just a few days) and affects day to day living. People with anxiety disorders can experience these physical sensations often or can have repeated occurrences, called panic attacks.

There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, to find out more about them go to www.yourmentalhealth.ie and www.reachout.com

Adapted from Foroige’s Mental Health Resource

You might be concerned you’re your teenager has an anxiety disorder, remember there is help out there for you and your family: www.tusla.ie www.hse.ie

If you want to explore more of the Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – tips if you suspect your child is being bullied or is a bully

Tips if you suspect your child is being bullied or is a bully.

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t uncommon, and in some surveys up to 40 per cent of children report experiencing or being involved in bullying at school. Many children who are targeted are already marginalised or struggling. Up to half of those who are bullied suffer in silence and don’t tell their parents or teachers what is going on.

Bullying behaviours can be physical and direct, such as slagging, intimidation and aggression, or more subtle and relational such as exclusion, talking negatively about a child to others, or the silent treatment.

The growth of social media, texting and online communication has provided new ways to harass others, and, given the public nature of these forums, they can be more devastating for children and teenagers.

Bullying is also a complex group phenomenon, which is reinforced by an audience and supported by the silence of bystanders. Many children who engage in it are not aware of its impact on the victim or may have been victims themselves. All cases require a sensitive response.

How can you tell if your child is being bullied? Though some children are reluctant to tell, there are many indicators that your child might be being bullied or that s/he is coping with some other problem: unexplained cuts or bruises, sudden lack of confidence; anxiety about going to school; poor school performance; privacy about online communications.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?

The first thing is to help your child to talk about what is happening. Being specific about your worries can help a reluctant child to open up. You can say, “I notice you have been very unhappy going to school the last few days. Is there anything or anyone bothering you there?”

Listen to your child’s feelings about what has happened and support them emotionally. Remember this is as important as taking action to stop the bullying. Crucially, reassure your child that he or she is not at fault and does not deserve to be targeted.

Be careful about over-reacting to what your child discloses by becoming very upset yourself or by immediately rushing in a rage to the school to demand action. Impulsive actions can make matters worse and can make your child reluctant to talk to you.

Make a plan of action to deal with it, such as meeting the school or contacting the website host. Seek professional support and guidance as necessary.

Depending on your child’s age, talk through with them what actions they can take to protect themselves or to stop the bullying, such as keeping away from their tormentors, being assertive in response to taunts or talking to teachers. Be wary of thinking children can solve the problem themselves. Most children need the support of an adult.

Remember to support the child’s friendship with children who are kind to them. Encourge their involvement in healthy, enjoyable pursuits that provide respite and another source of support to them.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR CHILD IS A BULLY

Take a report that your child might be bullying seriously. Don’t under-react by dismissing the suggestion – “my child would never do such a thing” – nor over-react by being very punitive towards your child. The key is to intervene early to stop the pattern and to help your child to learn better ways to communicate or to fit in with a group.

Present the information directly to your child and listen carefully to their account of what is happening as well as their feelings.

Focus on the alleged behaviour you want to stop and not your child’s “being a bully”. Help him or her to think of the impact of the behaviour on the other child and to imagine how he or she might feel in the same situation. Emphasise the importance of respecting, accepting and including others.

Explore actions your child can take to move forward, such as apologising if appropriate, or communication skills he or she can use to stop the bullying. For example, if it occurs in a group, explore what your child might say or do to stop it, for example by addressing the person who is starting it with, “Come on, don’t be stupid, leave John alone.”

Hold them accountable for their behaviour and warn them of consequences, such as loss of privileges, if they don’t stop.

Monitor the situation carefully and make sure to check with your child how things are going. Work co-operatively with the school or whoever made the report to sort things out.

HOW SCHOOLS CAN HELP

Schools have a particular responsibility to address bullying by having proactive positive-behaviour and anti-bullying policies, with a preventative component such as educating children about the dangers of bullying, and teaching face to face and social media communication skills.

The silence surrounding bullying means schools need to encourage children to report bullying incidents. Some schools are creative, conducting frequent anonymous surveys with pupils about bullying incidents and, most importantly, following these up.

Schools need to act quickly following reports, including skilled interviewing of the alleged bully (see above), school sanctions and skilled classroom interventions.

John Sharry, Irish Times Newspaper, November 3rd 2012

Source: Solution Talk

More information available from Tusla.

If you want to explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – talking to your teenager about a problem

Talking is healing: 

Your older child might be happy to talk to you about things that are bothering them.  However, sometimes they feel unable to talk to their parents.  Encourage them to talk to someone they trust.

Emotional Well-being:

How a young person deals with the ups and downs of everyday life can have an impact on their emotional well- being. Here are some important things for both parents and young people to know and understand:

  • Encourage your young people to talk about how they are feeling.
  • Everyone deals with issues or concerns in a different manner. What seems like a big deal to one teenager may not be to another.
  • A young person should appreciate the importance of ‘time out’ and relaxation to promote positive emotional well-being.
  • Be familiar with local, specialised services.

If you want to explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – do you know who your teenager’s role model is?

Do you know who your teenager admires, who their role model is?

Do they emulate their behaviour in any way, and how do you feel about that person’s behaviour and values?

Teenagers select role models, whether good or bad, to emulate. As they strive to develop a sense of identity and purpose, role models become important in helping a young person identify the behaviours, attitudes and qualities they need to succeed in life.

As celebrities are constantly in the media, they have become role models for many teenagers and young adults, influencing their attitudes and behaviours. Unfortunately many of the role models for today’s teens are size zero superstar singers or movie stars shooting machine guns, with less coverage being given to those who project positive messages.

As role models can have such a huge influence on young people, it is important for parents to keep the lines of communication open with their teenagers, to help them work out if a celebrity or person is a worthy role model. The following can help get the conversation started:

  • Casually talk to your teenager about who their favourite celebrities are and what it is they admire about the person. Find out more about the celebrity; watch an episode of a show they are in with your teen or read up on them,
  • Ask them for their opinion of the actions or lifestyle choices of the celebrities they admire and offer your own opinion on these different celebrities. When discussing their role models with them, it is important to remember that with your help and guidance, young people can still admire the talents and skills of celebrities while also recognising the mistakes or bad choices that person is making in their personal lives,
  • Ask them if they have any other role models, aside from celebrities. Role models don’t have to be famous or popular, they come from all walks of life; family members, teachers, coaches and many others in a community who demonstrate positive qualities and make responsible decisions that your teenager can look up to.

As well as talking to your teenager about who they admire, it’s important to remember that you as their parent are still a powerful role model for them; your behaviours also offer them a road map to follow in life. Young people respect adults who walk their talk, so rather than telling them what to do or what not to do, model the behaviours you want to see in them. ‘Seeing is believing’, what young people see and believe they become!

Clare Crowley Collier, Therapist, Educator & Facilitator for Teenagers and Parents

Source:  Family Matters

If you want to explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – children, teenagers and self harm

It can be a very worrying time for you as a parent when you suspect that your child or teenager is harming themselves.  Self-harm means harming yourself as a way of dealing with emotional distress. Sometimes distressing problems may feel like they will never go away. It can seem that things will never get better. This can be a lonely place to be. Some people use self-harm as a way to try to escape from or deal with pain or stress that they find difficult to tolerate in their lives.

If self-harm is something you use as a way of dealing with emotional pain, there is support available to help you find other ways of coping.

If you have a child who you suspect has self-harmed or you believe they are thinking of self-harming, you can get help from:

  • General Practitioner (GP)

Find a local family doctor (GP) or health centre by visiting the HSE.ie online service finder. If it’s late in the evening, night time or the weekend, contact a G.P. Out of Hours Service.  G.P.s are also listed under ‘General Practitioners’ in the Golden Pages. Find out how a G.P. can offer support for mental health problems.

  • Hospital services

Go to or contact the Emergency Department of your nearest general hospital if you have a child or teenager who has self harmed and needs medical attention. Hospitals are listed on the HSE.ie online service finder. You can also contact the emergency services by calling 999 or 112.

  • HSE Mental health services 

If your child or teenager has been (or is currently) supported by a mental health team, go to the Emergency Department or contact the service you are attending and ask for an appointment as soon as possible.

  • Counselling 

Pieta House offer support and counselling. A G.P. can recommend counselling services in your area. These might include free, low cost or private options.

  • Listening service

Parentline.ie is a resource for parents who are experiencing difficulties, contact them on LoCall 1890 927277 or 01 8733500.

Samaritans is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone struggling to cope. For confidential, non-judgemental support please free call 116 123 in the Republic of Ireland or 08457 90 90 90 in Northern Ireland, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.ie for details of the nearest branch.

To explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – Safety first, let’s talk about sexual health

Sexual Health:

Talk about sexual health with your teenager. Remember sexual health isn’t only about having safe sex, it is also about how your teenager feels about their developing body, their understanding of being attracted to somebody and being intimate and developing and maintaining respectful relationships. It is important that we enable our teenagers to make responsible choices with regards their sexual health.

Here are some important things for young people to know and understand:

  • All young people are different and therefore grow and develop at different times,
  • In relation to any intimate activity all young people need to always negotiate consent. That means both giving and getting consent,
    • The right to say ‘no’. Every person has the right to control what happens to their body. Your child should never feel pressured into doing anything that doesn’t feel right. Talk with your child about recognising what feels comfortable and safe, rather than doing what their friends are doing,
    • What ‘safe sex’ means, and how to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,
    • The laws that apply to sex and sexual touching,
  • How, when and where to get advice on any issue related to sexuality: GP, school/college counsellor, community health services, online sources.

For more information:

I’m worried my 16 year old is having sex

Q. My 16-year-old son has his first serious girlfriend who is the same age. They seem to be “madly in love” and want to spend every waking hour with each other. This is fine, to a degree, and I remember being in love as a teenager myself, but I am worried that it is all a bit too serious. I am particularly worried that they might have sex and I find myself supervising or chaperoning them when they are in the house to the point that it must be annoying. I have had the conversation with him about him being too young to have sex and he has been told about birth control and safe sex. Each time we have a conversation like this he gets embarrassed and fobs me off. My husband thinks I am over reacting, that he is a sensible kid and I should back off a bit. They will both be 17 at the end of the year but even so I am not sure about them having sex at that age. My main worry is that she will become pregnant. Any advice is welcome

A. The prospect of their teenagers becoming sexually active is generally an uncomfortable subject for most parents. Many parents have strong beliefs and values as to when their teenagers are ready to have sex and even parents with more liberal views who accept their teenagers having sex may find it hard to accept that this might be happening under their own roof. As you have discovered, it can also be an embarrassing subject to raise directly with your teenager and, as a result, it is easily avoided or discussed only indirectly or with vague warnings about consequences and dangers. However, I would suggest that it is important for you and your husband to confront the issue head on and to find ways to discuss the issues frankly with your son. Below are some guidelines.

Think through your own values

The first thing to do is to think through your own values and what is at issue for you. It is perfectly reasonable for you not to want your son to start a sexual relationship until he at least reaches the age of consent, especially given the legal implications of this. You are also entitled to share your values with him about sex and relationships and to state a preference that he might wait until he is older or is more secure in the relationship or until he has completed his Leaving Cert, or whatever else is important to you. It is also reasonable that there should be some element of chaperoning and supervision when he is with his girlfriend now and even beyond the age of 17. You should also take into account what his girlfriend’s parents might feel about the situation. They may also not like the idea of their daughter being unsupervised or involved in a sexual relationship at a young age.

Be realistic

However, you also need to be realistic and accept that your son and his girlfriend may choose to have sex despite how you feel about this. Even if you could supervise and chaperone your son all the time, this may not be desirable as it does not teach your son about being responsible and making his own decisions. Also, if you are too “controlling”, this could backfire and it could push him to defy you or to hide things from you and to not tell you when he is seeing his girlfriend. For this reason, as well as stating your values, it is important to make sure that your son understands contraception and is prepared to use it. It is important to warn him about the power of sexual attraction and how many young people can have sex in an unplanned way in the heat of the moment and this is when they are most at risk of pregnancy, and so on. You need to make sure he understands that it’s up to both partners to think about using condoms and contraception.

Having the conversation

Though it can be an awkward conversation, it is important to confront these issues head on and to raise the concerns in a matter-of-fact way. Picking a good time to talk is a crucial first step, for example when you have time alone together such as on a walk or in the car. It can be a good idea to start gently and positively by making positive comments such as “Things seem to be going well with N” or “N seems like a lovely girl” or by asking open questions “How are things going with N?” Encourage him to talk about the relationship and listen carefully to his feelings. Accepting his relationship and what it means to him is important and will reduce his defensiveness.

In raising the issue of sex, a good strategy is to be matter of fact and to ask him what he thinks as well as stating your own views. For example, you could say “As your parent, you should know I think you should wait until you are older before you have sex . . . What do you think?” If he is embarrassed or finds it hard to answer, acknowledge this is a difficult conversation but that as a parent you need to talk to him to ensure he knows the facts and is well prepared. It could be helpful if both you and your husband have these conversations with him at different times so he gets access to both the male and female viewpoint as well as the support of his mother and father.

Trust your son

Bringing up teenagers is a delicate balance of setting rules and guiding them as well as backing off and trusting them to make their own decisions. Expressing a belief in your son that he can make good decisions – “I know you are sensible” – can help him believe in himself. Above all, keep the channels of communication open between you so you can be there to support him along the way. There are some great resources and downloadable booklets on talking to teenagers about sex and sexuality on www.crisispregnancy.ie.

John Sharry, Irish Times, May 2013.

Source:  Solution Talk 

To explore more Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – Safety first, let’s talk about drugs and alcohol

It is important to discuss smoking, alcohol and drug use with your teenager. This does not encourage them to use cigarettes, alcohol and/or drugs. Talk with your adolescent about the consequences of using cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Not talking to them about these issues will not protect them. Have clear rules and guidelines about smoking, alcohol and drugs consumption. As a parent it is important that you are able to recognise the signs associated with alcohol and drug use – HSE Website.

Advice for parents

Q. My son has just gone 16 and has been telling me that his friends have started drinking and he’s been joking that he should be allowed to drink too. He’s also been asking to go to house parties where I’m sure there will be drinking going on. Some of my friends have advised me that I should let him have a drink at home rather than having him do it behind my back. I’m not sure about doing this, and would greatly value your opinion.

A. You are right to be concerned about this issue. Teen binge drinking and all the associated problems have been on the increase in recent years in Ireland. Many surveys have found that teenagers are drinking earlier and more heavily than their counterparts a decade or two ago.

While, of course, media influences and peer pressure are variables in teenage drinking, parents have a crucial role in influencing teenagers positively to delay drinking until they are older and in reducing problematic drinking when they start. Good supervision, role-modelling and effective parent-child communication are all key factors in helping your teen avoid problems with alcohol.

In tackling teenage drinking, parents are often faced with dilemmas such as the ones you describe. Should I allow my teen go to parties where there is drinking? Should I allow my teen to drink at home where I can supervise him?

In considering these questions, it is worth looking at some of the research in relation to problematic drinking. The biggest predictor of later problems with alcohol for young adults is the age they start drinking. The earlier your teen starts to drink, the more likely they are to go on to have problems (and to go on to use other drugs).

Delay as long as possible

As a parent, a very important goal is to try to get your teen to delay starting to drink until as late as possible. Though some teenagers may start to drink earlier, personally I think the legal age of 18 years is the standard to aim for. It is important to sit down with your teenagers and to state your values in this regard. A lot of parents are afraid to raise the subject, but sitting down and telling your teen that you’d prefer that they did not drink until they are older, and explaining your positive reasons for this, sends out a very important signal.

For this reason, I am not sure that supervised drinking at home is a good idea for teenagers as it sends out a mixed message. Of course, teenagers may go behind your back and choose to experiment with drinking, but they are less likely to do this if they know your clear preference in this regard.

Good supervision is also very important. When young teenagers are going to parties you need to check where they will be going, agree when they will be back, make sure they have their phone on, and so on. It is okay to have a rule that they should not be going to parties where drink is freely available unless they can convince you that they can be trusted and will not join in.

Discuss issues

It is also useful to have conversations with your teenager about the dangers of alcohol and drugs and to be proactive in this regard. Some studies have shown that children whose parents openly discuss issues such as drugs/alcohol are less likely to experiment with drugs or have problematic drinking when they are older – it is important that they are getting information from you and not just from the media and their peer group.

These conversations don’t have be formal sit-down affairs. When your teen jokes about being allowed to drink, this can be a time to start a conversation, or you might open a discussion when the topic comes up on the news or even during a soap opera or in a movie. The best approach is to listen to teenagers’ opinion first, before sharing your own values. For example, if a storyline in a soap opera focuses on teen drinking, you can ask your son different questions such as, “What do you think of what is happening?” or “How safe is that teenager?” or “What would you do in the same situation?”

An equally important conversation to have with your son is around dealing with peer pressure. In research on school programmes to prevent early smoking, drinking or drug taking, the most successful approaches were not ones that simply focused on highlighting the dangers of these behaviours but also ones that taught young people how to assert themselves, to resist peer pressure and to say no to their peers in a positive way. For example, it is useful to discuss with your son what would he do if someone offered him drugs. Or what would he say if he felt pressured to do something that he didn’t want to. In the future, you can use these conversations to explore safe drinking with him, for example, asking him how he could ensure he was safe if he went to a party or how would he know a safe level of drinking or which friends could he trust most when he was out? Talking through the issues with your son and helping him think up options and strategies is a good way to help him be safe in the long term.

So, to summarise, the best approach to helping your teenager with alcohol is to delay their starting to drink as late as possible, and when they start, to help them to do this in a safe and social way. Being realistic, the message to give your teenagers is, “Be good, and if you can’t be good be careful.”

In addition, it is important to always supervise your teenagers in line with their age and check in on them to ensure there is regular contact between you. Above all, make sure the lines of communication are always open, and give them the message that no matter what happens they can turn to you for support and guidance.

John Sharry, Irish Times, June 2010.

Source: Solution Talk

To explore more Key Messages from  Parenting24Seven see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – Safety First teenagers and social media

Communication is the key:

Keep the channels of communication open with your teenager at all times. Ultimately you want them to be able to come to you with any issues or concerns that they might have, whether it be in relation to friendships, social media, sexual health or other areas.

Talk to your older children about using social media. The following are some things that you could discuss together:

Help guide them through a do and don’t list

  • Only accept ‘friend requests’ from people they know,
  • Block or ‘unfriend’ people who are not being friendly and respectful,
  • Be careful about the posting comments and uploading photos,
  • Report abuse,
  • Be cautious about identity, because not everyone online is who they say they are,
  • Keep privacy settings up to date on social networking sites,
  • Keep passwords and log-in details private and secret from friends,
  • Remember to log out after using public computers, such as at a library or cafe.

www.internetsafety.ie 

To explore more of the Key Messages from Tusla’s Parenting24Seven see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years/

Fifty Key Messages – a positive parenting style works

Are you a positive parent?

Positive parenting makes a real difference to child development and children’s behaviour is strongly influenced by parenting styles and practices. Research suggests growing up in nurturing, secure family environments, for example, is important as it is associated with positive child wellbeing and the development of pro-social behaviours as well as minimising exposure to harmful problem activity. (Prosocial behaviour is behaviour that is good for us and good for the people or society around us, so examples would be sharing, helping, cooperating, being concerned for the feelings and wellbeing of others)

We all vary in how we parent. It is worth thinking about our own way of parenting.

If we provide a lot of love and nurturing to our children but also put strong boundaries and supervision in place then we are likely to have an Authoritative parenting style. Authoritative parenting has been described as the most positive parenting style. It is described as a democratic approach to parenting, integrating warmth with firm behavioural control. For example, authoritative parents teach children to conform to standards they set through negotiation rather than by punishment. They expect children to achieve these standards in a supportive context that respects both the children’s and parents’ rights. The children of authoritative parents are more likely to be self-controlled, independent, resilient and socially responsible.

This type of Authoritative parent:

  • Enables a child to make his/her own choices
  • Makes clear rules and enforces them
  • Rewards children’s positive behaviour
  • Is involved in their child’s daily life where possible

Much research over recent decades concludes that an authoritative parenting style is related to positive outcomes for children and teenagers. Among the benefits are a more secure sense of identity, higher self-esteem, greater independence, more pro-social behaviour, better outcomes in education and better resistance to peer pressure.

What’s your parenting style?

Positive

(authoritative)

gives lots of love and nurturing and is also strong on boundaries and supervision

This type of parent:

  • Enables a child to make his/her own choices
  • Makes clear rules and enforces them
  • Rewards children’s positive behaviour
  • Is involved in their child’s daily life where possible

Bossy

(Authoritarian)

puts a lot of emphasis on boundaries, rules and supervision but doesn’t show a lot of love or nurturing

This type of parent:

  • Has expectations for a child that are too high
  • Does not enable a child to make his/her own choices
  • Often insults and belittles a child
  • Often ignores good behaviour and excessively punishes a child

Easy Going

(Laissez-Faire)

Shows a lot of love and nurturing but places little emphasis on boundaries or supervision

This type of parent:

  • Lets a child do what he/she wants
  • Does not establish any rules for a child
  • Will give in to a child having tantrums
  • Provides no structure for a child

Distant

(Neglectful/ Rejecting/ Disengaged)

Shows little love or nurturing and does not provide boundaries or supervision

This type of parent:

  • Does not have a close relationship with a child
  • Allows a child to do what they want
  • Shows little interest in a child’s behaviour or aspirations
  • Does not supervise a child/or arrange adequate supervision when needed

Fifty Key Messages – tips for a healthy diet for you and your teenager

Children form their eating habits from a young age, therefore, it is important to guide them in the right direction and give them an understanding of a balanced nutritional diet mixed with an active lifestyle.

There are many different websites and publications that can help you choose the best types of food for your child. But, there are a few things to remember:

  • A healthy balanced diet is important to ensure your child grows and develops to their full potential;
  • Healthy diets balanced with fun activities help strengthen their bones and muscles. It also helps brain development;
  • Make meals a family occasion where you all sit down and have a chat;
  • Try a variety of different food types, you would be surprised what your child likes;
  • Encourage your child to become involved in food preparation, this will support an interest in food as well as providing an opportunity to spend some time with your child;
  • Try and have a mix of vegetables, dairy, fruit and carbohydrates (like potatoes, pasta, etc.);
  • Avoid fast food and food high in sugar and fats;
  • Children should do at least 60 minutes of exercise a day and it doesn’t have to be done all at once;
  • Make exercise fun and join in where you can… it will help you too.
  • Do not force a particular food on a child, this will result in them never eating it and will probably make them ‘go off’ eating other food;
  • Children do not need the same amount of food as adults;
  • Try and limit the amount of treats given, treats should NOT be offered as a reward;
  • Offer water instead of fizzy drinks.

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders, concerns about weight, appearance and poor eating habits are very common in today’s society. Eating disorders are not just about eating too much or too little. Eating disorders affect the mind and the body. It is about food, body shape, body image, exercising, and dieting as well as other life factors. There are a number of eating disorders, of which anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are probably the types most people are familiar with. Young people may go through periods of binge eating or dieting. At times however, concerns about weight, appearance and inappropriate eating habits such as binge eating or dieting can become excessive and begin to affect a person’s health and well-being. This is the stage at which an eating disorder is said to exist.

Many young people experiencing an eating disorder do not seek help on their own. Indeed, many will try to minimise or deny their problem and hide their problem from family and friends. These conditions affect males and females and the impact of these conditions on a young person’s life can be quite serious and at times can even become lifethreatening. If it is identified and treated effectively early however, positive outcomes are more likely. As a parent of a child with a suspected or diagnosed eating disorder seek help and ongoing support. Talk to your local family doctor (GP) or health centre. Find out where they are located by visiting the HSE.ie online service finder. For more information about eating disorders the Bodywhys website is a great resource: www.bodywhys.ie and www.reachout.com.

Adapted from Foroige Mental Health Resource

For more information, please click on the links below:

https://www.safefood.eu/Childhood-Obesity/Welcome.aspx
https://www.safefood.eu/Healthy-Eating/Food,-Diet-and-Health/Life-Stages.aspx
https://www.healthpromotion.ie/health/healthy_eating

Our thanks to the Tusla parenting24seven website for this information. If you want to explore more Key messages to support your parenting check out https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years

Fifty Key Messages – with teenagers relationships are key


Here is a really good insight into the teenage years, from a teenager on the tusla parenting24seven website

A teen shares their story

This is a stage where you are your child is moving towards independence. Your relationship may be more about respecting them as individuals.

While the relationship needs to be as strong as ever, the nature of the relationship is going to change. Teenagers still need reminders about boundaries, safety, trust and respect, but equally parents need to mindful of these as well.

Watch some television together and talk about it afterwards – get to know what programmes your teenager likes and have a discussion about them.

Have some debates about real life issues and be open about their views – they might be quite different to yours!

If you want to explore more of the Key Messages just click https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/12-years