Allen O'Donoghue Motivation Interview Podcasts

Coaching specialist Allen O'Donoghue sits down with inspirational individuals to delve into what has motivated them to follow their heart.
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Now displaying: Category: Parenting
Sep 27, 2022

Allen and Lisa are joined this week by RainafazzAF breakdown all the different elements of the blockchain, nfts and crypto and how you can learn alongside your kids and help them navigate the new world that will be available to  them! #parenting #parentsontheblockchain #nfts #nftcommunity #children #onlinesafety

Dec 19, 2017

This was such a fun and interesting podcast to do! Allen & Gerry tackle some very common Christmas parenting issues. Enjoy!!

Oct 27, 2017

In this episode, Allen & Gerry discuss a range of parenting topics including a 14 year old refusing to go to school and how to support your child auditioning for a TV talent show. 

Aug 18, 2017

In this episode Allen and Gerry cover a range of Parenting questions such as teens hanging around and getting into trouble, volunteering, building self esteem, being left home alone, teens distancing themselves and dealing with adult children. 

May 3, 2017

Allen of answers your questions on a number of topics.  In this podcast, Allen discusses whether or not you can be your child's best friend as well as their parent, how to deal with kids playing parents off against each other, introducing alcohol to teenagers, parents social media use, having "perfect children" and overweight kids! Oh and a cheeky mention for the 2017 Parenting Expo in September in Dublin. We hope you enjoy it.

Apr 12, 2017

Grandparents Looking After Grandkids.  

It takes a village to rear a child is an old saying and today it is as valid as it ever was. More and more grandparents are taking on the role of child carers. With the high cost of mortgages and child care, it is often necessary for both parents to work, to cover living expenses. Or both parents may choose to focus on career.

From the child's perspective grandparents caring for them is a wonderful experience. All children need love, acceptance and validation in order to develop a strong sense of self and independence and being surrounded by people who love them unconditionally fosters these qualities in them.

However, issues can develop unless boundaries are made clear from the very beginning.

Grandparents need to remember that this is not their child and it is up to the parents to set out how they want their child cared for. Issues around discipline, food, sleep etc. should be clearly understood prior to the childcare starting. Parents also need to understand that their parent has successfully raised them, so they are not without parenting skills.

Children need structure and consistency in their lives, so it is important that all the people caring for them are working from the same perspective.

Differing opinions need to be discussed and negotiated. It is not appropriate for the Parents to lay down rules which the other finds difficult or impossible to implement. It is also unacceptable for the Grandparents to agree to the structures and then to disregard them and do their own thing. What happens here is that the child receives mixed messages which just confuses them and leaves them feeling unsafe and with divided loyalties.

How then can these differences be dealt with respectfully?

1: both parties need to admit that there may be a potential problem.

2: an appropriate time needs to be set aside to discuss the issues. Not when people are tired following a long day, much better to meet when both parties are free.

3: start with “I” messages, e.g. I am worried, I feel restricted, I am not sure what is expected etc.

4: then say what you would really like to do about the issue.

5: together think up ideas which are possible solutions to the issue and list them.

6: choose one idea, the one most likely to succeed.

7: plan the details.

8: carry it out

If 8 fails or is difficult to implement, go back to 6 again and choose a second option.

Allow each party space to speak without interruption, giving them your full attention.

If parents and grandparents put their love for the child first, they will find it easier to come to an agreement in the service of the child. In this way appropriate boundaries for the child will be put in place. The parents will feel secure that their child will be well cared for and the bond between the child and the grandparents will grow from the daily interaction.


Mar 23, 2017

Not every family is 2 adults and 2.4 children. Whether you are a single parent by choice or whether you have lost your partner, the issue of parents forming new relationships can be hard for kids and can manifest itself in many different ways.


So what can parents do to help their children deal with either parent introducing a new partner? 

  • This can be quite a balancing act. The main thing to remember is that you are your children’s biggest role model so take it slow.
  • You may be head over heels in love with person, but that doesn’t mean that your children will feel the same. Be prepared for them “not liking” this person in the beginning.
  • It’s important to remember that your children love their other parent too and possibly might still hold out some hope that their parents will get back together so when a new partner is introduced this can be quite confusing and difficult for your child to understand.
  • Your children don’t need to meet (or know) every person you may be dating. Although you may be infatuated with your partner, especially after a relatively short space of time, many relationships don’t work out and putting your children through the undue “stress” of meeting a new partner and all the emotions that come with that, should be kept to a minimum.
  • If you feel that your relationship is one that is going to last, talk to your children about your partner before they meet. Let them know that this person is special to you and you’d really like them to meet.
  • You can explain that this person is not replacing their other parent and that they will not get in the way of your relationship with your children.
  • Have that first meeting in a neutral place, like going bowling or a park, something that your child actually likes doing. This way they don’t feel like your partner is encroaching on their turf!
  • As always, keep good lines of communication open with everyone involved and chat about how the first meeting went.
  • As the meetings continue, make time for your partner to chat with your children in a relaxed way and without any pressure.
  • It might also be an idea to let your former partner know that you have a new relationship.
  • As your relationship develops, it might be worthwhile explaining why your partner is staying over and remember that you are showing your children how to conduct a positive relationship.


Mar 21, 2017

What is resilience and why is important to our children?

•  Resilience is the ability people have to recover from setbacks quickly and in children it is extremely important. Most parents I deal with, if they were able to pick a trait they would love their children to have, it is the ability to deal with things when they go wrong or don’t go as well as expected, and can adapt to any situation that they find themselves up against. Ultimately this is resilience.

•  The people who are successful in any walk of life are the people who, even when they are knocked down, believe in their own ability to achieve and can pick themselves up and “get back on the horse”. Resilience is just as important as natural ability.


How can we build resilience in our children?

•  First things first, we are all individual and we all learn skills in slightly different ways. The list below is a toolbox of techniques that could work for your children.

•  Your child has some resilience skills already! That’s right, your child begins building their ability to cope with pressures from day one. Also remember, your child will hone their resilience skills, not only through interactions with you, but through friends, relatives, teachers, coaches and peers. This can be quite a reassurance for parents.

•  Doing everything for your children will slow the development of their resilience. We all learn from doing things for ourselves, but if we block our children from learning how to complete tasks and be successful at it, this can stunt their progress. Obviously it will be important to be there for them if they need a little help but don’t take over.

•  Little victories are extremely important. Your child will achieve things and while you don’t need to go overboard in the praise of these, it will be important to help them to recognise HOW they achieved these victories.

•  Get them involved in helping others. Volunteering is the bedrock of many communities and provide volunteers with a serious sense of self-worth and belonging, two very important aspects of resilience.

•  Trusting your children will help them trust themselves. Allowing your kids that bit of leeway to try new things and build their confidence is really important. It can be as simple as letting them walk to the shop or school on their own. If issues do arise, again, instead of giving the solutions, get them to explore the potential solutions with you.

•  Sometimes straight after something has happened or not gone as well as your child had hoped, give them a little bit of time to process it in their own heads before delving into solutions.

•  Be enthusiastic but realistic. “You were the best player on the pitch sweetheart!” when they have been substituted after 20 minutes is not much use to your child. All it will do is make them believe you less. If all the evidence tells your child that they have had a bad game or things haven’t gone there way, you can start with an open-ended question like, “how are you feeling after that game?” This allows your child the space to talk about their feelings, if they wish.

•  Remember that your child’s feelings are real for them, so if they are frustrated or upset about how an event has gone, explore with them, what they could do differently if they are in a similar situation again. If they struggle with this, give them a number of different options and let them pick the one that works for them. You can then go on to talk about what they need to do to put this option into action.

•  Teach your children relaxation & mindfulness techniques. We can all do with learning skills to calm ourselves down and keep things in perspective. There are lots of simple relaxation tools online, get them and learn them with your child.

Mar 12, 2017

Allen of CA Coaching answers your questions on a number of topics.  In this podcast, Allen discusses about how best to talk to your child about stranger danger. Being realistic, how to keep safe and also what to do if an incident does occur. He also provides tips to deal with a difficult ex partner. You can't control what they do, so all you can do is control what you can do. Using these tips can help reduce the stress and keep your relationship with your child positive.

Mar 12, 2017

For some parents, using the internet can be as scary as walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon on a windy day. Some people get a complete mental block about using sites and either feel like they need to do a course or find someone to help them navigate sites…just incase they cause the computer to explode! It is very much based around a fear of the unknown. Many people didn’t get a chance to grips with the internet as it was evolving and have now almost resigned themselves to the fact that they just don’t know how to use it and that’s that.

Children and young people, on the other hand, embrace the internet like it’s their best friend! There is absolutely no fear factor and they feel so confident that they will accept any new popular sites and learn as they go. They delve into nearly all nooks and crannies of sites they enjoy (many of these being social media outlets), until they figure out how it works and then off they go into cyberspace to discover the world.

Both of these attitudes have created a sense of growing distance between some parents and children resulting in parents relying on media outlets to inform them of the “dangerous” sites that can cause their children harm, while at the same time, almost providing a road map for young people to explore a new site they shouldn’t. Well here’s the good news parents, it doesn’t have to be like this and there are a number of really helpful sites out there that can help you learn and understand all about the sites your children use every day (see the list below!).

How we access the internet is constantly changing and, as parents, it’s important to be aware of how your children are using the internet on a daily basis. We’ve progressed from a big bulking computer and monitor in the corner of the kitchen to having the ability to access the internet via tablets and phones and using glasses is just around the corner…who knows where this will lead us next!

With all this in mind, online bullying has become a real and tangible issue for both young and old alike. Whereas, years ago bullying was generally confined to outside the child’s door, with the ever expanding use of technology, we have unintentionally opened our front door and invited bullying into the home. As parents we can’t completely prevent our children from going online, and it’s important to not scaremonger your children about the internet but it is important to discuss with them how they can keep themselves safe while online, just as you would teach them about road safety or stranger danger.

So what can parents do. We have created a short information sheet for both parents and teens to keep safe online which can be downloaded below.

Tips for Kids

  • People you are talking to online may not be who they say they are.
  • Only put up information you’d be happy for your parents & relatives to see/read.
  • Everyone should check out for tips on staying safe.
  • Only accept people as friends online if you know them in person.
  • Never agree to meet an online friend in person, without permission from your parents.
  • Not everything you read online is actually correct.
  • Respect others and yourself while online as you would in person.
  • Show your parents how to use the internet!
  • Don’t give out personal information (phone number, address etc.).

Tips for Parents

  • Discover the internet together.
  • Make sure you have good lines of communication open with your children.
  • Learn about what social media your children use and how they use it.
  • Check internet history.
  • Don’t overreact if you find something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s possible your child got there by accident.
  • Encourage your child to let you know if they ever feel uncomfortable.
  • Save any abusive/concerning messages sent to your children, no matter what devise it is on.
  • Report any obscene messages to your local gardai.
  • Set guidelines for internet use whether at home or on mobile devices.
  • Set up the computer in a busy space in the house (kitchen/sitting room).
  • Get parental controls on your devices and your children’s devices. Use filtering software and keep it up to date.
  • Check regularly for updates on the latest trends in social media activity.

Download our Online Safety – Tips for Parents

Useful sites for parents:

So don’t be scared of the internet, that expensive tablet you bought isn’t going to blow up in your hands if you access a Manchester United supports site (well maybe it will!), and like we consistently say, communication with your child is the key.

If you have any concerns about your child’s internet use, or wish to book some internet safety coaching sessions, feel free to contact me at

Mar 5, 2017

It is never too early for you to get your kids into a healthy lifestyle. Children have a lot of energy and as a parent, it is your role to help ensure they use up that energy every day. Some tips for raising a healthy, happy child:

  • The earlier you introduce fruit and vegetables into their daily routine the less likely you are to have a fussy eater.  Don’t pass on your own food prejudices onto your kids – encourage them to taste everything and try everything. And remember just because they don’t like the taste of things at two years of age doesn’t mean they won’t like it when they are three or four or five.
  • Of course kids should have a sweet treat, but remember they should be just that, a treat. Sweets, chocolate and bars should not be a daily occurrence, especially for toddlers. Treats can just as easily be fresh fruit, raisins or fruit yoghurts (that are low in sugar). You can teach your toddler what a treat is, and that doesn’t always have to be a sugary treat.
  • Good behaviour should be rewarded with positive reinforcement and not sweet treats. If you are doing a star chart with your child, the end reward should be an activity together – something fun that you will do together and that you will both enjoy.
  • Know what your child is eating. If you are buying processed foods for your toddler know what the ingredients are. Many processed foods are high in sugar, salt or saturated fats – none of these are good for young children.
  • Make a trip to the supermarket an adventure – think about the fruit and vegetable aisle from the perspective of a toddler. All those colours and shapes will be attractive to them. Talk to them about food and bring home something new to try every week. As long as a child is in a buggy or trolley you can also avoid the sweets aisle – remember they learn pester power at a very early age.
  • Involve your kids in cooking. Help them to understand that time spent cooking helps to create yummy food that they will enjoy.
  • If they don’t like the texture of fruit or vegetables then make your own sauces. Load them full of fresh fruit and vegetables and whizz them up to a smooth consistency that you can put on pasta or with chicken or potatoes.
  • Get them used to exercise – a lively trip the playground, kicking a football in the garden, playing chasing. On a wet day run races up and down the corridor or play chasing around the couch. Teach them to swim, dance or other activities that involve jumping around and being active. Kids who are active have better concentration and sleep better at night because both their bodies and their brains are tired.
  • If your child is an only child, set up play dates with other kids. This will encourage them to try new things, to play new games and to learn how to share and interact with others. This is a very important lesson for when they go to school. It is also very important for you as a parent to get out and spend time with other adults and break the cycle of being stuck at home.
  • And finally, both kids and clothes are washable. Allow your kids to get dirty when they are playing. Put on their wellies and let them jump in puddles (wait until you hear them laughing).



  • Exercise should be a daily part of family life.
  • Get them involved in team sports. Team sports not only get them fit and healthy but also teach them structure, discipline, team work and fun while making new friends.
  • If it’s raining, set up games indoors or take them to indoor play areas. Remember, children and clothes can be washed…kids love playing in the rain.
  • Let them try as many as possible.
  • Take an interest in the sport they play.
  • Don’t give them or let them create excuses to not take part. People with severe disabilities and without limbs exercise every day.
  • Make time for exercise yourself. Sometimes it seems like there are never enough hours in the day but we need to prioritise exercise. Plus you’ll never regret getting up and exercising!
  • It is also important for your children to see you exercise (or to know that you make time to exercise). If they exercise as kids and they see you enjoying and making time for exercise as an adult, they will learn that it is part of a lifelong habit.  It helps to clear your head. It helps you to de-stress. It releases endorphins – the happy hormones. And it keeps you fit and healthy. A great result!
  • They will also learn that time for mum and dad need time for themselves also!


Check out - For some really important information and tips to keep your kids healthy!

Feb 26, 2017

The word “Drugs” can be really scary for parents – When do I start talking to my child about drugs? What drugs do I talk about?

We live in a drug taking society which means that we need to understand and be aware that our children are going to come across drugs at some stage. The first thing to remember is that our children, in the majority of cases, will come into contact with legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and medicines. The secret is to get yourself as much correct information as you can. Talking about legal drugs to your children is a great first step to opening up communication about the subject without getting into the so-called scary stuff!

Don’t panic, you’re not the first parent to worry about whether you know enough or whether your child knows more than you. It’s okay to say “I’m not sure but I’ll find out for you”. With all of our discussions, communication is the most important part of the parent/child relationship and never more so than discussing drugs. If you have good communication, your child is less likely to go looking for information elsewhere. As a parent it’s important for you to learn the correct facts about drugs and luckily there are many really good resources on the internet, some of which we have put up on our site

Why is it important for parents to talk about drugs with their children?

  • No Family is immune from the impact of drugs. Be they legal or illegal drugs, many families will have some dealings with drugs.
  • Children know more about drugs than we think. They come across drug use in the home from a very early age. This is when it’s a great opportunity to open up the discussion around drugs.
  • Generally society will use scare tactics to “frighten” people into doing or not doing what someone wants. Drug use is a prime example of this.
  • Ultimately if you have a child who does get into difficulty with drugs or is struggling to not give into peer pressure, they will need you to be there for them.

When should parents start the drug conversation?

  • This very much depends on the parent and how comfortable/knowledgeable they are about the drug(s) in question.
  • Children will be aware of legal drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and medication. This is a great opportunity for parents to begin the conversation around safe use of legal drugs and the law. It does not have to be significantly in depth but you can discuss the effects of having too much of a certain drug and what it can do to you.
  • Use “teachable moments”. If you have to give your child some medication, see an anti-smoking advert on tv or even if you’re not drinking at a family event, you can use this opportunity to discuss the reasons for these.

What about the preteens?

  • Find out what they know. You can discuss with you preteen what drugs they have heard about and where they heard them from. It’s a good opportunity then for you to get the information for yourself and chat to them about what you feel they need to know.
  • Discuss the difference between legal and illegal drugs.
  • Provide reassurance. As your child gets closer to second level school, reassure them that if they ever come across or feel pressure to take any drugs, they can always come to you and you will help them deal with it.
  • Practice role playing situations. With your child you can practice how they might say no or give them alternatives to being in those situations like, “I have to be home at X time”, “I got in trouble the last time, I can’t afford to get in trouble again”.

And then the teens?

  • It’s really important to not be judgemental if your child comes to you to talk about drugs.
  • Don’t dismiss what they believe as ridiculous. They came to you with, which is a huge bonus, sit and discuss with them where they got their information and then discuss the facts that you know.
  • Don’t assume that your child has tried drugs/will never try drugs. Both of these issues can bring their own pitfalls. Some parents feel that it is a good idea to drug test their child with a home testing kit bought from a pharmacy. As I have said to many parents, you need to be prepared to deal with either outcome. If it is a negative result, you have effectively told your child that you don’t believe/trust them while if it’s a positive result, what will you do then? Many parents don’t think through the consequences of carrying out these tests and by communicating with your child, there is more of a chance that you can work together to find a solution.
  • Don’t ignore your gut feeling. If you have concerns, speak to your child.
  • If you child does come to you with a problem or you find out that your child is taking drugs, don’t overreact. What your child needs is to be supported to stop. First things first, let them know you’re there for them and that you will help them get through whatever the situation is for them. Then depending on how severe the situation, you can contact your doctor for a referral to local drug services. You can also find out what services are available in your local area that could be more appropriate to your child’s needs.
  • While it’s important to support your child, you must also keep yourself and your family safe. If you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour while they are under the influence, it might be worth speaking to your local community gardai about the situation and as for their advice if there is violence.

Where can parent get more information?

There are some wonderful resources out there. Many parenting drug awareness programmes offered through schools and youth/parent programmes. There are also some excellent sites with some good information to support parents and teens through a very difficult time. A selection of these we have linked below.

Intervention – Drug and Alcohol Information and Support in Ireland –

Talking to Your Child About Drugs

Drug info - FRANK

Feb 26, 2017

Talking about sex with your child can be just as daunting as talking about drugs with your child. How can parents approach the subject without embarrassing their children and themselves?

• This really does depend on how your child develops physically and emotionally. Both of which can happen a different times. There are some really good books out there now for tweens & young teens about changes that happen to both boys and girls, and I think it’s really important for both to understand how the opposite sex develops as well. By buying one of these books, it introduces your child to the idea of changes and even just telling them that they can read it in their own time and ask you any questions they may have gives your child a sense of freedom and also allows them to process things in their own head. This way they can come to you when they are ready and not just when you think ‘they should know’.

• Children are capable of understand so much from quite a young age. From 2-3 you can start to refer to parts of the body by their actual names, this actually will help when it comes to more in depth conversations in later years.

• 7-8 is a good age to begin to talk about where babies come from. Be factual and you can continually refer to the importance of a healthy loving relationship.

• 8-9 is also a good time to begin discussing the changes that will occur in your child’s body and the body of the opposite sex.

• There are some very good books out there for boys and girls on the changes that take place.

• As you discuss relationships, it’s so important to constantly refer to healthy relationships and model this. Ask your children what they think a healthy relationship should be like and discuss from there.


Our children are growing up in a digital age now, how can this impact on our children’s ideas of relationships?

• Remember you are your child’s biggest role model, so how you conduct your relationships has been teaching them from day one.

• So many teens put huge weight on getting large amounts of “likes” and “online friends” but there are so many dangers linked to this.

• It’s important to teach our children about healthy relationships and what they look like. Pornography and the general media distort the reality of what a healthy relationship is like. We need to take this on board and not leave our children to see that this is what relationships should be like.


Comedians will regularly joke about teens becoming irrational and everything being “So unfair!” Why is this the case?

• There are actual physical and emotional changes that take place in teens that cause them to be quite moody. A teenagers brain grows and develops are a really rapid rate and this can cause their moods to shift just as quickly.

• Also due to these rapid changes, teenagers have poor impulse control so they can say things they don’t mean.

• The physical changes that teens go through also impact on their moods. In girls, they get their monthly cycle and this can cause significant mood swings.

• Both boys and girls are trying to get to grips with who they are in the world and put with the physical and emotional changes, can lead them to feel very insecure.

• Your preteen/teen has much more of an understanding about what happens in the world and it isn’t a nice place sometimes. As a child, they just had to worry about who they were going to play with or what was for dinner but as they get older they begin to fully realise that people hurt and kill people, that animals are killed for food and other realisations that can be hard to get to grips with.


What can a parent do to support their child through the teens?

• Don’t just dismiss what is happening a “they’re just being moody!” It’s important for your child (no matter what age) to know that their feelings matter and are important to you. This can be difficult, especially if it is a regular occurrence but you have to remember that that break up at 14 really does feel like the end of the world to your child.

• Our bodies tell us how we are feeling before our mind does. We will feel a tightening in our stomach or sweating etc, so let’s work with our teens to help them to recognise these signs and offer tips to reduce their stress levels.

• Maintaining physical health will have a significant impact on how our children can deal with their emotional health. Both are as important as the other. Getting enough sleep, eating healthily, getting exercise etc are all so important to being able to maintain our health. We also need to be part of this and model the importance of physical health.

• Talk about how we cope with issues and how they can do the same. This can be hard as we have to look at ourselves and realise that our children see how we deal with issues. Let them know that they can take time out, go for a walk, talk to someone they trust and relaxation techniques in order to de-stress.

• Encourage your teens to get out and about. There are more and more options being brought onto the market to keep us indoors or interacting online. Make sure your children are involved in activities and encourage them to spend time with their friends.

• Teach them social responsibility. One of the most fulfilling things we can do is give time to help others. Getting our kids volunteering will give them so much personally while helping others at the same time.


You can download our free factsheet - Helping Teens Cope

Feb 19, 2017

More and more children are being diagnosed as suffering from anxiety.


Some are more severe than others, but for each individual child, there are parents who can sometimes feel very lost in how to help and support their child through times like this.

One of the most anxious times for any parent can be having a teenager leave school early, no matter what the reason. Today we will explore ways to deal with your own feelings and supporting your child as best as you can.


What do we mean when we talk about anxiety?

  • The first thing to say is that most of us feel anxious at different times in our lives. It is a natural emotion that anyone can experience especially if there is a significant event coming up.
  • What we need to recognise is that anxiety is an emotion of the future. By that I mean, we worry about something turning out worse than we hoped.
  • We can exaggerate how badly things are going to turn out and this causes a body reaction such as butterflies or sweating.
  • We rarely imagine the event turning out unbelievably positive, yet there is as much chance of this happening as the worst case scenario happening.
  • Teenagers are growing up in a world where there is so much focus on each person (selfies, social media etc) where validation and acceptance come from well outside the normal peer boundaries.


Teenagers seem to have so many different issues that can lead to feelings of anxiety, and this can be a massive worry for parents. Are there any ways that parents can help to reduce their child’s anxiety?

  • There are many different models for working with people who are suffering from anxiety and for most people, we don’t want our kids popping pills. We would much rather they learn to deal with these anxieties and the causes for themselves.
  • How many people do you know, got into a car to learn to drive, had an accident early in their driving career and never drove again. What happens is that an event takes place, that causes a person to think a certain way about their driving, which then causes an emotional reaction (fear, embarrassment etc), which leads to a physical feeling in the body (butterflies, making themselves sick) that impacts on behaviour (never driving again). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy believes that if you can change any one of these, there is a higher chance of success.
  • You need to listen to your child, not only to what they are saying but to what they are feeling. Don’t dismiss their feelings by saying that the “bully won’t hit you today”. I was given a great analogy once, where it was described as your child, when they think of school, sees a huge tidal wave about to crash in around them. It’s important to get to the root of the issue.
  • Ask your child how they might like to deal with the situation that is causing them anxiety, if they can begin to change that sense of hopelessness, they are in a much stronger position to overcome.
  • Get them to practise mindfulness techniques where they focus on their body and breathing properly. When you are anxious, your breathing increases and your body goes into fight, flight or freeze mode. By teaching you child to control their breath, will help them to slow this process down.
  • Enlist the help of a professional if it is so severe that it becomes debilitating.


Having a child leave school early is almost a worst case scenario for many parents. How can parents handle this situation?

  • There are really a number of different elements here. Legally if you child is under 16 they need to be in school. Nearly all parents are well aware of this, but can still struggle to get their child back into education.
  • Engage with your local Education Welfare Officer. They will be able to tell you all the available options for your child and will advocate on behalf of your child if they have been put out of one school and you’re struggling to find another school that will take your child.
  • If your child is just refusing to go to school, you need to learn what the reasons are for this. You will most likely hear, “I just hate it” or “I hate a certain teacher” or “It bores me”, but is your child actually saying, “I’m struggling with the work” or “I don’t understand what the teacher is saying to me”. When children struggle in school, how they can deal with it in many cases, is through disruption or aggressive behaviour which distracts from them not understanding the content.
  • There really is no point in asking your child “What do you want to do with your life”, you might as well be asking if they fancy a first class trip to the moon. Many teenagers live in the here and now and the future is not necessarily something they worry about.
  • The main objective is to get them back into some form of education as quickly as possible. There are many non-traditional educational options available in most areas now, so take the time to find out what and where the options are, just in case another school won’t take them in.
  • It’s also important for your child to not be left to sit around and sleep in. This will encourage them to stay up late and as the novelty of being out of school wears off, they can become restless and this is when they can gravitate towards groups of other young people who might encourage anti-social behaviour.
  • Get them working with/for you or a relative where they have a purpose for each day. This may also make them realise that school wasn’t quite as bad as they thought.
  • Try and talk to them about what the issues were in school that caused them to leave. You will probably be told that it was down to everyone else, but try and dig deeper with them.
  • Come up with a plan together. They may be embarrassed at being put out of school, but this may show itself through angry and aggressive behaviour. Maintain the household boundaries but try and work with your child to reassure them that you will support them through this period.
  • Keep your own emotions and disappointment in check. You might feel embarrassed and let down by your child. Its okay to let your child know you’re disappointed but let them know you’re not giving up on them.
  • If your child just refuses to go to school, you may have to let natural consequences kick in where they have to get out and get working but it will be important not to facilitate them doing nothing.


Both of these issues can be very difficult for both parent and child. By exploring as many options as possible, you are letting your child know that you are there for them and will work through these issues with them. This can offer such reassurance to your child which can make the process that bit more bearable for both of you.


If you or your child require support around any of the issues discussed above, contact Allen on 086-8058404 or at to arrange a personal appointment.

Feb 19, 2017

We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends…and your kids are going to choose their friends. As a parent this can be a worry as you may feel that certain friends can be a negative influence on your child. So how do you deal with this in a positive way? 

Do we let our kids pick their own friends or do we have any right to interfere?

  • The best thing you can do is get to know your kids friends. Allow your kids to invite them over to your house and take an interest in getting to know them. You will be amazed at how, when they get to know you on a personal level, will help to influence their actions when it comes to your child and the influence they may try to assert over your child. 
  • There are actually quite a number of levels to dealing with this and a lot will depend on your child’s age. As a younger child, sometimes you might have to say that they cannot play with a certain child as you have concerns but how you deal with this is very important.
  • If you are to just say, “That’s it, you can’t play with them, because we say so”, will most likely just cause confusion within your child. There may be a valid reason, and one that might not be appropriate for your child to know about, but they do need an explanation. The reason for this is that they can begin to think that there is something wrong with their friend or even something wrong with them.
  • Try and get to know the parents of your children’s friends, even just on a first name basis. This will make any potential issues that may arise, easier to deal with in a positive manner.
  • As your kids get older, this can become a lot more difficult to control or impact upon. They will choose their friends based on a shared interest or shared acquaintances. Much of how they deal with situations involving friends will come down to how they view themselves and how they should be treated.
  • By teaching our children to respect themselves and respect others, you are increasing the chances that they will, for the most part, make the right choices. Of course they will make mistakes but that’s when, as parents, we have to be there for them.
  • You may get to a point where you have to approach the parent of a friend and have a frank discussion about how, negatively, both your children are influencing each other. This is not an easy discussion to have and emphasises the importance of knowing their parents. You may be met with a negative response and be ready to keep your cool with this.
  • If your child continues to hang out with an extremely negative influence (someone who maybe is getting them into trouble), you may need to take more drastic actions like severe consequences.
  • And then, the hardest one of all, allow natural consequences kick in. If your child is choosing to get into trouble, whether they are being influenced by others or not, then they have to deal with the outcome of that. You can be there for them to support them but they need to deal with the outcomes of their actions.


For more information contact Allen on 086-8058404 or

Jan 31, 2017

Allen of CA Coaching answers your questions on a number of topics.  In this podcast, Allen talks about how dealing with family pressures at Christmas, when should children get a phone, staying safe online, children's privacy, sibling rivalry, setting boundaries, volunteering, gift giving as separated parents and introducing a new partner to your children at Christmas.

Nov 20, 2016

Allen of CA Coaching answers several listeners questions about a variety of parenting topics. In this podcast, Allen discusses how to talk to your kids about topics like sex and drugs, how to deal with nieces & nephews and social media concerns, teens spending all summer in the house using social media to stay in touch with friends, teens not wanting to do homework, and how to be a good role model to your children. 

Oct 24, 2016

Bullying is such a difficult topic for parents and kids alike. Many parents feel that they need to ‘sort out the bully’ or some even bury their head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. Much of this is due to parents not knowing how to deal with bullying, especially when your child is being accused of bullying.

Your child being bullied is one of the most worrying aspects of bringing up kids. It’s a very real issue and can be very difficult for parents to deal with. There are many possible forms of bullying and sometimes your children might not even be aware that they are being bullied.                                           

One of the best things you can do is work with you child to develop strategies for them to deal with the issue themselves. By empowering your kids to tackle the issue, you will be arming your child with invaluable skills, not only for life, but also for preventing them from being bullied in the future.

We’ve put together some of the most effective tips that you can give to your kids to help them deal with bullying in as positive way as possible:


  • Encourage your child to show confidence. Even if they are not confident on the inside, they can pretend. This is something you could role play with your child to let them see how it feels to portray confidence.
  • Don’t fight back/name call the bully, this might well have the opposite effect and put your child in even more danger.
  • Walk away but don’t run. Your child can just say “leave me alone” and walk away and find an adult. Don’t run as this may just encourage the bully to chase your child.
  • Let you child know that it’s very important that they tell you what’s happened. This can be difficult for your child, especially if they have been warned not to tell anyone.
  • Ask what they want to do about the situation and how they would like it handled. This will encourage them to think about how they have the ability to overcome the situation, but with your support.
  • Encourage your child to make friends. Children who have friends are less likely to be singled out by bullies. Introduce them to new activities where they can make new friends and build positive peer relationships.
  • Teach them what bullying actually is. Let them know the different types of bullying and not to accept it, even if it’s their friends who are bullying others.

These are just some tips that can discuss with your child. The big thing is to have the discussion, even if you don’t think it’s a major issue. If your child has awareness of what bullying is they will see it and with open communication will be more likely to speak to you about what might be going on for them.

 (Check out for more information and useful tips)

What if your child is the bully?

I think it is fair to say that parents worry about their child being bullied BUT when parents discover that their child is the “bully” they are often shocked and defensive.

So my first point here is to control your own reactions. If a parent, the school or a youth club contacts you to say that your child is bullying another child you need to stay calm and listen to what they have to say. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. You need to let them know that you are open to working with them to find a solution.

Take it seriously. You may not want to believe it. You may not want to believe that your child could behave in that way. But you need to deal with it.

Take a balanced approach. Sometimes parents will be embarrassed. Others might even be faintly proud that their child is a strong and dominant character. Both reactions are normal human reactions but either way, you still need to deal with this situation.

Listen to what is being said, gather the information and prepare yourself to talk to your child about it.

Talk to your child and be ready to listen.

Ask them about bullying, find out if they truly understand what they are doing:

  • Talk to them about what bullying is: being nasty, excluding others from games, laughing at people for being clever (or not clever) or for looking different, sharing negative messages on social media, not standing up for others, making others feel worthless.
  • Sometimes, by having this conversation you will discover that a child doesn’t understand what they are doing. But they will recognise their behaviour through the conversation and will be genuinely remorseful at the notion of hurting others.


The next step is to ask them about the incidents that were mentioned to you.


  • Again, you need to control your reactions. Don’t get angry. Don’t drag them down to the Garda Station to scare them. But you do need them to understand that this is serious. Remind them that you still love them but that you are going to work together to fix this.
  • Keep listening to them. If this behaviour is totally out of character you might find that they are doing it as a reaction to something that happened to them. Perhaps they experienced bullying in the past and this is their new defence mechanism.
  • Role play the situation with them as it might have happened in the past so that they act out the incident. Now that you understand the incident, reverse roles where your child is the victim of bullying. Talk to them about how it feels to have been on the receiving end. Then role play it with a different ending, without the negative behaviour and ask your child to explain how they might handle it differently in future.
  • Make it clear that you will be returning to talk to your child about this again to see how they are getting on and remind them that they can come and talk to you about it any time.
  • Don’t label your child a “bully”. This can have lifelong implications. Let them know that just because they have bullied in the past does not mean that they will be a bully forever and that they have the power to control how they behave.

Bullying is a worry for everyone and we need to take positive action for our kids whether they are being bullied or are the bully.

Sep 7, 2016

None of us want to ever be called a pushy parent, but how do you get the balance between actively encouraging your child to be the best they can be and pushing them to the point where they want to give up. By building resilience in our children, we are giving them a tremendous gift that will lead them through life.

In this article we will examine ways to get that balance in place. 


We hear the term thrown around a lot but what actually is a pushy parent?

•  I suppose the typical view of a pushy parent is the parent who stands on the side line at their kids sports match, shouting and roaring instructions. Then getting home and going over and over the things their child did wrong and how to fix them.

•  Another is the parent who has a racquet or club in their child’s hands or have them sitting at a piano from the moment they can move independently.

•  There can sometimes be a fine line between being supportive of your child and their interests and slipping into pushy parent mode. I am all for encouraging your children and helping them develop their skills and interests but when it moves into 2-3 hours of practise a day, at a very young age, their needs to be some balance brought to the situation.

•  This can be even more difficult if your child shows a higher skill level for a certain sport or activity and you as a parent can feel under pressure from coaches or teachers offering advice on how to get your child to the top.


Is it easy to get the balance between encouragement & pushing too hard?

•  The “simple” answer is “not all the time”! It can be difficult because parents feel that sometimes they need to encourage their children to go to activities that they may not be overly interested in at first, but then go on to love, once they begin to see their skill levels increase.

•  There is also the difficulty of giving your children too much control over what they do. By letting them drop out of everything because they “don’t want to do it” after only doing two lessons and then giving up, can lead your kids believing that they don’t have to commit to anything, or that maybe they’re not good at any activities as they haven’t had the chance to build a certain amount of skill for the activity.

•  It is important that your child needs enough time at a certain activity to see that they are improving. For some this will be rather quick, while for others it may take much longer. The important thing is to continue encouraging them.


What if your child is really gifted…what do you do then?

•  The most important element here is to support them and encourage them, without it becoming the complete focus of their lives. By this I mean, your child still needs to have that balance in their lives where they can do & experience other things that aren’t related to the area that they are excelling in.

•  Instead of pointing out faults and mistakes that your children make, ask them how they think they might improve their performance. You may be amazed at how much they know and understand themselves. If they are struggling, you can give them suggestions, but try and shape them in a positive learning way.

•  There is no guarantee of success. The reality is that your child may go on to become the next world superstar but the majority won’t. 1% of young people will make it to the top of their chosen field so maybe this shouldn’t be the complete focus of their childhood. We all know the stories of people like Tiger Woods or the Williams sisters in tennis, where they seemed to be bred to be the best, but there are as many Padraig Harrington’s who went onto be Major champions having started in their teens.

•  There have been many many junior champions or “would-be” world beaters, who packed it all in or decided they didn’t enjoy it anymore, because it stopped being fun. This can be very frustrating for parents who have invested lots of time and money in their child’s development and can cause issues within the family. Keep in mind, if your child ends up regretting dropping out, they have to live with that, not you.

•  It can be important to ask yourself, who is this for? Is it for your child or is it for yourself. Your child’s enjoyment needs to be the overriding reason for them taking part in an activity, and not focusing on having to be the best or worrying about becoming a professional.


Aug 31, 2016

Many adult children are still living, or have moved back, into the family home for many different reasons. For some people this can bring about a very different dynamic to the family set up, which can sometimes be the basis for conflict. We’ll delve into ways to manage this situation.

So why do adults stay living with or move back in with their parents?

  • Generally it usually comes down to money! Yes it’s not the only reason but in most cases it will be the main reason. People either don’t have the money to get their own place or have maybe lost their own place due to financial difficulties.
  • Other reasons might be for physical or emotional support due to different medical conditions.
  • Many full time adult students will live with their parents throughout their studies as their income potential is significantly decreased.

So where and how can issues come about?

  • For adults who have lived away from the family home for a good amount of time, moving home can be a necessary evil. When they move back into their parent’s house there can be a large number of issues that arise. Parents can sometimes slip back into “parenting” mode. This can be nice in the beginning, having meals cooked, washing done and so on, but this can quickly turn into a bone of contention when parents get upset because you’re not home on time for dinner, or came home late from a night out…or didn’t come home at all!
  • The flipside can also arise, where the adult child moves home and expects the parents to “look after” all the above. Some parents can feel like they have already done their job in raising their child and this can build resentment. Why should a parent have to wash an adult child’s dirty undies!!
  • If the child isn’t working or making any attempts to create employment opportunities for themselves, this can become frustrating for parents and trying to talk to their child about it can almost turn into the same experience as it was when they were 6 or 7 years old!
  • If a grandchild has come into the family home also this can be difficult as grandparents may feel that their child isn’t parenting “right” while the adult child can feel that they are being undermined by the grandparents.

None of these situations are easy to deal with so what can the parent do?

  • First things first, make sure there are clear lines of communication open, this includes you being open to hearing what your child is trying to tell you about their situation. Ultimately you both want the current situation to run as smoothly as possible for everyone in the home.
  • It might be worth creating a “family contract” of sorts. Not one that’s is overly restrictive or oppressive but one that is an agreement on who does what and when. So it could be as simple as agreeing with your adult child that they do their own laundry or that or will text them during the day if you are making dinner for everyone.
  • As it is your home, your standards of cleanliness need to be maintained so they need to clean up after themselves.
  • You need to also decide and agree if and how much they will contribute to the house financially.
  • If there is a grandchild in the house, you need to sit down with your child and ask them what the boundaries are for the grandchild. They need to lead this discussion and will need to be supported to maintain their boundaries for the child.
  • If you feel that they are not parenting properly in a certain area, approach this gently and subtly and never in front of the grandchild. They may ask you for some advice or support but always take their lead.

You can contact me at

Aug 24, 2016

It’s a time that both kids and parents look forward to and dread in equal measure. The summer has been a time of playing with friends, taking part in summer camps and having the normal routine relaxed…and in some cases completely thrown out the window. The summer can be stressful for parents trying to find things to do for their children.

With children starting back (or even just starting) at school, it can be a really good time for parents to take control and set a new routine and boundaries for their children.


Okay so what can parents of young children do to ease the transition into junior infants or back into school for those who may have completed a year of school already?

First things first, let your child, no matter what age they are, know that school is important. If you place importance on school, your child is more likely to pick that up.

There are a few different variables for kids starting school for the first time. If they have been in Montessori or crèche already, they will have been prepared quite well for this transition and may well be going to school with friends. For those that may be going to school straight from home having not had experience of being in large groups with other kids or the structure of school, here are a few tips:

  • Talk to them about what to expect from school. Explain to them how school works, what the teacher will do, what they might learn, how to make friends and so on.
  • Let them pick their school bag, pencil case and other necessities and try on their school uniform. This can ease transition.
  • If possible take them to school to have a look around. Most schools will have a day where new children can go in and have a look around and see their new classroom. This is really good at helping them feel less worried about going into a new building for the first time. Sometimes schools can be very large, intimidating buildings with lots of children running around.
  • Try and make sure you are there with them on their first day. Dropping them off is such a big event for all of you so go with them and talk them through the walk to the classroom or meeting point.
  • Hold it together! You may feel quite emotional yourself but try and keep it to yourself, when you get back into the car or home, you can blub away all you want. You child will be looking to you for strength.
  • Leave when you’re told to! The school staff are really skilled in dealing with upset children, they do it all the time. Your child may be upset and crying and calling for you but you need to leave them to it. They will settle down much quicker than if you keep hanging on.


After the summer and the boundaries relaxed, is it important to get a proper routine going for school?

  • Absolutely. It is really important for parents to set a new routine as quickly as possible. One that suits both you and your children. By that I mean, you know your kids best and if they are hyper in the evening time, try and get some energy burned up in the early evening and make sure they are having enough wind down time. Making sure they get enough sleep is one of the most important elements in how they get on in school.
  • No electronic devices in the bedroom. There is no need for them and there is a biological reason for this also. The light from tablets/tv/phones actually tells the brain that it is time to wake up so you probably find that your kids take extra time to drop off after watching or playing on a device. Tell them that all devices are to be left downstairs…they’ll probably fight you on it if they are used to it but persevere and they will come round. It may just be a battle of wills.
  • Make sure they are up on time and get a good breakfast into them before school. This might be as hard for you as it will be for them but the mornings need to be chaos free (as much as possible!!). You will set the tone in the morning and if you are up in enough time and calm, it can have a massive impact on how things will go with everyone else.
  • Set a homework time and stick to it. It can be good for kids to have a snack when they come home and then get straight into their homework. Explain to them that the earlier they get it done, the more free time they will have. No TV/playing/devices are to be turned on until home is done.
  • Make sure their uniform, books and everything they need for the following day is arranged the evening before. This will have with keeping the household calm in the morning. Sometimes a checklist stuck on the fridge that children need to tick off as they have done them, in preparation for the following day, can be a good way of both you and them keeping track…and reducing arguments.
  • Keep an eye on their diet. Make sure that they are getting proper nutrition and exercise. It is going to be very important that they get their down time as well. Make sure they get time for their friends and activities that they enjoy.


What advice would you give to those parents with children who are making the transition from primary to second level school?

  • Okay, sometimes this transition can be harder for parents than it can be for kids. By this I mean, realising that your children are going into a more adult environment and all that that brings with it. It can also be the beginning of your child really beginning to pull away from the family unit. This is natural and essential for your child to do, just tell yourself that you will be there when they need you when they inevitably mess up!
  • Before they begin, talk them through some of the changes that they will experience. Remember they have gone from being the biggest in their primary school to being the smallest kid on the block in their secondary school. This can be daunting so to help with this, talk to them about changing classrooms, dealing with different subjects and teachers and reassure them that they are ready for the change (even if you don’t think they are!).
  • Help them set up a practical, realistic plan for getting homework done. There will most likely be much more homework and this will be new to them. Before they get a chance to get overwhelmed by this, work out a structure together.
  • Many schools offer great support to new students coming into the school, whether that’s a mentor scheme or prefect and Year Head teachers. Advice your child to seek help if they need it.
  • They will most likely be getting a mobile phone at this stage (if they haven’t had one before). It will be important to talk to them about online safety and peer pressure. You don’t need to scare them but try and make sure that they know how to be safe and that they don’t ever have to do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing.


  • What if your child is the one who is getting in trouble in school? What can parents do then?
  • It’s what every parent dreads but it happens. Try not to lose your temper and fly off the handle. Find out what actually happened and co-operate with the school to see what the best solution is. Your child is actually less likely get in trouble in school if they know you are in contact with the school.
  • Talk to your child, find out if there is something going on which is causing them to act out like this. They may be feeling like they don’t understand what is going on, they may have an undiagnosed learning issue, and they might even just need glasses and have hid it from you! Then they may be having to deal with being bullied. Dig deeper and look for signs but recognise that something is going on and needs to change.


For more information contact Allen at

Jul 15, 2016

Allen of CA Coaching answers several listeners questions about a variety of parenting topics. In this podcast, Allen discusses teaching your kids about budgeting and saving money, how to handle an argumentative child, how to support and talk to your child when they or their friends are involved in petty crime, supporting your adult kids as parents, finding alternatives to hitting as punishment, and what to do when your child interrupts you while talking. Allen also gives advice on smartphones, your kids, and how to reconnect, the importance of making time for yourself and your interests as a single parent, and what to do when your teenager refuses to go back to school. 

Jul 15, 2016

In this podcast, Allen O’Donoghue answers listeners questions about parenting and discusses how to handle bullying in crèche or or pre-primary school aged kids, tips for helping to empower your child, build resilience and self-esteem, and teaching them about community and volunteering. Additionally, Allen talks about how to handle a fussy eater, offers suggestions on how to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and the importance of getting your child involved in dinner preparation. The final topic discussed is how to handle disrespectful and/or argumentative behaviour in your teenager, ways to improve communication and discuss feelings, and the importance of boundaries and consequences. 

Jun 30, 2016

Allen of CA Coaching discusses how to handle financial pressures and various types of conflict and tension parents can feel at Christmastime.  In this podcast, Allen discusses budgeting and setting realistic expectations for the holidays, the importance of keeping debt in check, and gives advice on how to maintain your budget during the holiday season. Allen also talks about tensions that can arise between separated parents, how to handle conflict and make Christmas more enjoyable for your kids, the importance of seeing Christmas through your child’s eyes, how to handle family conflict on Christmas Day, and the importance of relaxing and being present to make Christmas pleasant and memorable for everyone. 

Jun 30, 2016
When it comes to encouraging our kids in sports or activities and driving them to be the best they can be, how much is too much? Keeping kids active is important but how do you strike the balance between sports and activities, playing with friends, and time to rest? In this podcast, Allen O’Donoghue discusses the pitfalls of pushy parenting and offers advice on how to introduce your kids to sports or activities while maintaining balance in their lives. Allen also discusses how to encourage your kids while keeping your own behavior in check on the sidelines, how to talk to your kids objectively about their performance, and how to handle conflict or disagreement with the coach and/or other players. Additionally, Allen discusses resilience, the ability to deal with setbacks, teaching kids to problem solve for themselves with your support, and how resilience breeds confidence. 
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