There are many awards programmes that emphasise holistic development in young people such as the Gaisce or President Awards. Photograph:  Dave Meehan

The power of helping others is as true for children and young people as it is for adults

The transition to secondary school comes in the middle of adolescence when they are already dealing with the emotional turmoil that this brings. Photograph: iStockphoto

My son has been very protected in a small primary school until now

When the preschool child first learns to feed or dress themselves, they feel a delight that they are in charge of their environment and are beginning on the road to independence.

When a child first learns to feed themselves, they feel a delight that they are in charge

Learning how to make and keep friends can be a big challenge for lots of children. Photograph: iStock

Three-way or group play dates can be fraught with problems

Focusing on the shyness can inadvertently make a child think something might be wrong with them. Photograph: iStockphoto

Saying ‘don’t be shy’ or ‘has the cat got your tongue?’ can increase his anxiety

Whether shouting does damage to children depends on the frequency and severity.

‘My daughter seems fine but my little boy is sensitive and I know he gets upset’

Simply baking: by doing activities they love, children can feel confident and strong and forget their self-consciousness. Photograph: iStockphoto

In part three of this series, John Sharry looks at how to build your child's self-esteem

For teenagers, bereavement can be particularly difficult to come to terms with. Photograph: iStockphoto

She is struggling to get a proper night’s sleep and is very anxious before going to bed

Enjoyment is very important when it comes to close family relationships. Photograph: IStock

In part two of this series, John Sharry looks at how we need to love our children uniquely, not just equally

Help your son to experiment with food by allowing him to smell or lick new food, and to put it in and out of his mouth. Photograph: iStockphoto

Our three-year-old boy is even refusing to eat those tasty things like pizza or sausages. Help!

Courage is a virtue that is hard to teach. You know you have it only when you face adversity or challenge. Photograph: iStockphoto

Part one of a new series with John Sharry looks at making your child brave

The key to managing the trip is to map out the different stages of the journey for them and make each one of these an exciting adventure. Photograph: iStockphoto

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Your son might feel he has to engage in the ritual of blowing his hands as a means of avoiding germs. Photograph: iStockphoto

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

The transition to secondary school can be a big challenge for many young people. Photograph: iStockphoto

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

While you are empathic with her about her worries, you also want to help her set boundaries around them so they don’t dominate her life. Photograph: iStockphoto

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Children who have experienced a trauma may not share all their feelings initially and will need to return to talk about it at various points. Photograph: Thinkstock

The other boy has left the school but our son still suffers from anxiety about going to school

By talking to your son in advance about your father dying, your son has time to prepare to say goodbye, maybe by making a final visit to see Grandad. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

There are particular trigger situations for young people with Tourette’s such as stressful situations or particular social situations. If you can identify these triggers with your son, you can explore different strategies he can employ to manage them.Photograph: Thinkstock

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Graphic images on TV tend to worry young children the most. As a parent, it is important that you protect your children from the impact of these bad news stories. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

It is important that as her mother, you continue to reassure her that you are okay with her father getting married. You want to remove her potential need to be ‘loyal’ to you and give her permission to accept the changes.  Photograph: Getty Images

If you have a parenting question, send your queries to health@irishtimes.com

Our youngest boy also has sensory processing disorder affecting his motor skills

Encourage your son to take time out to eat well and to include fruit and vegetables in his diet. Photograph: istockphoto

Many parents organise life around their ‘exam stressed’ young people

‘I work hard to establish a routine for our son . . . but every time his dad is home, this is disrupted. Photograph: Getty Images

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

The goal of positive training is to help your grandson gradually relearn to control his bowels. As his constipation clears, he will be able to tune into the signals from his body that his bowel is full so he can go to the toilet. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Any time a child starts to use a new technology, such as a smartphone,  as a parent you must take time to get to know the technology yourself first. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Dealing with high levels of anxiety and meltdowns is hard work for both children and parents, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to become anxious or stressed in response. Photograph: iStockphoto

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Tantrums: preschoolers are harder to reason with when they get upset compared with babies and toddlers

My son is throwing tantrums and is very strong so it is hard to force him to do anything

Lots of children and adults develop compulsive eating habits which are often kept secret or done in private. Photograph: Thinkstock

Our 10-year-old seems to collect sweets and treats from all sources and hoards them

There is a tendency for grandparents to spoil their grandchildren, often with sugary treats. Photograph: iStockphoto

My in-laws mind our children. Can I ban sweets from their house?

‘At times it can be helpful to play along with your daughter pretending to be a baby.’ Photograph: iStockphoto

If you have any parenting questions, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

A grumpy child can be a challenge, but there are strategies to help you – and him. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Avoid waiting until your son gets worked up before intervening. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Teenagers can benefit from having a different type of relationship with both parents, which can offer them two sources of support and two opportunities to talk. Photograph: Thinkstock

She spends a lot of her time moping around the house

“As a nation, as well as giving practical and concrete help, we need also to reach out to support the families who have experienced flooding.” Burgess Park in Athlone town  under water. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

We must ensure that those afflicted by floods get support, help and compassion

The hierarchy dynamic between twins and is very similar to the dynamic that can happen between two siblings in the same family who are close in age.

The elder boy has become more dominant and sometimes sets his brother up

When you witness a burst of self-criticism, it is first important to acknowledge your son’s feelings and help him understand them.

A lot of self-criticism happens around homework but he is doing well at school

When you become a parent, you can get bombarded by advice from ...everyone

Your goal as a parent is to help both your daughters develop as unique individuals while supporting them to continue to have a good relationship with each other. Photograph: Thinkstock

It is important to hold them both to account in resolving any conflicts that arise

Friendship challenges tend to peak for girls at about the age of 10 or 11, when the interest in friendships can be at its greatest, yet the girls have still not learnt all the necessary social skills or the ability to put things in perspective. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Many young people and adults are using technology so frequently that it is interfering in normal family relationships and it has replaced many other healthy childhood pursuits. Photograph: Thinkstock

Though the increased use of modern technology and the internet has brought many benefits, there have been a lot of downsides

Wakey wakey: The amount of sleep children need is individual and it could be that your early waking child is getting enough sleep overnight. Photograph: Thinkstock

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Being a parent of a young adult is about giving them space and recognising their privacy while being there for them when they need you. Photograph: ThinkStock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Decisions about the balance between parenting and career bring up your deepest values about what way you want to be as a parent and what you value as a person. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

If hair-stroking escalates to hair-pulling, it can result in thinning or bald patches especially if it is severe or continues over an extended period. Photograph: Thinkstock

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Sleep training requires a lot of patience and does not yield immediate results. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

It is important to channel the competitive drive appropriately in children, and to counterbalance it with an emphasis on sharing, teamwork and collective achievement. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

There is a lot you can do to improve your relationship with your son, and to transform the negative pattern that might have emerged.Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

‘You want your son to realise that he can talk to you if he is ever in difficulty.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Try to avoid flashpoints and so prevent problems in the first place. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Learning to get on with other children and manage conflict in the playground is a challenge for most children. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, email your question to health@irishtimes.com

Many parents are faced with a teenager who is not getting down to homework and questions the value of study altogether. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

A particular sensitivity to certain sensory experiences, such as noise, is a central component of many developmental disabilities such as attention deficit disorder, autistic spectrum disorder and dyspraxia.  Photograph: Thinkstock

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Get your girls away from the TV with a family health project. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Many sensitive children can become stressed by a ‘strict’ teacher. Photograph: Thinkstock Many sensitive children can become stressed by a ‘strict’ teacher. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

On the first day, follow the teacher’s lead about settling your child in the class, about how long to stay, and when to leave, and so on. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

It is very normal for sensitive children to become sad or upset over random incidents that don’t seem troublesome. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question for John Sharry, send it to health@irishtimes.com

When a couple express their disrespectful communication in public, it can be embarrassing and difficult to witness. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, please send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Bedwetting: it is believed the main cause of this in children over the age of four is constipation. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

The central issue is how your son might understand a potential diagnosis of OCD. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, email your question for John Sharry to health@irishtimes.com

With gentle patience all children will learn to use the toilet, though it might be a bit later than you might have expected. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Your daughter might feel that you favour her younger brother, and if you criticise her behaviour towards him she might feel that this is another sign that you prefer him, thus making the behaviour worse in the future. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

OCD behaviour: Your son might avoid ‘dirty cutlery’ because he believes if he eats from a dirty knife he will die. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

The key to overcoming anxiety is to help your daughter understand her feelings, to stop using avoidance, and to address the problems that are causing the anxiety. Photograph: Thinkstock

School refusal is a common problem that is very worrying for parents

Teaching your child an alternative habit, like using a stress ball, can help with nail biting. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, email your question for John Sharry to health@irishtimes.com

When the stress of exams seems too much, there are simple practices and procedures to ease it. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Before answering any question, ask your children what they might know already. For example, in an open curious tone, ask them: where did you hear about that? Photograph: Getty Images.

Give accurate and appropriate answers and do not be afraid to share your values

Whining time again: plan your responses to manage your child’s angry behaviours. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, email your question for John Sharry to health@irishtimes.com

To break the night-time pattern, it is important to be calm and largely silent, and ideally to reward him with your attention only when he has got back into his bed. Photograph: Thinkstock

In part three of his series on the importance of a good night’s sleep for families, John Sharry explores the challenge of helping (...)

The general recommendation is to have all screens turned off a good hour or two before sleep. Photograph: Thinkstock

Part two of this series on the importance of a good night’s sleep for families explores the challenge of technology and whether to(...)

When children throw tantrums and struggle with getting up in the morning, it usually means their bedtime is far too late. Photograph: Thinkstock

Ensuring children have a relaxing bedtime routine and get a good night’s sleep is crucial for a happy family life. (Part one of a (...)

If you do have a minor disagreement with your partner in front of your daughter, show her how you can resolve this positively, and then repair any upset and stay connected. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting query, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

Frequently, hair-pulling habits start out from a sensory event, for example, an itchy eyelash that your child gets into the habit of rubbing or pulling, even after the original itchiness is gone. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting question for John Sharry, send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Organising family events, such as First Communions, can be very stressful after separation. Photograph: Thinkstock

If you have a parenting problem, send your question to health@irishtimes.com

When tackling fears with children, such as a fear of dogs, the key is to go at their pace. Do not rush them.

Anxiety disorders are the most common child and teenage mental health problems. In the third of a three-part series, John Sharry a(...)

Anxiety about school is often a ‘social anxiety’, with worries about friendships or fitting in being at the heart of it: these anxieties are particularly heightened starting secondary school. Photograph: Thinkstock

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems for children and teenagers. In the second of a three-part series, Joh(...)

Simple things such as having regular breaks or even playing some music during study can all help your son be more relaxed. Photograph: Thinkstock

Anxiety disorders are the most common child and teenage mental health problems. Yet, because children with anxiety problems are fr(...)

As one of my boys is 12 and prepubescent, I’m concerned about telling him about his dad before he has established his own sexual identity. Photograph: Thinkstock

John Sharry helps solve your parenting problems. Send your queries to health@irishtimes.com

Children feel great relief once their worries are expressed and heard by others (and they are not thought ‘mad’ for having them). Photograph: Thinkstock

Rather than simply being a mental phenomenon, human emotions are always experienced in the body

You want to reduce gradually the support you give your daughter and help her relearn how to relax and fall asleep by herself. Photograph: Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Let John Sharry help. Send your parenting queries to health@irishtimes.com

John Sharry helps solve your parenting problems. Send your query to health@irishtimes.com

Think how best you can open a constructive conversation with your daughter about her behaviour at home. Photograph: Thinkstock Images

If you would like advice about parenting from John Sharry, please email your question to health@irishtimes.com

Is there anything we can do to help her calm down and accept her father? Photograph: Thinkstock Images

John Sharry helps solve your parenting problems

Don’t communicate through your kids or use them as a go-between. If you need to discuss something with their other parent, do so directly. Photograph: Thinkstock

These five steps for parents can help minimise a separation’s effects on children

Tell them about your addiction and recovery: children in particular can find this helpful. Photograph: Getty Images

I am now sober but it seems my wife and children have got on with life without me

It is important that parents demonstrate support for each other’s parenting decisions, especially in front of the children. Photograph: thinkstock

John Sharry helps a mother share the discipline role

Breastfeeding can be a big challenge for mothers going back to work. Photograph: Thinkstock

John Sharry advises a gradual approach to feeding when going back to work

There are virtual places that are more dangerous than the street corner

As a parent you have to be assertive and clued in to get the supports your child might need. Photograph: Thinkstock

"While there can be an emphasis on seeking a diagnosis for a child, many children with specific special needs don’t fit into any n(...)

The condition can range from mild to severe but diagnosis and treatments have improved greatly, helping people to live as normal a(...)

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