The Alarming Teen Identity Crisis

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So here’s a new one – well, new for me anyway.

Every year there’s a new trend in school. Teens assert their social positions and maybe elbow a few peers off their pedestals on the way. It’s nothing new of course – a rite of passage, a task of adolescence. Normal. We all know what that looked and felt like when we were in school. We all remember (and some still feel) the pressure to keep up with trends. To avoid certain labels, to emulate others…

It’s tough going – remember? (Do try – because remembering will help you navigate your teen’s development. I know it was literally the last century ago but take a breath – see what comes up as you read this…)

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What are we teaching our teens?

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It was a Friday, and I was sitting on a desk in a school classroom, all excited. Friday had become my favourite day of the week, not because weekend, but because that was the day to deliver my personal development and sex education class to a bunch of sparkly bright teenagers. Fun guaranteed!

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Yes! Let’s talk about hormones (if we’re experts in the field)

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I usually avoid writing when I’m on leave but y’know sometimes you see something and you get the rages, and as a colleague said to me yesterday as we raged to each other – sometimes right is just right. And so you respond.

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What your teen won’t tell you

Sad teenager
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There was a girl in my class in school that I was pretty tight with. She wasn’t my bestest-in-the-world friend but I liked her and spent a good deal of time in her house at weekends and such. Especially when I started smoking.  I know, I know…

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My Daughter is Distressed: A Q&A

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Sometimes a parent mails me with a query about their anxious child.

Last week I received such a query. Her particular issue is such a common one at the moment (ungrateful nod to COVID!) that I asked permission to publish both her question and my response. There can be so much isolation, pressure and even shame around parenting that it can come as an enormous relief to find that another parent shares your experiences!

And of course these difficult feelings are exacerbated hugely in lockdown.

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The Best of a Brutal Year

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Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

F I N A L L Y … Can’t be much worse than the last!!


I’m left with a feeling of awe actually – at how we’ve managed to pull together and survive this, most of us. I’m sorry for those who have suffered loss – whatever form that loss took, and will continue to take.

So much loss…

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Poor Ollie the Otter, we’ll miss his soggy furry cuteness!

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He was “just” an otter. But when Ollie started dining regularly in Youghal we were all excited and more than a little flattered. There’s something about an animal’s visit isn’t there? A sense of trust, an unspoken bond between living creatures that somehow crosses boundaries set by species, genes, chromosomes… but what a cutie…

photo credit Marshall Hadin (not Ollie, one of his cousins)

Did he think we were cute I wonder? He probably thought we were ridiculous with our clothes and cars and lack of fur…

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Blaming the Teenagers

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This was published in both the Irish Times and The Irish Examiner. I wrote this in response to growing concerns and media coverage of teenagers and their behaviours. As a psychologist who works with teens I wanted to address adult behaviour and how that impacts teen behaviour. Teen behaviour cannot and must not be seen as an isolated phenomenon. Continue reading