The 1% Podcast

David Coleman


  • 01

    David Coleman

    How to Raise Happy and Successful Children


My guest today is David Coleman.


Dr David Coleman is a clinical psychologist who specialises in children, teenagers, and emotional and psychological development. David is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Psychology in UCD.

He has over 20 years experience in child psychology and has used this expertise in his regular parenting segment on Today with Claire Byrne on Radio 1 and his column in the Irish Independent. David has hosted a number of Irish television shows and documentaries down through the years. These include Families in Trouble, 21st Century Child, Teens in the Wild and Families in the Wild. David won an IFTA for his documentary Bullyproof in 2013.

David’s three books were all bestsellers – ‘Parenting is Child’s Play’, ‘Parenting is Child’s Play: The Teenage Years’ and ‘The Thriving Family’.

He also runs two courses – ‘Scared Kids’ which helps children suffering with anxiety and ‘Headspace Adventures’ which is an adventure therapy programme for teenagers.

Tune in as we discuss building self-esteem and independence, dealing with bullying, and embracing mistakes.


Show Summary



3:30 Being close to nature

  • Helps to cope with lockdown
  • The psychology of green and blue colours
  • Sense of grounding and connectivity
  • A break from technology
  • Renewed appreciation for nature since Covid-19
  • Power walking in nature
  • The power of pause


12:30 What drew David to psychology

  • Attended at Jesuit school: “being a man for others” philosophy
  • Discovered his interest in writing when studying psychology
  • Pursuing clinical psychology
  • The role of psychology is to make it accessible to people
  • Working with teenagers
  • Humans are always searching for meaning
  • Working with people during lockdown


18:00 Building trust with teenagers

  • Make them feel heard
  • Empathy, tone of voice and reflective language
  • “If you feel listened to, you tend to talk more”
  • Difficulty of Zoom therapy sessions, e.g. eye contact


22:17 The success of his documentary ‘Bullyproof’

  • Won an IFTA
  • Made television programmes in the past
  • To provide a broader understanding of bullying
  • Toxic environment of social media


26:27 Creating the right environment for observational documentaries

  • Discrediting the Stanford prison experiment 
  • Giving time for people to get used to the observational style
  • Help them to not put on a show
  • Filming ‘Teens in the Wild’


29:00 Advice for a child that is bullied, and advice or steps that parents can take if it happens

  • Explore the nature of the bullying: verbal, physical or online
  • A bully will always move to the easiest target
  • Ignoring and recording the online bullying


33:39 Long-term effects of bullying

  • Self-esteem comes from feeling loved and capable
  • A therapist helps review how people look at themselves
  • We often internalise someone else’s view of themself
  • Rebuilding self-esteem and capacity to deal with it


38:06 Helping to foster confidence in children and teenagers

  • Difference between confidence and self-esteem
  • “If you have high self-esteem, you will be confident”
  • Support through the quality of your listening
  • Helping them recognise their strengths and capabilities
  • Showing that mistakes are opportunities to learn, not criticise


41:38 The effect on people if they feel they weren’t loved when they were brought up

  • Theories of attachment: secure attachments come from trust, insecure attachments come from inconsistencies and lack of trust
  • When working with parents, David helps them return to being predictable and consistent
  • Dan Siegel’s “Flipping Your Lid”


44:59 Impact of attachment from all types of parenting roles, e.g. same-sex, father, etc

  • The principles are the same for all parents
  • Most research in the past has been focused on mothers, as they were the the most common primary caregivers
  • Mary Ainsworth’s research: it’s about what happens when re-attached, not seperated
  • Learning from his own experiences as a father
  • Children easily pick up their parent’s anxieties
  • “We need to feel that what we’re doing is working”
  • The calm vs frozen chicken analogy
  • Review your self-contradictions


56:02 What makes a ‘happy’ child?

  • An emotionally literate child: what we really want is for them to regulate their feelings
  • Able to process negative emotions
  • Role of positive parenting


59:35 Disciplining a child

  • Being present with a child
  • Help them to avoid the need to punish their behaviour
  • Discipline them with natural consequences
  • “Harsh discipline methods are always damaging on children”
  • Why is it important to you?” – it’s often about us trying to meet our own needs


1:06:40 How to support your child when they’re anxious

  • Provide the emotional infrastructure
  • Have the time and space
  • Parents are also very distracted
  • Empower them to regulate their anxieties
  • Enable to learn by themselves


1:13:10 What can we do, as parents, to help our children adapt and be successful?

  • What are your expectations?
  • Most common missing piece is being understanding in a kind way
  • Thomas Edison’s light bulb attempts
  • Culture of risk-taking and mistakes
  • “We have become risk-averse on behalf of our kids”


1:18:19 Role of empathy

  • Using empathy statements
  • It can often get confused with sympathy
  • “Willingness to see the person’s world”
  • Parents are too fixated on fixing the problems
  • Children disregard unasked for advice


1:25:32 How your relationship with your children changes

  • “Once they’ve gone past the baby stage, it’s about letting go”
  • Instil independence: that’s our goal
  • Give children a chance that they can be trusted


1:30:05 The striking the right balance between working from home together and being a family

  • Make a clear working space
  • “You just have to do what you can”


1:34:03 Impact of teenagers and children’s re-socialising post-Covid

  • The biggest impact is their best friend, not overall peer group
  • Very sensitive when intervening with a ‘bad’ best friend


1:38:41 Launch of Headspace Ventures

  • Opportunity for young people to find their strengths in the outdoors
  • Both physical and mental activities


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