My partner is smoking again and I hate it

Q. I have been with my partner for eight years and we have a 12-month-old daughter together. The issue that really bothers me is that he started smoking again seven months ago even though he knows I hate it. He didn’t tell me at first and was hiding it from me before I found out – I could smell it off his breath though he tried to disguise it with mints. I am worried about his health as our baby’s father.

I’m dreading my first Christmas as a separated dad

Q. My wife and myself separated last February. We had not been getting on for several years and I finally moved out and now live with my father. I thought things might improve with us living apart, but in fact they seem to have got worse and it has been very hard the past year for me to see my two boys (four and six). Through the court, I have been granted weekend access and once during the week.

How do I stop my son being a sore loser?

Q. My son, who will be six at Christmas, is very competitive and this sometimes causes problems for him. He always wants to win and can be a really bad loser. He had a friend over the other day and he overturned a Snakes and Ladders game when he lost and went on to have a full blown meltdown. When he plays football, he always wants to be the best and gets into trouble with the coach for never sharing or passing.

Helping my child build a relationship with her absent father

Q. Could you provide guidance as to how to help my daughter, who is three and a half years old, deal with her dad re-entering her life after an absence of one year or so? We split up shortly after she was born and he had some contact limited to odd visits after that, before he moved away for a year or so for work.

My son is coming home drunk at night

How can I encourage healthy eating?

Q. I know what my children should be eating, but my question is how do you actually get them to eat healthy foods? I have two boys aged two and five and though they are not the worst in what they eat, there is still a lot to be desired. For example, my five year old almost never eats the dinners we have as adults and his diet is restricted to mainly eating pasta and bread.

Caught in bed by my 10-year-old daughter.

Q. My daughter, who is almost 11, walked in on my husband and me when we were having sex. It was late at night and we assumed she was asleep. It was all quite embarrassing and we are not sure how much she saw or how long she was there when we spotted her. In the moment, we were both very flustered and shouted for her to go back to her room.

How can I make more time for family?

Q. Both my wife and I are working parents and, like many, we are struggling to keep working, pay the bills and be good parents to our three children (three, six and seven). My business has taken a nose-dive over the past few years and now I have to work longer hours to make the same money. My wife works part-time and is busy minding the kids which is hard work.

As a working parent, how can I find more time for my kids?

Q. Like many mothers, I am trying to balance a busy full-time job with caring for my four children, aged three to 10 years old. I’m very aware of the need to give my children one-to-one attention though it is very hard to find the time. A particular challenge is when I get home from work in the evening and my four children clamour for my attention, sometimes crying and pushing each other out of the way to get to me, and it all can become stressful and pressured.

Are my children doing too many activities?

Q. How many extra-curricular activities should you take your children to? I have three children (five, seven and nine) and the week feels like one busy merry-

My teenager’s friends are a bad influence

Q. My 16-year-old daughter has fallen in with a group of friends who I think are a bad influence on her. She used to be a very positive girl and motivated in school and now she has an attitude, staying out late and she seems to only want to spend time with these other teenagers. They don’t go to the same school as her and some of them seem to be dropping out of school.

Help with play dates

Q. I am looking for some advice on helping my daughter, who is an only child, when she has her friends over to play. She has just started back in senior infants and lots of the girls in the class are visiting each other’s houses for play dates, and so on, and she has been asking about this. Up until last year I was working full-time but now I have reduced hours to three and a half days.

My husband gets angry with the kids

Q. My husband can get so angry with the children sometimes, especially when he is stressed and frustrated. He is otherwise a caring, involved dad and I don’t doubt that he loves our children. However, when they misbehave he can have a short fuse and ends up shouting and threatening them.

My five year old is acting like a baby

Q. I have two sons, a five year old and a 16 month old. When the younger was born we were happily surprised at how well our first child took to the new situation. Everything was going well until the baby was maybe five or six months old. However, since then, the five year old has been acting like a baby more and more. He uses baby talk and points to ask for things and gets easily upset if you don’t do what he wants.

My children are fighting all the time

Q. I have two boys. One is 26 months old and the other was four last week, and they seem to be squabbling and fighting all the time. In particular, the older boy seems to resent the younger one and won’t share any of his toys with him. They can’t seem to play together and any time I leave them alone they start to fight.

Our baby still wakes at night and we are exhausted.

Q. My 14-month-old son has never been a great sleeper but it seems to be worse lately. He tends to wake up at about 2am and finds it impossible to go back to sleep. We have tried staying in the room and patting his back and so on, and even bringing him into our bed. Although he might stop crying after being brought to our bed, he still finds it very difficult to settle and keeps tossing and turning and keeps us awake.

Does our active little boy have ADHD?

Q. My youngest child is three years 10 months old and has always been very active, on the go and into everything. We have to constantly watch him and be on his case and it is exhausting. My wife and I always put it down to him being a boy – he has three older sisters who are generally calmer and organised. However, when he started preschool last September he could not settle and we had to take him out.

How can we help our four year old do things for himself?

Q. My four-year-old son is very lazy about doing basic tasks such as dressing himself and is happy for me to do everything for him. When I try to get him to put his clothes on, he will moan and say he is tired or “can’t do it” and then it can end in a row between us. Even getting him to put on his shoes and coat when leaving the home involves more nagging.

Trichotillomania: Our daughter is pulling her hair out constantly.

Q. We have become very concerned about our daughter who is just 13 years old. She had become quite moody and argumentative as well as secretive and is spending lots of time in her room. We put it down to her becoming a teenager and we’re dealing with it as such. However, a few weeks ago I noticed that her hair had become thin in various places and that she had been going to great lengths to hide this.