Parenting & Family Tools by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Sep 29

What is in your Parenting Toolbox? A study on the most widely used parenting tool revealed that most parents use time-out or spanking to discipline their children. When asked how effective their primary tool was only 1/3 stated that it worked consistently for them. That left 66.9% that felt it didn’t work. Why use a tool that doesn’t work? Because parents don’t know what else to do…
This is the mission and goal of the Ron Huxley’s Parenting Toolbox: To give parents the right tools to do the job of parenting.
What works for you? Share with us by clicking the comment button or go to Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox
or share with us on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ronhuxley

What is in your Parenting Toolbox? A study on the most widely used parenting tool revealed that most parents use time-out or spanking to discipline their children. When asked how effective their primary tool was only 1/3 stated that it worked consistently for them. That left 66.9% that felt it didn’t work. Why use a tool that doesn’t work? Because parents don’t know what else to do…

This is the mission and goal of the Ron Huxley’s Parenting Toolbox: To give parents the right tools to do the job of parenting.

What works for you? Share with us by clicking the comment button or go to Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

or share with us on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ronhuxley

Sep 26

Playing favorites: play a game today with your children about “favorites” by asking what is their favorite ice cream, color, birthday surprise, book, animal, family activities, etc.  Learn more about your child and yourself.

Sep 12

Sep 06

Building Community Resilience for Children and Families is a guidebook that provides information about building community resilience, helping communities improves their capacity to respond effectively to natural or man-made disasters or acts of terrorism. To be most effective, community plans must address the emotional well-being of residents, including children. Putting strategies in place before an incident occurs enhances the community’s ability to improve its outcomes after an event.

Building Community Resilience for Children and Families is a guidebook that provides information about building community resilience, helping communities improves their capacity to respond effectively to natural or man-made disasters or acts of terrorism. To be most effective, community plans must address the emotional well-being of residents, including children. Putting strategies in place before an incident occurs enhances the community’s ability to improve its outcomes after an event.

Sep 05

“New Social Skills Group for Kids: Visit our new page on how to improve your child’s social skills at http://parentingtoolbox.tumblr.com/skills-4-kids or go to our special url at http://Skills-4-Kids.com

Sep 03

"He Never Acts This Way At School!"By Ron Huxley
"The energy which makes a child hard to manage is the energy which afterward makes him a manager of life." — Henry Ward Beecher"
by Ron Huxley, LMFTHave you ever heard a parent say this or perhaps said it yourself? Why do some children misbehave at home and not other settings, like school? While the opposite situation might be true, where the child misbehaves at school and not home, let’s look at this common parenting frustration.Teaching is a good definition of balanced discipline. In fact, the word discipline comes from the root word “disciplinare”, which means to teach or instruct. Most parents understand discipline as reducing inappropriate behaviors (punishment) instead of helping children achieve competence, self-control, self-direction, and social skills. Of course, all parents want this. But reinforcing appropriate behaviors seems like a luxury or fantasy when parents are having problems with their children. One reason for this may be the act of juggling work and family that so many contemporary parents find themselves performing. In this situation, only the most annoying or irritating behaviors are sure to get a parents attention. Children quickly learn that good behavior or even quiet, self-directed behavior rarely gets the attention of overloaded parents. Good behavior is one less thing a parent has to deal with while bad behavior guarantee parents attention. This is what educators and therapists call “negative attention” - a powerful reinforcer of children’s misbehavior.So when parents say their child doesn’t misbehave in school, perhaps we should investigate the school/teaching model a little closer to see what frustrated parents can use when disciplining their children. Of course, as any teacher will admit, perfect behavior from children never occurs at school or anywhere else. But, let’s compare school behaviors to home discipline and ask a few questions.Schools are learning environments. Discipline requires a learning environment characterized by positive, nurturing parent-child relationships. Is your home a learning environment or an entertainment center? Are their books, activities and private spaces for children?Teachers use a curriculum. Discipline occurs when a plan or structure is in place for children. Do you know what you want to teach your children? What values or ideas do you want your children to believe? Is there a set time or routine for learning these things? Are you available to the child for help and instruction? Do you have materials available to educate you about topics you want to teach your children? Are there regular discussions about daily responsibilities, spiritual ideas, personal dreams, and problem areas? Grades are used to evaluate a child’s progress in school. Discipline can be both an instruction and a measurement of children’s behavior. What grade would you give your child in hygiene, social ability, responsibility, etc.? What rewards (physical or verbal) are given for “A” grades? Are parent-child conferences held to discuss strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for improvement? Do children get regular feedback from parents on how they are doing at home?Teachers are in charge of the classroom and model appropriate behavior. Discipline is most effective when parents remember that they are the leaders of the home and “practice what they preach.” Are you firm and consistent in your discipline with your children? Do you model appropriate behavior for your children? Do you give the things, to your children, that you ask for, from your children, such as respect? Do you say what you mean rather than threaten or bribe children? Do you have a list of rules posted where children can see them? Do you allow children to “raise their hands” and ask questions? Do you listen attentively to those questions and give an appropriate answer?Children, in schools, are given opportunities to explore and understand the world and themselves. Discipline is about internal control and not just external control. Do you give your child choices that require him or her to think about consequence? Are children recognized for behaving in an appropriate manner? Are there any “field trips” that children go on to inspire, instruct, or experience appropriate behavior? Are children give opportunities to act in a responsible and trustworthy manner? Are children encouraged to help their siblings and work as teams? Are there any parties for celebrating hard work?Classrooms have rules that children must follow. Are their assigned seats at the dinner table or car? Are there any rules about waiting, talking, and seeking help? Do children get to “line up first” or “pass out the snacks” for exemplary behaviors? Are consequences given for inappropriate behaviors? Do children get warnings about misbehavior? Do children get to go to recess when they misbehave? Are the rules discussed with the children, posted where everyone can see them, and frequently reviewed?Schools have recesses, school holidays, and summer breaks. Discipline is about doing nothing as much as it is about doing something. Do you allow your child to make mistakes and decide difficult (but not dangerous) situations on their own? Are there healthy balances between fun and chores, rest and responsibilities, work-time and playtime? Do you allow your child to simply be a child? Are developmental expectations appropriate to the age and abilities of your child? Do you allow yourself to be off-duty by having other adults to watch over your children? Are plans made, in family meetings, for fun as a family? Is quality time a regular part of your time with your children?While this may not cover all aspects of school routines or discipline practices, it does ask some very reflective questions. It is possible we missed the most basic reason for children’s different behaviors, namely, novel situations and conditional love. Novel situations refer to a phenomenon that affects a child’s behavior, for good, when in a new environment. A new environment is unpredictable and may require a child to be on his or her best behavior until the child learns what the rules and consequences are or what they can get away with. Home is often predictable. The child already knows what they can or cannot get away with.Conditional love refers to the communication of worth a child will get from another individual based on their behavior. A teacher may only consider certain behaviors to be worthy of his or her love and care. At the root, this is a good strategy. It advocates reinforcing only positive behaviors and ignoring negative behavior. But the fruit of it can have devastating consequences for children’s self esteem. A child’s sense of self should never be based on conditions. A child is worthy of love, dignity, and worth regardless of what they do. Reinforcement and even approval can be placed on a child’s behavior to communicate what is appropriate or inappropriate. A child may not feel this conditional love at home, knowing that mom will always love him or her and so manipulate this to their advantage.Take a few moments to review these questions. If you are one of those parents who have said, “My child never behaves this way at school?” maybe now, you can finally find out why, and be able to say your child behaves appropriately at home as well as school.

"He Never Acts This Way At School!"
By Ron Huxley

"The energy which makes a child hard to manage is the energy which afterward makes him a manager of life." — Henry Ward Beecher"

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Have you ever heard a parent say this or perhaps said it yourself? Why do some children misbehave at home and not other settings, like school? While the opposite situation might be true, where the child misbehaves at school and not home, let’s look at this common parenting frustration.

Teaching is a good definition of balanced discipline. In fact, the word discipline comes from the root word “disciplinare”, which means to teach or instruct. Most parents understand discipline as reducing inappropriate behaviors (punishment) instead of helping children achieve competence, self-control, self-direction, and social skills. Of course, all parents want this. But reinforcing appropriate behaviors seems like a luxury or fantasy when parents are having problems with their children. One reason for this may be the act of juggling work and family that so many contemporary parents find themselves performing. In this situation, only the most annoying or irritating behaviors are sure to get a parents attention. Children quickly learn that good behavior or even quiet, self-directed behavior rarely gets the attention of overloaded parents. Good behavior is one less thing a parent has to deal with while bad behavior guarantee parents attention. This is what educators and therapists call “negative attention” - a powerful reinforcer of children’s misbehavior.

So when parents say their child doesn’t misbehave in school, perhaps we should investigate the school/teaching model a little closer to see what frustrated parents can use when disciplining their children. Of course, as any teacher will admit, perfect behavior from children never occurs at school or anywhere else. But, let’s compare school behaviors to home discipline and ask a few questions.

Schools are learning environments. Discipline requires a learning environment characterized by positive, nurturing parent-child relationships. Is your home a learning environment or an entertainment center? Are their books, activities and private spaces for children?

Teachers use a curriculum. Discipline occurs when a plan or structure is in place for children. Do you know what you want to teach your children? What values or ideas do you want your children to believe? Is there a set time or routine for learning these things? Are you available to the child for help and instruction? Do you have materials available to educate you about topics you want to teach your children? Are there regular discussions about daily responsibilities, spiritual ideas, personal dreams, and problem areas? Grades are used to evaluate a child’s progress in school. Discipline can be both an instruction and a measurement of children’s behavior. What grade would you give your child in hygiene, social ability, responsibility, etc.? What rewards (physical or verbal) are given for “A” grades? Are parent-child conferences held to discuss strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for improvement? Do children get regular feedback from parents on how they are doing at home?

Teachers are in charge of the classroom and model appropriate behavior. Discipline is most effective when parents remember that they are the leaders of the home and “practice what they preach.” Are you firm and consistent in your discipline with your children? Do you model appropriate behavior for your children? Do you give the things, to your children, that you ask for, from your children, such as respect? Do you say what you mean rather than threaten or bribe children? Do you have a list of rules posted where children can see them? Do you allow children to “raise their hands” and ask questions? Do you listen attentively to those questions and give an appropriate answer?

Children, in schools, are given opportunities to explore and understand the world and themselves. Discipline is about internal control and not just external control. Do you give your child choices that require him or her to think about consequence? Are children recognized for behaving in an appropriate manner? Are there any “field trips” that children go on to inspire, instruct, or experience appropriate behavior? Are children give opportunities to act in a responsible and trustworthy manner? Are children encouraged to help their siblings and work as teams? Are there any parties for celebrating hard work?

Classrooms have rules that children must follow. Are their assigned seats at the dinner table or car? Are there any rules about waiting, talking, and seeking help? Do children get to “line up first” or “pass out the snacks” for exemplary behaviors? Are consequences given for inappropriate behaviors? Do children get warnings about misbehavior? Do children get to go to recess when they misbehave? Are the rules discussed with the children, posted where everyone can see them, and frequently reviewed?

Schools have recesses, school holidays, and summer breaks. Discipline is about doing nothing as much as it is about doing something. Do you allow your child to make mistakes and decide difficult (but not dangerous) situations on their own? Are there healthy balances between fun and chores, rest and responsibilities, work-time and playtime? Do you allow your child to simply be a child? Are developmental expectations appropriate to the age and abilities of your child? Do you allow yourself to be off-duty by having other adults to watch over your children? Are plans made, in family meetings, for fun as a family? Is quality time a regular part of your time with your children?

While this may not cover all aspects of school routines or discipline practices, it does ask some very reflective questions. It is possible we missed the most basic reason for children’s different behaviors, namely, novel situations and conditional love. Novel situations refer to a phenomenon that affects a child’s behavior, for good, when in a new environment. A new environment is unpredictable and may require a child to be on his or her best behavior until the child learns what the rules and consequences are or what they can get away with. Home is often predictable. The child already knows what they can or cannot get away with.

Conditional love refers to the communication of worth a child will get from another individual based on their behavior. A teacher may only consider certain behaviors to be worthy of his or her love and care. At the root, this is a good strategy. It advocates reinforcing only positive behaviors and ignoring negative behavior. But the fruit of it can have devastating consequences for children’s self esteem. A child’s sense of self should never be based on conditions. A child is worthy of love, dignity, and worth regardless of what they do. Reinforcement and even approval can be placed on a child’s behavior to communicate what is appropriate or inappropriate. A child may not feel this conditional love at home, knowing that mom will always love him or her and so manipulate this to their advantage.

Take a few moments to review these questions. If you are one of those parents who have said, “My child never behaves this way at school?” maybe now, you can finally find out why, and be able to say your child behaves appropriately at home as well as school.

International Adoption: a local family’s story of growing By Stephanie Robusto CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – After reading about the orphan crisis in Africa, it didn’t take the Crawford family long to decide to adopt from Ethiopia. But their journey is far from over. “Our motivation was never if we could have biological or not, it was more than that,” explained Victor Crawford, the proud father of two boys. They explain part of their reason was simple human nature. “We evaluated what our faith really looks like in the real world. Showing compassion and love, that’s our motivation,” said Crawford.

Another reason for adopting internationally came from Crawford spending time abroad during a mission trip. Adoption wasn’t something the couple originally planned on. But spending time in the orphanages of Honduras opened their eyes to an international need. “They have basic needs; a roof, food, and love. We want to provide that,” said Crawford. Now, the Crawford’s are defining what it means to be a blended family. They adopted their first son, Josiah, from Guatemala when he was about 4 years old. A few years later, they had a biological son named Miles. Biological or not, the two boys are brothers. They want to continue growing their blended family. “When Miles got to the age where we thought we could handle another one, we thought ‘let’s start this journey, start this process again,”explained Crawford.

That journey first began here in the states, with the Crawfords trying to adopt in America. “But after three years of no placement, we decided to move forward again with international,” explained Victor’s wife, Robin Crawford. When they learned about the need in Ethiopia, the couple decided to double their family. “We found two brothers, two siblings who needed a home,”said Crawford. “The oldest is 8, the youngest is 3. They’ve been in an orphanage for about 8 months. Their biological father passed away,” explained Mrs. Crawford. Legally, the two boys are already part of the family. But it will be weeks until they are united as a family under one roof.

The waiting has Robin Crawford feeling like an expectant mother. It’s hard for her knowing they are her babies, but she doesn’t have them home with her, yet. “It’s very difficult, it’s something that consumes you all the time,” she expressed. The family recently met the brothers in Ethiopia. They are waiting for the U.S. Embassy to decide a date they can go back again, and hope this time, the boys will be coming back home with them.

To read more about the family, visit their website here:CrawfordsJourney.com Copyright 2013 WMBF News.All rights reserved. Share: / /

Aug 27

Take your parenting measurements…

Does your child have so many problems that you don’t know where to start? Are you so frustrated that you can’t see or think straight? Do you feel helpless about how to make changes in your relationship with your child? Perhaps the first place to start is with a few measurements. When behaviorists study people’s behavior, they start with a baseline. A baseline is a tool that is used to measure the frequency and duration of someone’s specific behavior. It can be used to measure the frequency and duration of both desirable and undesirable behavior. This dual measurement can tell parents what they want to increase and what they want to decrease, all without a lot of screaming, hair pulling, or medication!

Step 1: Measure without interventions.

The first step in determining a baseline is to measure a child’s behavior when no intervention or tool is being used with the child. This way parents can get an accurate estimation of the child’s behavior. Baselines will allow a parent to measure the effectiveness of a particular parenting tool they are using. If a parent discovers that a tool is not getting the desirable results (i.e., the misbehavior continues at the same level as before or is much worse), then the parent knows to abandon this approach and try another. Parents then find a different tool to use that gets them better results.Sounds easy, huh! Actually it isn’t, but with a little practice parents can use baselines to objectively and rationally approach a behavior problem and change it.

Step 2: Basic materials and picking a behavior.

The next step is to gather a few basic materials: a piece of graph paper, pencil, and daily calendar. Write across the top of the graph paper the behavior you wish to increase or decrease. For example, you might write: “I want to increase the number of times that Tommy takes his bath on time” or “I want to decrease the number of times that Mary hits her little brother.” Picking the behavior may not be as easy at it sounds. You must pick one behavior to focus on and not get confused with other problems at home. Be very specific about what you want to increase or decrease. Don’t write: “I want Tommy to behave.” That is too general and vague. You will never achieve that anyway, so why frustrate you and Tommy. Pick a behavior that is particularly troublesome and/or dangerous to start. To get a baseline, simply count how many times a day that particular behavior is occurring for one week. Average it on a per day basis by taking your weekly total and divide it by seven (days of the week). That will be your baseline. Let’s say that you want Tommy to take his bath, on time, every day. At this time, Tommy only takes his bath, one time, once per week. One is your baseline. Anything you use to increase this frequency will be considered effective. Anything that does not or reduces it to zero, is not effective. After you have picked the behavior, use the bottom of the paper to list the days of the week from the calendar (Sunday, Monday… Saturday). Along the left side of the paper you will write a range of numbers, starting from the bottom and going up. The range could be from zero to ten, if the behavior you are targeting is a low frequency problem or zero to hundred, if it is a high frequency problem. I would suggest sticking with a low frequency problem. It will make the process simpler and easier to monitor.

Step 3: Pick a tool (intervention).

Now comes the fun part: picking the tool. What will you use to increase or decrease your child’s behavior? You could do what you have always done, like Time-Out or Removing Privileges. Or you could read up on a couple of books, ask a wise friend or teacher, or search the Internet, looking for various interventions to try. Regardless of where you go for your tools, choose only one. Use the tool of choice for a period of one week and faithfully measure how many times a day that behavior occurs with the application of the tool. Be sure that all caregivers (moms, dads, relatives, day care staff, etc.) use the same tool or you will not get a good measurement. In fact, if dad is doing one thing and mom another, you could be sabotaging each other’s efforts. Get everyone on the bandwagon and cooperating. Chart the number of times the behavior occurs (its frequency per day) and the time that it occurred. In order to see if change has occurred, parents must check to see if there is any difference between the baseline number, before any intervention was made, and the number of occurrences after an intervention is made. This final number should come close to your target number.

Let’s take another look at Tommy and his bath time. Mom and dad decided to take away Tommy’s television privileges if he did not get in the bath on time each day. They did this by simply stating the consequence ten minutes before bath time to give him time to prepare. If Tommy did not get in the bath on time (they gave him a five minute window of opportunity either way) they stated that there would be no television privileges the next morning and stuck to their decision. After a couple of days, Tommy realized that mom and dad were serious about this bath time business and decided to cooperate. He was able to get in the bath, on time, three times in one week, as a result of mom and dad’s new interventions. This was a definite increase from the baseline and considered successful by everyone. Don’t worry if the change doesn’t occur immediately. Children test their parents to see if they will be consistent with these new interventions or if parents are going to fall back to old, inconsistent ways of disciplining. One to two weeks may be needed to witness any real results. If the behavior is still not changing after that period of time, find a new tool. It is also important that you be consistent. Inconsistency will reward the behavior in the wrong direction.

What if one parent is willing to cooperate but the other is not? This makes our task harder but not impossible. Simple measure during a time that you are able to control, say, during the daytime when dad is at work. Obviously, you must pick a target behavior that occurs during that time period and find a tool that you can administer alone. Children will adapt to the different parenting styles of their parents, even if they are exact opposites. Reward all positive, behavioral changes. This will help to maintain the behavior over a long period of time. Don’t resort to bribes, such as sweets, money, or toys. This will backfire on you. Use social praise, like: “Great job” or “I really appreciated how you did that.” This is usually sufficient for children. Any negative behavior should be ignored, as much as possible.

How long should you use the baseline tool? Use the tool for as long as you need. Once you are getting positive results from your new tool, you can go on to targeting a new behavior or put the chart away until it is needed again. Behavior tools, like the baseline, have some limitations. Very smart children see your strategy and try to go around it or do as they are asked, during the specific time it is asked, and then immediately misbehave right after. For example, Tommy may get into the bath on time so that he can watch his favorite television programs, but right after the bath, he may become rude and obnoxious to his little sister. This is a weakness in the tool, not you. Ignore the weakness for now. All you are concerned with is increasing getting into the bath on time. Later you will address, with the baseline tool, the rude behavior. The value of this parenting tool is in its ability to get a baseline measure of a child’s behavior and to test the validity of the parenting tools your are using. It allows you to cope with feelings of frustration and target behavior objectively and without negative attention to the child. This allows the parent and the child to concentrate on more enjoyable activities together.

Aug 24

[video]

School Daze

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Some children find school an exhilarating challenge, while others are overwhelmed. Parents of young children can help them by being more involved in school. If you have the time or a flexible work schedule, you can participate in the classroom one day a week. This affords you the opportunity to observe your child and to help the teacher, who probably has his or her hands full. You can see what problems your child has adjusting to the school routines and find ways, by modeling the teacher, to help your child. Your presence also gives the younger child a feeling of security to know mom or dad is close by. Unfortunately some parents do not have this flexibility to take off a day and participate in their child’s classroom. You can still stay involved by attending parent/teacher conferences, calling the teacher periodically to see how your child is doing, and keeping informed about overall school events as well as your child’s individual performance.

Parents can also reduce their child’s school daze by helping them learn good study skills and overcome homework malaise. Self-discipline can be a difficult trait to build, but it is crucial to academic success. While IQ is important, a child’s feeling of confidence in herself and her ability to master a subject is also critically important. Make sure your child knows how to study and finds it a positive, rewarding experience. You can do this by using the “Homework Hassles” parenting tool. In addition, you should encourage children’s natural curiosity to learn. Provide opportunities to discover new things. Get excited about your child’s projects, both at home and school. Post school work on the refrigerator door as if they are pieces of famous artwork. And talk regularly with your child about his feelings about school. Is he afraid of another student? Does he think the teacher is nice or mean? What is it like riding the bus, or eating school cafeteria food, or playing at recess? Who are his friends and why does he like them? Even busy parents can find time for these discussions.

Use communication parenting tools to validate a child’s feelings about school without getting caught up in them at the same time. Remember that empathizing with a child (hearing about feelings and acknowledging their validity) is different from sympathizing with a child (feeling what they feel, be it mad, overwhelmed, or dazed). The former allows the parent to help solve problems while the latter get parents caught up emotionally in the problem.