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Parenting & Family Tools by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Are you the type of parent you thought you would be? Has your family turned out like you dreamed? If not, let Ron Huxley and the resources of the Parenting Toolbox help you heal and restore that dream family today.

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Inner Healing

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I handed everyone at the table a rubber band and told them to put it around their wrists like a bracelet.

We slipped it on as we finished dinner and I read these instructions from our dinner time devotional:  Every time you grumble or complain, snap your rubber band. 

photo

The day before we memorized John 6:43, “Stop grumbling among yourselves.”

Guess who got the first “pop?”

My kids laughed as the first complaint rolled off my tongue just minutes after reading our assignment. I wasn’t even trying to show them an example of what not to do. I didn’t even know I was going to grumble about cleaning up our dinner mess. Because sometimes complaining is just our second nature.

Ouch.

I rubbed my wrist and watched my words.

We all did. Our 24 hour experiment proved to leave our wrists a little tender and our tongues a little more controlled.

We were listening for the bemoaning and bellyaching. We pointed out when we heard each other complain.

The most important thing this experiment did? It made us think before we spoke. It made us more aware.

Grumbling comes too easy. And when we try not to do it, we see how often we whine or complain–about each other, about our situations, about what we have and what we don’t.

When we really get a good look at what’s underneath all those negative words, we find ingratitude.

Because let’s face it:  we probably all can find something to gripe about. But when we think before we speak, we can always find something to be thankful for.

the happiest people

Try this simple lesson today (and if rubber bands won’t work for you, keep tally marks on the kitchen calendar or cheerios around a yarn bracelet and break one off with every complaint).

 Here’s what a lesson in complaining less does for all of us:

1. It forces us to admit how often we grumble or whine or speak negatively about ourselves or others

2. It causes us to think before we speak

3. It gives us the opportunity to choose gratitude over grumbling.

And while this lesson won’t necessarily rid our homes of complaining (ask me how I know), it will certainly give us something to (think) and talk about.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

The Fourth “F” of Trauma
By Ron Huxley, LMFT

When I work with traumatized people, I always keep in mind that they have one of three reactions: Fight, Flight and Freeze. These are primal brain mechanisms that manage threats to the self. Each type of reaction has its intervention but at the core of these interventions is the fourth “F”: Fusion.

Trauma disrupts relationships and self/other organization. At extreme levels it can cause dissociative disorders (what we used to call Multiple Personality Disorders) splitting off internal parts of the self in an effort to survive and function. At milder levels it can cause us to build defenses or social masks that allow us to get through our days despite feelings of pain or loss. Either we are not acting out of our true self. We also have difficulties with others manifesting by poor intimacy, commitment fears, unmanageable anger, feelings of anxiety and depression.

What we want to achieve is fusion. A fusion of self and personality and a fusion of relationships (self with other). This is easy said than done but it is possible. It is not hopeless as we once thought. The real challenge is trying to help others who are in a state of fight, flight or freeze without ourselves going into a similar state. Staying “fused” in our emotions, in the face trauma, is hard!

Adopted and Angry

Q and A with Ron Huxley, LMFT

Dear Ron,

How do we discipline our 8-year old (adopted) son? He is extremely angry, at times violent and aggressive and has been since about 4 years old. We have seen therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, etc. We have tried it all, from medicine to discipline (time out, spanking, withdraw privileges, positive reinforcement, redirection, isolation (in his room), writing sentences, physical activities) and none of it makes any difference to him.

Up until recently, all his anger has been directed only at us, his parents. However, this week he hit a boy with his hat, on the school bus. The consequence is a warning from the principal. Next time he’ll be removed from the bus and no longer allowed to ride it. He is extremely smart, socially immature, and very much likes to be in control - of everything, even us. We need help.

Signed,

Adopted and angry

Ron replies:

Dear Adopted and Angry,

I find that it is helpful to break things down into manageable chunks when overwhelmed by parenting problems. You have very complex case here that involves multiple issues, some of which are workable and others that may not be. Here are the various issues I read in your question: Adoption, child development, aggressive behavior, professional help, behavioral modification, parenting hurts, peer relationships, control issues, and desperation.

I threw that last one in there as semi-jest, semi-truth. You are obviously very frustrated and at the end of your proverbial rope. This permeates everything else you have said and everything you will try to do with your son. This frustration may sabotage your efforts and shorten your ability to fully modify his behavior. You are using some great behavior modification techniques (time out, withdraw privileges, reinforcement, etc.) and I would urge you to continue to use them. But, behavior modification has limitations, especially if you are already experiencing your limitations with your son. In fact, it is possible you are reinforcing him negatively to continue.

The biggest issue you have listed, in my opinion, is adoption. Adopted children come into our families wounded on a spiritual or deeply psychological level. Some people call this the “Mother Wound.” The feeling of being “given up” for adoption, even in the best of circumstances, to the best of families, is a difficult issue for children to cope with. This can be even more difficult if there are other biological children in the home and if there is a dramatic physical difference between children. It is also affected by how adoptive parents handle the whole adoption issue with their adoptive children.

Another related issue with adoptive children is genetics. Parents often don’t know a lot about an adoptive child’s family history and genetic make-up. Mental illness in your child’s family tree may be a big, unknown factor here, and this may not be about behavior, per se, but a genetic problem. If you haven’t already investigated this, I would encourage you to do so. It will help you and the professionals you are working with you to deal with this problem.

Given that you already have a host of professional helpers on your side and you have a good knowledge of behavioral techniques, I would suggest that you focus more on helping your child heal from the spiritual or psychological wounds of adoption. Anger is rarely the real issue in children. What’s under all that rage? What fuels his aggression? How can you answer the main issue of hurt and loss that makes him resistant to change?

What we are really talking about is love. True, unconditional love. The fact that he targets you, his parents, with his rage demonstrates his sense of safety. I know this is confusing but angry/aggressive children usually vent at those they know will not abandon them. And adoptive children are highly sensitive to abandonment. You must reassure, love, and embrace him every time he attacks. This is the only way you can answer his violent test (“Will you give me up, too, or will you keep me no matter how ‘unlovable’ I am?”). Let your behavior modification set the limits on his behavior and let the embrace of your arms be the limits on his spirit).

Blessings,

Ron Huxley, LMFT

Beneath my father’s sky - With interview . An adopted woman searches for her father by Zara Phillips Zara Phillips)

17 Hugs A Day




My wife and I have a joke that we tell each other and family members: It takes a minimum of 17 hugs a day to feel normal. I will confess that there is no scientific research that supports 17 hugs per day therapy…at least not yet. Nevertheless, we have come to recognize that need for touch and have adopted the idea that hugs, at least 17 is what gets us through the daily life hassles. At a recent conference on Attachment Theory, where there was some real scientific data, a presenter on PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that stated that data suggests that the little stressors of everyday living can add up to the same effects of someone who has undergone a single, major life trauma, like a robbery or death of a loved one or car accident.

We let these little incidents of life go by without any real concern. Perhaps we feel embarrassed to admit how much a poor marriage or teenager defiance or even workplace stress really does affect us. Can parents acts as prevention specialists for our children. As adults, we need 17 hugs just to maintain normal living? Our children need them to counter the cumulative effects of stress on their lives to avoid PTCS - Post Traumatic Childhood Stress.

If you don’t believe there is a such a thing, just observe children interacting on a play ground. There are some mean things thrown back and forth on the jungle gym, let me tell you! Add to that some homework pressures and the constant media bombardment of negative words and images and what child wouldn’t feel slightly traumatized? As parents, the least we can do is give some touch therapy with a few hugs a day.

John Bowlby, the great attachment theorist, stated that attachment is essential to normal development. Guardians are supposed to be our safe haven from life. Home should be a place of refuge from the constant stress of school and work. Granted, there are chores and homework to be done but how can you carve our 30 minutes a day for some connection. Parents are quick to use Time-Out, how about some Time-In? It might be good for mom and dad too. Starting today, give a few more hugs than usual. It is OK to start slow and work your way up. And yes, teenagers love them too. You just have to be a little more crafty in your approach.  

17 Hugs A Day

My wife and I have a joke that we tell each other and family members: It takes a minimum of 17 hugs a day to feel normal. I will confess that there is no scientific research that supports 17 hugs per day therapy…at least not yet. Nevertheless, we have come to recognize that need for touch and have adopted the idea that hugs, at least 17 is what gets us through the daily life hassles. At a recent conference on Attachment Theory, where there was some real scientific data, a presenter on PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that stated that data suggests that the little stressors of everyday living can add up to the same effects of someone who has undergone a single, major life trauma, like a robbery or death of a loved one or car accident.
We let these little incidents of life go by without any real concern. Perhaps we feel embarrassed to admit how much a poor marriage or teenager defiance or even workplace stress really does affect us. Can parents acts as prevention specialists for our children. As adults, we need 17 hugs just to maintain normal living? Our children need them to counter the cumulative effects of stress on their lives to avoid PTCS - Post Traumatic Childhood Stress.
If you don’t believe there is a such a thing, just observe children interacting on a play ground. There are some mean things thrown back and forth on the jungle gym, let me tell you! Add to that some homework pressures and the constant media bombardment of negative words and images and what child wouldn’t feel slightly traumatized? As parents, the least we can do is give some touch therapy with a few hugs a day.
John Bowlby, the great attachment theorist, stated that attachment is essential to normal development. Guardians are supposed to be our safe haven from life. Home should be a place of refuge from the constant stress of school and work. Granted, there are chores and homework to be done but how can you carve our 30 minutes a day for some connection. Parents are quick to use Time-Out, how about some Time-In? It might be good for mom and dad too. Starting today, give a few more hugs than usual. It is OK to start slow and work your way up. And yes, teenagers love them too. You just have to be a little more crafty in your approach.  

jrjrnl:

Rules for school and life. #parenting #kids #school #fun

Core Values are what drive our best practices in life. These values are at the heart of healing for Ron Huxley and are evident in his work with families:


Healing occurs in “family”. The family is the primary healing agent for change. Children cannot be “fixed” but must be treated as powerful, creative people that must learn to live with other powerful, creative people called “family.” Family can look like many positive things.

Healing is Wholeness. Healing isn’t just about coping with problems, it is about being whole in mind, body, and spirit. It involves and impacts all three areas.

Healing looks like something. It should be noticeable, practical, and agreeable. It involves a change of heart as well as behavior. It is a measurable process.

Healing focuses on our strength’s. Healing builds on what is already working… It focuses on doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Healing is multi-sensory and experiential. It uses all the senses and can involve storytelling, drama, movement, and art.

Healing occurs when a “false belief” is replaced with a “true belief”. A false belief is the real root of the problem, not the behavior. Behaviors are the fruit of your beliefs. Once the false belief is discovered, a true belief must take its place.

Healing is inherent in identity. You can choose what you belief about yourself and not what your situation suggests or others say about you. Once you know your identity you will know your needs and your boundaries.


Healing always involves truth. It comes form understanding “all there is to know” about the story of you. Even young children can handle truth when shared in a developmentally appropriate and caring way. Truth brings freedom from pain.

Fasting from Guilt…
Lent is just a day away and while I don’t always observe this Holy Day, I do find it a powerful discipline. I wonder what would happen if instead of fasting from food or drink, parents gave up some unnecessary guilt? Recently, I was looking at the beautiful clouds and had this thought: 





It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons and the sky was beautiful blue. White, billowy clouds were floating by as I sat and watched them on my front porch. The only problem with this day was I felt guilty about not being more productive. I felt like I “should” be doing something. Pulling weeds, reading some important journal paper or updating my blog. I remember this feeling as a parent too. There always seem like there is so much to do and I was always so far behind on something. Shouldn’t I be doing laundry instead of playing catch in the backyard with my kids or working on some craft?

There were many times my guilt drove me to try and do household chores and play with the kids at the same time. Let’s just say, it wasn’t very effective in either area. Many of us NEED to listen to that inner voice. That bathroom really does need some more attention but for the majority of parents, guilt is a constant critic. It is driven by the need for perfection. It fears what others will think of us. It causes us to forget that our children are more important than a clean dish put away into the dishwasher. As a grandparent, you realize that the moments slip away into days into years into decades and then there are gone. When you realize all the magical moments missed with your child because you just had to prune the rose bush or scrub the shower (or for you working parents, work an extra hour or two in your home office), that is when the real guilt settles in. It is for what you could have done with your child if I wasn’t just so tightly wound up over the little things.

Here’s my parenting (and grandfatherly) advice:  Spend an entire weekend just interacting with your children and let guilt go for two entire days! Just two days mind you. That means the beds don’t get made, the dishes may stay in the sink (OK, you can put them away after they go to bed) and the home office door stays shut. Oh yeah, and the electronic devices are off.

Yes, off! 

Fasting from Guilt…

Lent is just a day away and while I don’t always observe this Holy Day, I do find it a powerful discipline. I wonder what would happen if instead of fasting from food or drink, parents gave up some unnecessary guilt? Recently, I was looking at the beautiful clouds and had this thought: 

It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons and the sky was beautiful blue. White, billowy clouds were floating by as I sat and watched them on my front porch. The only problem with this day was I felt guilty about not being more productive. I felt like I “should” be doing something. Pulling weeds, reading some important journal paper or updating my blog. I remember this feeling as a parent too. There always seem like there is so much to do and I was always so far behind on something. Shouldn’t I be doing laundry instead of playing catch in the backyard with my kids or working on some craft?
There were many times my guilt drove me to try and do household chores and play with the kids at the same time. Let’s just say, it wasn’t very effective in either area. Many of us NEED to listen to that inner voice. That bathroom really does need some more attention but for the majority of parents, guilt is a constant critic. It is driven by the need for perfection. It fears what others will think of us. It causes us to forget that our children are more important than a clean dish put away into the dishwasher. As a grandparent, you realize that the moments slip away into days into years into decades and then there are gone. When you realize all the magical moments missed with your child because you just had to prune the rose bush or scrub the shower (or for you working parents, work an extra hour or two in your home office), that is when the real guilt settles in. It is for what you could have done with your child if I wasn’t just so tightly wound up over the little things.
Here’s my parenting (and grandfatherly) advice:  Spend an entire weekend just interacting with your children and let guilt go for two entire days! Just two days mind you. That means the beds don’t get made, the dishes may stay in the sink (OK, you can put them away after they go to bed) and the home office door stays shut. Oh yeah, and the electronic devices are off.
Yes, off!