Ron Huxley's Parenting Toolbox

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.

Media and Consultations:

Check out some other blogs by Ron:

Inner Healing

Kingdom Coach

Laughter Therapy
DIY Parent

Recent Tweets @ronhuxley

Keep your expectations low and your priorities high.

Why are you going on this vacation? I know it’s not because you love pain. Are you doing it for you, the children, or what? Answering this question will allow you to keep your expectations low and your priorities high. The higher your expectations the greater your chances of disappointment and anger. My wife and I have found that when we go on vacation with the children, it is about the children. We don’t try to have a romantic encounter with each other unless it happens unexpectantly. If we wanted that, we should have gone on vacation by ourselves. And sometimes we do.

Going on vacation is always unpredictable. That’s part of why we love to do it. It is different from the daily routine of work and taking care of the house. But it also away from the familiar. So be willing to take some risks and go with the flow. Be focused on your bottom line. If you want to see new things or have fun, there are many ways to have that. And most likely, it won’t be what you imagine. When you take the wrong highway or the kids get sick, remind yourself that you are doing something new and different. If not a little bit anxious.

Family Vacation Tip: It’s not about you…

More than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which found that toddlers covered by Medicaid are particularly prone to be put on medication such asRitalin and Adderall, is among the first efforts to gauge the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in children below age 4. Doctors at theGeorgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, where the data was presented, as well as several outside experts strongly criticized the use of medication in so many children that young.

The American Academy of Pediatrics standard practice guidelines for A.D.H.D. do not even address the diagnosis in children 3 and younger — let alone the use of such stimulant medications, because their safety and effectiveness have barely been explored in that age group. “It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center.


The most important thing to teach is how to think, not what to think.

Fear of failure among children in America today is at epidemic proportions. Fear of failure causes children to experience debilitating anxiety before they take a test, compete in a sport, or perform in a recital. It causes them to give less than their best effort, not take risks, and, ultimately, never achieve complete success.

Cause of Fear of Failure

Children get this destructive perspective on failure from American popular culture. Popular culture defines failure as being poor, anonymous, powerless, unpopular, or physically unattractive. On television and in the movies, the losers-nerds, unattractive people, poor athletes-are teased, bullied, and rejected. With this definition of failure, popular culture has created a culture of fear and avoidance of failure. It has conveyed to children that if they fail, they will be ostracized by their peers and branded as losers for life!

Parents Make Things Worse

Many parents have fallen under American popular culture’s spell of failure as well. They’ve compounded the harm that failure can inflict on children by also connecting their own love and approval with it. The message children get is “I won’t love you if you get bad grades.” They come to see failure as a threat to their personal and social standing.

The Stigma of Failure

There is no greater stigma in American popular culture than being labeled a loser. The expression loser (as the picture at the right illustrates) has become an oft-used and enduring symbol in popular culture. To be called a loser is, to paraphrase a well-known sports cliché, worse than death because you have to live with being a loser.

Avoiding Failure

Children learn that they can avoid failure three ways:

Children don’t engage in an activity in which they fear failure. If children don’t participate, they’re safe from failure. Injury, illness, damaged equipment, forgotten or lost materials, apparent lack of interest or motivation, or just plain refusal to take part are common ways in which children can avoid failure and maintain their personal and social esteem.Children can also avoid failure by failing in an activity, but protect themselves from the failure by having an excuse-“I would have done well, but I just didn’t feel like it” or “I would have done just fine, but the teacher was totally unfair.” Because their failures were not their fault, children can’t be held responsible and popular culture and their parents must continue to accept and love them.Many children don’t have the luxury of not taking part or coming up with excuses, for example, children can’t just not go to school. So another way that children can avoid failure is to get as far away from failure as possible by becoming successful. But children who are driven to avoid failure are stuck in limbo between failure and real success, what I call the “safety zone,” in which the threat of failure is removed, for example, they have a B+ average or finish in the top 10 in their sport, but they are unwilling to intensify their efforts to fully achieve success.

The Value of Failure

Failure is an inevitable-and essential-part of life. Failure can bolster the motivation to overcome the obstacles that caused the failure. It shows children what they did wrong so they can correct the problem in the future. Failure connects children’s actions with consequences which helps them gain ownership of their efforts. Failure teaches important life skills, such as commitment, patience, determination, decision making, and problem solving. It helps children respond positively to the frustration and disappointment that they will often experience as they pursue their goals. Failure teaches children humility and appreciation for the opportunities that they’re given.

Of course, too much failure will discourage children. Success is also needed for its ability to bolster motivation, build confidence, reinforce effort, and increase enjoyment. As children pursue their life goals, they must experience a healthy balance of success and failure to gain the most from their efforts.

Defining Failure

To protect children from popular culture’s destructive definitions of failure, give them positive definitions of failure. I define failure in ways that encourage children to value rather than fear it.

Failure is not living in accordance with their values. When children cheat, lie, or don’t take responsibility for themselves, then they fail.When children buy into popular culture’s definition of success, for example, being overly concerned with popularity or appearance, then they fail.Failure involves children not giving their best effort, making poor decisions, and not doing what is in their best interest.When children look for the easy way out, are influenced by peer pressure, and act in ways that can hurt them, then they fail.Failure also means treating others poorly and not giving back to their families, communities, and the world as a whole. When children are selfish, uncaring, and disrespectful of the world in which they live, then they fail.

Giving children a definition of failure that takes away the fear liberates them from that fear. It also frees them to strive for success without reservation, to explore, take risks, and vigorously pursue their dreams. Children will know in their hearts that some failure is okay and in no way a negative reflection on themselves as people. Finally, failure will ultimately enable them to achieve success, however they define it.


My heart melts every time I watch this and I can’t get enough of it! Life-long memories being made here…good job Dad! You can tell by the way he looks at her, he’s so proud and in love. : )

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. 


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.


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!