Faith-In-Motion Seminars: “Healing The Family Constellation”

Join me as I kick off 2018 with a new series of Faith-In-Motion Seminars. Sponsored by the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services, Grace Central Coast, and Cuesta College, this seminar scheduled on January 22, from 9 am to 12 noon, will be on “Healing the Family Constellation.” 

I will be talking about the healing power of the family from a faith-based, trauma-informed approach. In addition, we will have a panel that represents the adoption constellation. They will share their diverse stories and answer some practical, real-life questions.

In this month’s seminar, we will discover the pro’s and con’s of open adoption, the various levels of relationship between adoptive parents, children, bio family members, extended family, and professionals. You will collect powerful trauma tools to heal the damaging effects of toxic stress and trauma. And, of course, there will be a time for questions and answers.

There is NO FEE to attend this seminar. Training hours are available. I hope to see you there.

Download the flyer here!

The Anxiety Balance: Acceptance and Change

Anxiety vs. Fear

A lot of people confuse anxiety with fear. We use the words interchangeably without much thought about the difference. Understanding the definitions will help us find the anxiety balance between acceptance and change.

Imagine you are on a rollercoaster and as you start up the hill you are starting to get tense and gripping the rail in front of you in anticipation of the drop that will come on the other side. This is anxiety. As you make the sudden plunge downward you are screaming in joyful terror and feel out of control. This is fear.

Anxiety can be described as the “fear of the fear.” The experience of fear resides in your imagination about an event in the future. It could be a real event or it could be false. Fear is the experience of terror in the present as events are actually occurring. This is important because, in anxiety, the future has not happened yet. We are anticipating a stressful event and creating our own physiological symptoms, sweating, tension, heart palpitations, in our minds. The actual events, however, justified they appear to be, have not taken place. Knowing this would suggest that we can control what we think and imagine to manage anxiety.

This presents us with a key strategy used by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. in her program called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dialectical simply means “tension” between two equally valid concepts such as acceptance and change.

 

Acceptance & Change

While it appears that acceptance and change are opposing forces, they are actually compliments of one another in the process of managing our emotional states. Applying them together facilitates a greater sense of mastery in our lives.

For example, if we are scheduled to give a public presentation and feeling anxious about it, we simply accept that we have these feelings while also recognizing that we only have to speak for a few minutes and then it will be over. You also know there are supportive people in the audience who would never humiliate you and in fact, you are very well prepared.

You might worry about your health and while you accept that you may find out bad news and get a poor diagnosis, you also know that modern medicine has a lot of treatments, medications, and know that you trust.

This paradox creates space for skill building. If presentations are part of your work and can’t avoid doing them, you can build skills like getting a coach, go to Toastmasters, read books or watch Youtube videos to increase your confidence and abilities. If the idea of asking someone out on a date terrifies you, you can just hang out with your peers, go on group dates, find a matchmaker to help you find your true love. If you are worried about your health, because your family has bad genes, you can get a trainer, talk to doctors, develop a new eating routine, and so on. The more you build skills, the less anxious you feel about some bad event occurring in your future.

Get more information on this topic and how to build mind-full-ness into your life to balance anxiety by taking the complete “Freedom From Anxiety” program >> Click here!

What’s Your Parenting Style?

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What’s your parenting style? Are you happy with the results you get from your interaction with your children? What about with your spouse? Do the two of you work well together or do you have oppositive ways of parenting that results in arguments and resentments?

This doesn’t have to spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R for your family. Even complete opposites can learn how to work together by focusing on each other’s strengths and compensating for each other’s weaknesses.

Parenting styles can be categorized into four main styles that correspond to a balance of “love and limits” that include:

 
* Rejecting/Neglecting Style: Low Love and Low Limits.

* Authoritarian Style: Low Love and High Limits.

* Permissive Style: High Love and Low Limits.

* Democratic or Balanced Style: High Love and High Limits.

“Love and limits” are terms that describe a parents discipline orientation. Parents who are oriented toward a “relational discipline orientation” are said to use love as their primary style of parenting. Parents who use “action discipline orientation” are said to use limits as their primary style of parenting.

All parents incorporate both love and limits in their style of parenting. It is the balance of love and limits that determine a parent’s particular style. Only the democratic or balanced parenting style have both high love and high limits. In addition, each style has strengths and weaknesses inherent in them and are learned from the important parental figures in our lives. These figures are usually our own parents.

Parents who use love as their primary style (permissive parents) consider love to be more important than limits. They also use the attachment and their bond with their child to teach right from wrong. They spend a lot of time with the child communicating, negotiating, and reasoning. Their value is on “increasing their child’s self-esteem” or “making them feel special.”

Parents who use limits as their primary style (authoritarian parents) consider limits as more important than love (relationship). They use an external control to teach right from wrong and are quick to act on a discipline problem. Consequently, children are usually quick to react and rarely get their parents to negotiate. The value is on “teaching respect” and “providing structure.”

Parenting styles are defined as the “manner in which parents express their beliefs about how to be a good or bad parent. All parents (at least 99%) want to be a good parent and avoid doing what they consider to be a bad parent. Parents adopt the styles of parenting learned from their parents because

1) They don’t know what else to do

or

2) They feel that this is the right way to parent.

You can learn how to balance love in limits in your relationships using our Family Healer School ecourse “Parenting Styles: How to Balance Love and Limits” (CLICK HERE). 

W.O.R.K. With Your Teen’s Brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A particular area of interest for me is the teenage brain. It is one of the most rapidly changing periods of brain development. This is no surprise to parents who are trying to understand the rapidly changing personality of the teenager.

Perhaps the most dramatic area of development is the area called the prefrontal orbital brain. It is called this because it sits directly behind our eyeballs and it is responsible for abstract thought, moral reasoning, self-control, planning, judgment and so many other areas commonly associated with adults. This area is in constant flux, causing radical shifts in mood and attitude. This formation and reformation of the brain continue into young adulthood (the mid-20’s). I often joke with parents that while their child has the hardware upgrade, the software has not yet been installed. This is why the teen is capable of getting pregnant, driving a car or doing algebra but they don’t mean that they are completely ready for the adult world of intense responsibility or raising a family.

This poses significant challenges to parents who want to navigate the raging waters of adolescence, therefore, I am going to list four basic reminders to help parents stay sane when their child actions appear insane. I am using the acronym WORK to guide parents:

W = Remember that your child is still “wondering” about how the world works. He or she might try to convince you that they already know how it does but they don’t. They haven’t had enough experience yet for this to be possible. They need you to help them by asking “what if” questions that will explain some cause and effect relationship and assist them in planning out their day and making better judgments. Because their brain is still developing they use their “will” to fight you and cover up their inexperience. Don’t shame them. Train the “will” to find positive rewards in daily interactions. “Wait” for them to get it. It will take them longer than you as they haven’t traveled some of these morally sticky situations in life yet. Allow them a little more time to “wake” up to a new world of responsibilities and schedules.

O = Be “open” to “opportunities” for your teenage child to share some wisdom about the world and how to survive in it. Don’t preach at them as this will shut them down completely. “Occupy” the same space and look for openings when you are both in a good mood. The relational approach will be more effective and allow more “objective” conversation between you. Remember that “obedience” at this age is really about natural consequences or trial and error for the teenager. The will learn more about doing then lecturing. Being a good role model will help them understand how to use the “operators” manual called their brain more than lots of words at this time of life.

R = “Relationship” is one of the toughest things to have with the teen but one of the most important tasks a parent can do for their child. You may only have a split-second when the door is open wide enough to have that former intimacy but use it when you can. It will pay huge ‘rewards” for both of you later in life. “Recognize” that the teen is in process. They are still not fully cooked and need more time in the oven of life before they can be expected to make better decisions. They will “reflect” their peers and “respond” more from other inexperienced teenagers over their own, more experienced parents. This is not a true sign of his “respect” or “rejection.” The teen is just trying to find their own way. Don’t take this personal. “Rebelliousness” is the other side of the “readiness” coin of maturity.

K = Be “kind” to your teen as they developmentally, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Turn the proverbial other cheek and smile when they growl. Reach out again when they slap away your hand. The “key” to relating to the teenager is a long-term vision. This isn’t just about today. It is about the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years of your life together. The cold response you get from that teen-child today will “kindle” into a stronger fire connection later in life. Work with that end in mind. Keep in mind this is your “kin.” They may be more like you than you care to admit. They share your nature and your nurture and need your “kudo’s” for every positive effort and the end result you can give.

Dear Anger Diary

diary

Have you ever kept a diary? Maybe as a child, you did. I still do although I am not as diligent with it as I used to be. Using a diary is a simple way to manage your anger. Anger triggers and solutions are very predictable. Unfortunately, we miss the clues to both of these anger management tips and continue to repeat the negative process of outburst and tantrums.

Every day for two weeks, write in a diary using this four-step anger management process:

1. List what made you angry.
2. List how angry it made you feel on a scale from 1 to 10, one being cool and calm and 10 being a major rage.
3. Put a plus sign (+) down if you handled it well and a minus sign (-) if you didn’t.
4. Write what you will try next time this situation presents itself.

After two weeks are over go back and see what you have learned. You will be surprised by how much info you gathered in a short time and how much insight and change you have accomplished.

Coming soon: The Anger Toolbox ecourse! Join our newsletter now to get more info when it arrives…

Foster Care and Adoption Conference

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It is my honor today to speak at the Welcoming Children Home 2017: Central Coast Adoption and Foster Care Conference.

“The purpose of this annual Central Coast Orphan Care Conference is to motivate and inform Christians of both the Biblical call and the needs of orphans. This conference is for everyone! Those interested in foster care and adoption; those with adopted or foster kids looking for more support and training; and those who are wanting to care for orphans globally and domestically but not called to adopt.”

My breakout session will be on “NeuroResilience: How to Trauma Proof Your Nervous System” and will provide practical strategies for healing hurt families.

In my practice, many parents are frustrated with their attempts to use traditional behavioral strategies like time out, behavior charts, and removing privileges. It is not the methods that are ineffective. The problem is the nervous system. Toxic stress severely impacts the child’s nervous system causing developmental delays and emotional dysregulation. Traditional methods are unable to “stick” to the child’s nervous system that isn’t resilient enough to manage the more cognitive parenting strategies.

NeuroResilience is a term that I coined to describe how parents can help their hurting children create balanced nervous systems. These tools will allow children to have greater self-regulation and more peaceful lives.

You can view the handouts for Ron’s NeuroResilience training by clicking here!

If you would like Ron to develop a workshop or training for your organization, contact him today at rehuxley@gmail.com or call (805) 709-2023.

Take an online course in Ron’s Family Healer School…click here now. 

Helping Children With Anxiety

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We have created a new course for parents on “Helping Children With Anxiety”. You can view it now in our Online Courses page (click here). This course will include:

  • What is Anxiety?
  • Developing Your Child’s Emotional IQ
  • How NOT To Pass Anxiety On To Your Children
  • 8 Helpful Things (Strategies) To Say To An Anxious Child
  • Children’s Fears: Create a S.A.F.E.R. H.O.M.E.
  • Teach Your Child To Be A Worry Warrior and a Fear Fighter
  • A Healthy Gut is a Happy Gut!

SPECIAL OFFER: Our Freedom From Anxiety program is now available as a monthly membership program. Get new tools for the body/mind/spirit and overcome anxiety for only $29.95 per month. Don’t miss this unique offer…click here for more info!

 

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The Emotionally Regulated Classroom

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It’s been reported that one out of every four children attending school has been exposed to a traumatic event that can affect their learning and/or behavior. Educators need the right information, with the right tools, to be prepared at the right time.

When children have experienced chronic and pervasive trauma, their thinking skills are literally hijacked by their emotional brain, shutting down their ability to focus, initiate tasks, follow directions, organize work, and control impulses. Everything a child needs to be successful in school.

How do parents and educators work together to help hurt children and manage their classrooms?

The first step in becoming Trauma-Informed is to understand the effects of toxic stress on the developing child and recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma.

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Children and youth may not always verbalize that they are going through a traumatic event. It is up to the adults, in their lives to recognize the warning signs and know how to help. If you know what to look for, the child’s behavior will be speaking “loud and clear!”

Young children, ages 0-5 can demonstrate activity levels that are much higher or lower than peers. They can startle very easily and be difficult to calm. Their play may reveal traumatic events over and over again or come up in little snippets of conversations. Clinginess, extreme irritability, reluctance to explore the world and long, frequent tantrums are also possible signs of trauma.

In elementary school children, they may complain about frequent headaches or stomachaches with no apparent cause. They can regress to earlier developmental stages with thumb sucking or bed wetting. It can be difficult to transition them from one activity or another. Emotionally, they can verbalize scary feelings and ideas, burst into tears over little things and/or be extremely withdrawn and quiet. There might be reports of eating and sleeping problems. They might get into trouble more than usual at home and school. And, they could have poor attention, distractibility and be unable to follow directions.

All of this results in low school performance…

Older children may talk constantly about their traumatic situation or deny that anything is wrong. Behaviorally, they can refuse to follow rules, be oppositional and defiant, disrupt classrooms, and act anxious or depressed. It is also possible that they are tired all the time, have physical complaints without any medical reasons, fall asleep in class, or engage in risky behaviors, like alcohol, drugs, and physical fights.

Understanding these signs of trauma will empower parents and educators to be more sensitive and resourceful in helping children in the classroom.

One of the most challenging symptoms of trauma to manage is emotional dysregulation.

This occurs when a child or youth is unable to control or regulate their emotional responses to stimuli in their environment. Their reactions can be extremely exaggerated with bursts of anger, crying, defiance, passive-aggressive behaviors, frequent interruptions, and chaotic disruptions in the classroom. Unfortunately, children and educators often engage in power struggles that no one can win.

The Regulated Classroom:

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Educators can model emotional self-regulation for their students.

They can demonstrate how to notice, name, and respond to intense feelings instead of reacting to them. Doing so, will build resilience within and beyond the classroom.

Educators can use classroom design to prepare a space that promotes self-regulation. Classrooms should, generally, be well organized, clean, well-labeled, and provide resources for overwhelmed students.

Many of the principles and techniques used to interact with students with trauma are broadly applicable to conversations with all students.

Clear, assertive, comfortable communication can establish trust and provide structure.

However, it is important for educators to realize that the emotional and social needs of students with trauma are different.

Students should be made aware, in a clear, specific fashion, what their teachers and staff expect of them.

School discipline policies should be communicated at the beginning of the year to all students, faculty, and staff, and should be consistently described.

Allowing students an opportunity to inquire about, and even challenge, rules, will increase their sense of procedural justice.

If students perceive the procedures as basically transparent and fair, they are more likely to go along with an individual decision or policy they do not agree with.

Regulation Strategies for the Classroom:

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One strategy to regulated the classroom is called “Two Before Me.”

In a group discussion, a student may initially speak up whenever they have the opportunity & are called on.

However, after speaking, a student must wait for at least two other people to speak before they can raise their hand or contribute again.

This prevents conversations from being dominated by a limited few people and can reduce conflict/arguments.

Another strategy is the “Suggestion Box.”

Students with trauma often find it scary to communicate their needs or express displeasure.

Students who have been neglected may not be used to identifying or sharing needs at all.

To encourage these students to express their needs, supply them with a suggestion box or cubby hole in a circumspect place in your classroom.

Set aside a weekly or monthly time where the contents of the box are discussed or provide written answers to students concerns on a bulletin board.

You can name this box something other than a suggestion box. Perhaps call it a comment box or question box or come up with a name the class decides together. Remind students that it is OK to write feelings they are uncomfortable to say out loud as long as the feeling is not directed at a specific person, or intended to cause harm.

In the “Ouch/Oops” strategy,  the classroom learns how to manage hurt feelings and resolve conflicts.

If your class adopts this rule, anyone is free to say “Ouch” if something a peer or teacher says rubs them the wrong way.

For example, if someone said something hurtful, accusatory, or generally offensive, the person who caused the “Ouch” is required to say “Oops”. It is then up to the person who said “Ouch” to determine how the conflict should be resolved, like having a private discussion or a mediation with the teacher or other peers.

Educators will need to watch for misuses of this strategy, such as a student using “Ouch” frequently to derail a conversation or target a disliked peer. Also, students may “Ouch” something benign a teacher says that they don’t like, such as assignment due date. And students may refuse to respond with an “Oops” if there are no firm rules on it.

If necessary, educators may want to restrict this strategy to personal discussions to prevent misuse.  Generally speaking, older students are somewhat more likely to use “Ouch/Oops” strategy correctly but with some practice, it can be a useful regulation tool for all ages.

References:

https://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-57-Trauma-Informed-Care-in-Behavioral-Health-Services/SMA14-4816

http://kids-alliance.org/programs/education/edtoolkit/

https://www.ojjdp.gov/programs/safestart/TipSheetFor_Polyvictimization.pdf

https://internationaltraumacenter.com/community-based-interventions/

https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/national-scientific-council-on-the-developing-child/

GET MORE Trauma-Informed Tools by contacting Ron Huxley at rehuxley@gmail.com for a consultation or in-services at your next event or conference. Click here for more information.