Faith-Based Attachment Parenting

Ron Huxley is proud to present the “Healing The Hurt” series on Faith-Based Attachment Parenting starting March 1st, 2019 at Seneca Center for Children in Salinas California.

Healing the Hurt Child addresses relational trauma and the ways it affects the human spirit. A model for healing will be described that looks at old concepts, like attachment and loss, from new perspectives. It works to answer the question “Why do we suffer?” so that we are better equipped to RESTore children to love and trust others. The primary healing strategy will focus on the role and rebuilding of identity.

The goal of this seminar is to create new attitudes about trauma and loss in children in caregivers and professionals who work with them. Participants will learn mindfulness practices and positive psychology exercises that will increase resiliency and regulation skills.

  • Define the concepts of spirit and faith-based as it applies to attachment and loss. List the 7 effects of trauma on the human spirit.
  • Identity 2 ways children experience pain in their hearts.
  • Discover 3 questions to help children address hurts.

Download the training flyer here or sign up directly by clicking here!

Art Journaling: A Powerful Healing Tool

Do you journal? Research shows that if someone journals once per day, for 4-days in a row, huge gains are made to immune system functioning, PTSD symptoms, anxiety symptoms, heart rate, and blood pressure. Consequently, this method has been used to treat trauma symptoms, abuse histories, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression, and more. 

Of course, not everyone enjoys writing. A powerful alternative to writing in a journal is art journaling. Art journaling is a visual diary that combines art, images, and words. It can have the same mental health benefits as writing.

Art journaling allows the individual to explore psychological and spiritual themes in their lives. Just rip pages from a magazine, old discarded book and add your thoughts and feelings. Images will “call out” to you and give you inspiration. Adhere them with glue, tape or staples! Now you have the beginnings of an art journal.

Spread from Ron Huxley’s Art Journal

I like to use “discarded, rejected” books from the library as my journal. I like taking something that is unwanted and repurposing it and creating something new and beautiful. Supplies can be found bits of ephemera or you can purchase name brand items from the art store. Any form of media or style is acceptable. This is really for you, by you, only.

During the process of art journaling, you might find untapped wells of resiliency that you didn’t know you had or find new sources of comfort and meaning that couldn’t come from just words.

Spread from Ron Huxley’s Art Journal

Art journaling can also be a way to get overcome a creative block, manage boredom and reduce perfectionism. Art journeyers can use this practice to explore their cultural and spiritual roots, grieve losses, and overcome historical traumas.   

Spread from Ron Huxley’s Altered DSM (click here for a slide show)

Contact Ron Huxley today about conducting an Art Journaling workshop for your organization today. Email here at rehuxley@gmail.com

Signs and Symptoms of Traumatized Children in School

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

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 at 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 educators to be more sensitive and resourceful in helping children in the classroom. 

You can learn more about toxic stress and trauma, in children, by taking FREE classes at http://TraumaToolbox.com

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

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

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

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. 

Safe, Structured, and Sensitive Schools: 

Provide consistent rules and structure

Enforce those rules consistently and transparently

Explain why the rules exist

Remain open to criticism and conversation.

Having a class meeting where students can vote on rules, or discuss policies, can help increase their sense of justice and safety. 

Many students with trauma histories have not been given much agency or structure. 

It can be comforting & affirming for students to see that school or classroom policies have a basis behind them, and can be revised if circumstances change. 

Discussion & debate of class or school rules should be limited to certain pre-determined times in the year. 

After the rules have been set, they should be consistently applied. 

This way, the students learn that rules are open to revision, but that they do provide structure once they are in place. 

Reminders of expectations should come on a regular basis. 

Can take the form of…

Posters or signs,

Social media posts,

Morning announcements,

and Monthly or weekly “check-in” meetings.

Newly enrolled students should be briefed upon entry into the school; consider having your class help teach the policies to the new student. 

Take a FREE ecourse today on parenting, anxiety, trauma, and more at http://FamilyHealer.tv

Dance of Attachment Training

If you are in San Luis Obispo County on January 26, 2019, please join Ron Huxley for a free training called the “The Dance of Attachment: How to safeguard and heal your child through bonding.” Learn the value of attachment and bonding in your caregiver relationship. Explore ways you can foster a connection with your child and overcome challenges that may be impacting your bond.

Date: Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Time: 11 am to 12 pm

Location: Arroyo Grande Public Library, 800 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande, Ca. 93420.

For registration, call 805-474-3000 ext. 1229 or send an email to rubi.cuevas@imusd.org.

Child care will be provided.

Dealing with the Soul and Emotions

Everyone struggles with how to deal with their emotions. This is especially challenging for children whose neurological development has not matured to the point that they can use more rational thinking to deal with their emotions. It becomes even more problematic if our children have suffered a traumatic event or experienced toxic stress. 

Trauma and toxic stress impair all areas of development for children causing them to act and think below their chronological age. We call this gap “Age vs. Stage” to reference how a 16-year-old can act socially and emotionally like a 6-year-old. Often, the age that the child experienced the trauma is the emotional age they get stuck at even while the rest of them advance in years. This can open the eyes for many caregivers who are puzzled by the age vs stage problem. 

Adults don’t always have good solutions to this problem, however. We may not really know how to manage our own emotions. Perhaps we have had our own trauma that shuts us down when overwhelmed by stress or we haven’t had many examples of what healthy, responsible adults do with their intense feelings and so, we limp along with our own developmental journey. 

What most adults do is stuff their feelings. They might do this by dissociating from their bodily reactions and disconnect from extreme feelings of intimacy or closeness. They might push the feelings down until the boil over in a fit of rage, with everyone around the just waiting for the next volcanic explosion. They might try to be super reasonable and lecture their family and be perfectionistic with expectations no one can live up to. 

The healthier answer is not to try and live from our emotions at all! The secret is that you can change your emotions by changing what you believe. When you wake up in the morning, don’t ask yourself “How do I feel today?” Ask yourself, instead “What do I believe today?”

Families who are faith-based believe many things they don’t always practice. For example, we believe that God will take care of all our needs but we spend hours being worried. Our beliefs must go deeper into our subconscious minds where habits exist. You don’t think about how to do certain things in life, like driving your car or make dinner, because those thought structures are set in our subconscious mind so that we can spend more energy on other conscious thoughts and actions. Practicing what we preach has to become a natural reaction to life’s challenges as well. 

Faith-based families have a strange distrust of their own souls as well. Our souls comprise our body, mind, and will. Perhaps we distrust them because we haven’t changed our subconscious habits yet. This will be an on-going process, for sure, and one we can start modeling for our children as well. We also have to live healthy lifestyles, eating good food, engaging in playful activities, and getting rest and exercise. 

Our beliefs allow us to overcome shame from our past. This is what causes traumatized children (and adults) from believing they deserve a good life because they are unworthy of love, unwanted by biological parents, and damaged in some way – maybe many ways. This negative belief results in the sabotage of success, self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideations, depression, anxiety, and fear. This list could go on…

God’s mercies are supposed to be “new every morning” and the same level of grace should be extended to ourselves as well as to other. We need to offer this to our traumatized children, as well. Whatever happened yesterday must be forgiven and our thought life must be taken captive. 

A powerful tool for ourselves and for our families is to make biblical declarations – out loud! Life or death is on the tongue and what we say can steer the direction of our lives (Proverbs 18:21; James 3). Speaking out our new beliefs is an act of faith because we may not feel that what we are saying is true but we are not letting our emotions guide our beliefs, we are letting our beliefs direct our emotions. 

Renewing the mind is how we are to live our faith governed lives and it is a continual process of maturity for our children and will help to close the age vs. stage gap (Romans 12:1-1). 

Start your declarations with the words “I believe” and see what happens to your own mindset as well as to your child’s attitude and behaviors.

“I believe” that I have all the grace I need to face any challenge or problem that comes up for me today.

“I believe” that I am worthy of love and the love of God, who is love, overflows from me to everyone I encounter today.

“I believe” that I am trustworthy, kind, and tenderhearted. I am able to forgive other people who have hurt by and not live in bitterness or seek revenge. 

  • “I believe” that my prayers are powerful.
  • “I believe” I am great at relationships and making friends.
  • “I believe”  that my family is blessed and I am a blessing to everyone around me.
  • “I believe” God is on my side and doesn’t hate me or punish me. 
  • “I believe” I can think right thoughts and make good decisions.
  • “I believe” that I am successful and have the ability to think and act creatively today.
  • “I believe” today is a new day, full of new mercies, and I can be happy and rejoice in it. 
  • “I believe” that the joy of the Lord is my strength. 
  • “I believe” I do not have a spirit of fear and God gives me power, love, and a sound mind. 
  • “I believe” that I can control what I say and everything from my lips speak love, live, and encouragement. 
  • “I believe” that I can remember everything I am studying and will accomplish everything that needs to get down today. 
  • “I believe” that believing the truth sets me free of fear and depression. 

Don’t worry if you don’t always feel what you say is true. Don’t be concerned or deterred if your children don’t agree with your declarations, at first. I believe that if you practice these declarations and start to create your own personal list that you will see incredible changes in your own heart and the heart of your family, today and over time!

Take a free online course to help your family heal at FamilyHealer.tv

The Quick Holiday Survival Guide!

If you want to put the “fun” back into dysfunctional, here are some practical ideas to have a safe and sane holiday.

Take physical safety precautions:


Young children are at-risk of eating poisonous holiday plants (mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly berries). Keep your local poison center’s number near the phone. Small table decorations and ornaments can be harmful if swallowed. Try to keep small objects, including hard candies and nuts, out of reach. If a child eats too much, read the medication label before treating upset stomachs. Fireproof your home. Natural and artificial trees can catch fire and while roaring fireplaces may look festive they can be dangerous if proper safety measures are not in place.

Take mental safety precautions:


Your sanity is as important as your family’s physical safety. Expect some amount of stress and plan ahead as much as possible to keep it to a minimum. Organize your shopping list and spread your shopping activities out over a few weeks. Have the holiday dinner at someone else’s house if having it at yours is too much stress. See the tips listed below for more ways to have a sane season.

Involve your children in the preparation of the festivities:


Have your children help you with all of the various aspects of preparing for the holidays. Brainstorm menu items from a stack of holiday recipes. Make holiday decorations together from ideas gathered in family magazines or special holiday craft books. Some craft ideas make excellent gift ideas. Start a holiday memory box. Save all of the cards, bits of wrapping paper, special pictures, and other odd assortments to review later in the year. Get excited about looking in the mailbox for Christmas cards and let the children help decide the best location for them. Make up a list of people to send your holiday greeting. If you are really ambitious make them up by hand.

Create special traditions and rituals:


Traditions and rituals are patterns of behaviors that have symbolic or spiritual meaning. They build firm foundations and reduce children’s holiday hyperactivity by creating a sense of family identity. Dinner menus, religious observances, advent calendars, gift wrapping parties, ornament collecting, sing-a-longs, and special holiday stories are just a few ways that parents can develop more intimate relationships with their children.

Reduce your expectations:


If you expect to have no problems, perfect children, or accident proof holidays you will be in for a major disappointment. Remember that children are often over-stimulated by the sights, sounds, and an incredible number of television commercials about the holidays. Think positively, optimistically, and rationally.

Seek social support for the holiday blues:


Depression or a case of the “blahs” is a common problem for people during the winter months. This is especially true for families who have experienced a separation or death of a loved one. The holidays remind us of family and friends and may beget a feeling of sadness. Children of divorce may suffer as a result of having to divide the holidays between mom’s house and dad’s house. Watch for signs of stress in children, such as headaches, restlessness, and sudden angry outbursts. To help deal with the winter blues, seek out positive social support. Volunteer to help others in even worst situations than you. Put aside custody battles and work together for the sake of the children, not the other parent. Or if necessary, seek out professional counseling.

Give yourself a gift:


The greatest gift you can give yourself is the gift of taking care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself before you can start taking care of everyone else. Delegate some of the shopping and preparations to other family members and take frequent breaks to regain lost energy. Do something for someone else that doesn’t involve writing a check. It’s amazing how doing a selfless act can renew your inner strength. Call a few nonprofit organizations in the phone book to see how you can help. Valuing yourself and help others less fortunate is also a good model for your children of what the holidays are really about!

Focus on the Spiritual Side of Things:

Lastly, and most importantly, focus on the spiritual significance of the season and involve your family in retelling the Christmas story based on your faith. Do charitable acts towards one another and in the community. Make the focus on giving and not receiving. This is a time of year for sharing joy and hope and although you are overwhelmed, try to pause and ponder what you are grateful for or what brings you a moment of awe and wonder. 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” — Luke 2:14

Take a FREE, online course on building faith in your child at http://FamilyHealer.tv

Are you taking care of yourself?

Parenting a traumatized child can be challenging and exhausting work. It isn’t something that should be done alone without adequate support or a self-care plan. Parents can seem like tireless caregivers who sacrifice their own needs for the needs of others. They can be highly efficient people with incredible levels of compassion and mercy for others. This mercy can have limits!

They often continue their work to the point of exhaustion, leaving them emotionally bankrupt. You can give away what you don’t have. Like the airlines instruct us before a flight: “in the event of an emergency, a life mask will drop. Be sure to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to put it on your child.” The point is that you can’t save someone one else if you are passed out and parents of traumatized children can’t help them if they are burnt out. 

REST stands for “RE-store your Soul from Trauma.” 

REST stands for “RE-store your Soul from Trauma.” Our soul refers to our entire being: body, mind, and spirit. Each area requires specific attention. You can’t focus on one and ignore the others. If we are empty in one area, it affects our entire soul. 

The key is to find rest IN work, not FROM work. It is a mindset that places hope at the heart of our care of traumatized children and looks at our beliefs about what we are doing more than the activity itself. If you have two people doing the same activity and one has a hope-filled, positive attitude about it and the other is weighed down with bitterness and negativity about it, who will be more exhausted by the task at the end? Of course, the one holding bitterness and negativity. 

When I was a young man I used to work for the father’s landscaping company. At the end of the day I was physically exhausted but mentally I was pleased by what I accomplished that day. I enjoyed seeing the results of my labors in the beautiful landscapes we would create. After going into “trauma work” there have been many days that I come home mentally exhausted and this showed in my physical body as well. My wife would often comment about the dark circles under my eyes and I would have to go to bed early to get enough rest to do it all over again the next day. 

This is how it feels for the parent or caregiver of the traumatized child. You are mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, and physically worn out and tomorrow you know you have to do all again. How will this be possible? 

Renewing our minds. 

Renewing our minds is the answer. In Romans 12:2, the bible says that were are to renew our minds. This means that we have to think the thoughts that Jesus thinks about ourselves and our situations. We have to let go of the negative, condemning thoughts (Romans 12:1) and start agreeing with heavens way of thinking. 

Parents might ignore this instruction believing they have “good reasons” for their poor attitudes. 

  1. There aren’t enough skilled people who can take over for me or provide consistent respite.
  2. My children are too difficult for other providers to manage. 
  3. They don’t have the time or money.
  4. God will sustain me.  
  5. It’s easier if I just do it myself then try and get someone else to do or if I don’t do it, no one else will.

The list could go on and on, right? While they all have a bit of truth to them and they are “good reasons” they are “bad excuses” for not living a life of rest. God will sustain parents but they must use the wisdom He gives them by setting boundaries and take proper care of themselves as well. 

Caregivers can adopt an orphan mentality or victim mindset that patterns the thought process of their individuals they are taking care of…In psychological terms, we call this parallel process. In trauma-informed care, we call this secondary trauma. 

Overcoming your orphan mentality and REST.

I have said elsewhere that we are double agents. We take care of people who have been traumatized and we have experienced trauma in our lives as well. This might have been our motivations for becoming a therapist, social worker, foster parent, adoptive parent, etc. It isn’t a wrong motivation but you will be triggered and you may have limiting beliefs that prevent you from finding rest IN work. It may exhaust you more! 

You have to be a “son or daughter” before you can be a fully functioning father or mother.  You can physically seek spiritual parents to support you as you carry on the work of parenting traumatized children. You may not have natural-born families that are near or healthy enough to rely on mentally and spiritually. You can review scriptures that explore being adopted by God and how you are a brother to Christ and sons/daughter’s to God (John 1:12, Galatians 3:26, John 3:16, Mark 10:13-16, Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:1-10, Romans 8:4-17)

Renewing your mind and life for REST. 

Ask yourself, what am I believing about my situation that is causing me to be drained and overwhelmed. 

Am I starting this work off with an attitude of resentment or with hope-filled promises?

Do I believe that nothing I do will matter or no one will appreciate me for the things I do or will I focus on doing this for God and seek only his approval? 

Are we inviting God into our circumstances to partner with us and bring us divine appointments and be able to find moments of grace and joy in our day.

Do we love ourselves before we attempt to love others? That is a hole in a bucket that will leave you empty sooner than later for sure!  

Are all the burdens you are carrying really yours to carry or are there a few bags of troubles that belong to other people?

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28  

REST in the little things.

When we think about rest we think spa days, two-week vacations in Hawaii, snuggling up in a cabin with a nice book and plenty of warm tea for a weekend. These are excellent ways to find rest but they require a lot of time, money and effort to pull off. If you can’t do these things then look for ways to find rest in the little things. 

Little activities are available at all times, are on-demand, and brief in duration. They don’t cost much or anything at all. They can fit into your busiest days and don’t require a lot of planning or sit up. 

Examples of little ways to rest include, but are not limited to: having morning devotions, watching a movie, pausing for a cup of tea or coffee, buying yourself a treat, taking the dog for a walk, playing a puzzle game on your phone or paper, taking 10 deep breaths several times a day, going to a yoga class or gym, cleaning up a closet or drawer, getting a massage, burning a scented candle, reading or telling a joke, taking a bubble bath, working on a hobby, listen to music, eat a healthy meal, drinking more water, talking to a friend, crying when needed, holding hands, going to church. You get the idea…

List 5 ways you will restore your soul in the next 30 days:

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