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Riding the Wave of Change Together: Foster Parent Conference

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It is my honor to present at the 41st Annual State-Wide Foster Parent Conference in Garden Grove, CA. on October 12th, 2017. The conference is entitled: “Riding the Wave of Change Together.

I will be teaching a 4-hour seminar on  The Trauma Toolbox – NeuroResilience: How to Trauma Proof Your Nervous System and Healing Strategies for the Hurt Family. 

Descriptions of the seminar are as follows:

You have a beautifully designed brain and nervous system, but what happens when it is exposed to toxic stress and trauma?  Learn the basic components of NeuroResilience to calm the brain and body with easy-to-use nervous system hacks.

How do power-full families live in close relationships with one another?  Learn how to decrease power struggles and teach children to be responsible and fun to be around.  Use practical, power-full parenting tools with interactive activities to help your family heal.

This seminar will be fun, informal, and always functional. Hope to see you there!

Conference Presentation Slides: Click here!

Understanding Generational Patterns of Parenting

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A generational pattern refers to behaviors or attitudes that are passed from one generation to another. This usually occurs through “learned behavior.” Take bad parenting, for example, …if you grew up in a home with abuse or neglect you might have vowed that you would never do to your own children what your parents did to you…but what happens to many families who make this vow? They end up saying and acting in a similar manner. You know the moment I am referring to when you yell at your children and realize that sounds just your mother or father? Not a good moment, right? But we learn how to act or react, right or wrong, from the previous generation 

Take a moment and think something GOOD that you learned from your family of origin. Maybe it was how to cook or build things or a love to read poetry. 

It would be nice if all we learned was the good stuff and we never learn anything bad from our parents but unfortunately, we do get both. Some of this is genetic. We can have temperaments, chemical makeups, and other inherited traits that come from our parents. We could grow up in a poor family and adopt some ideas about the need to “count pennies” even when we are not poor in our current family. We can also inherit depression and anxiety just like we can inherit medical issues, like certain genetic disorders or diseases.

Being able to accept the good with the bad is part of a healthy mind. This ability to understand the limitations of one’s parents and not be influenced by them is what clinicians called having a “coherent narrative.” This essentially means your story with all the good, bad, and the ugly is part of who you are but it doesn’t have to continue to define you. Your identity and your ability to have healthy, secure relationship are under your control.

Get the pdf of the slides for this seminar here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7g20sqv5f9g9uzn/Generational%20Patterns%20of%20Parenting%202.pdf?dl=0

If you would like to have Ron come speak on the Generational Patterns of Parenting to your organization or conference, contact him at rehuxley@gmail.com or call 805-709-2023.

Register for the upcoming workshop here:  https://ronhuxley.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/understanding-generational-patterns-of-parenting/

 

 

Trauma Can Shock You to Your Core (video)

When you go through something really horrible, it can shock you to your core. Trauma can take many forms. All of them have one thing in common: Feelings of Helplessness, Anger, Fear, and being Overwhelmed.

Watch the complete video on how trauma affects our lives and how you CAN heal…

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> Take our FREE Parenting Course: The Full-Proof Family Meeting when you sign up to our Family Healer Newsletter…Click here now!

Born To Worry

I really can’t think of anyone who loves stress. Do you? A little stress is normal in life but it can range from positive, tolerable, or even toxic. When we suffer from toxic stress early in life it can effect how our genes express their programmed ability to manage it.

A new book on the subject of stress, called “Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle, by Daniel P. Keating” reveals how and what happens when we are impacted by toxic stress.

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The book discusses research on epigenetics which is the study of genetic expression and how it is altered by environmental events. Our genes are designed, by our DNA, to cope with certain levels of stress. Positive and tolerable stress can be managed by our stress programs. Toxic stress, experienced early in life, effects if our genetic programs actually get turned on or off.

Our bodies are designed to amp up or power down in reaction to the type and amount of stress we go through on a daily basis. For example, if we find ourselves facing an angry dog, our immediate reaction is to fight or flee in order to survive. If the dog runs off, we might continue to feel agitated for a short while after the encounter and then we will naturally calm back down. Our nervous system is designed to amp up to deal with the dog and then reset itself so that we can function normally again.

Children who have gone through chronic early life stress may have their normal genetic response to angry dogs or any perceived threat altered. If the genetic expression to stress stays continuously on, we move through life as if the dog is always in front of us. In the book, Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity – and How to Break the Cycle, Daniel P. Keating states the effects of early life stress makes individuals “born to worry.”

Some of the reasons for early life stress can come from internal sources, such as hunger, pain, illness, fatigue, and external sources, such as family conflict, divorce, poverty and natural disasters. Many children suffer from the toxic stress of prenatal substance exposure and parental neglect. This formative time can have prolonged effects on our feelings of safety and our genetic expressions of coping.

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Looking for a speaker/consultant on Trauma-Informed Trainings? Talk with Ron Huxley…

Faith-In-Motion Training Series: “Healing The Hurt Child” May 20, 2017

Adoptive and foster care children that have suffered trauma have lost their “first love”. This loss creates pain in their hearts that make it difficult to love new people, in particular new mom’s and dad’s. Every time they open up to love or be loved the pain comes up as well. This can create some very interesting reactions in the child, often seen in reactive attachment disordered children (RAD) like lying, stealing, hoarding, urinating in their rooms, hurting self and others, destroying property and a host of other emotional and social dysfunctions. The answer to this problem is to remove the pain…

Come to the free training series “Healing The Hurt Child” sponsored by San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services’ Faith-In-Motion Program, Cuesta College and Grace Slo Church. This is a full day training from 9 am to 4 pm on May 20th. Lunch is on your own but child care is provided and the training is free. Parents and professionals who work with traumatized children are welcome to attend. See the training flyer below for registration details:

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How To Be A Worry Warrior And A Fear Fighter!

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about “what if” instead of enjoying the moment of “what is” right now? This is what happens when we worry about being hurt by other people if we get too close to them. It is also what happens when we fear something dangerous might occur, in the future, to us or someone we care about.

The emotional result of living in the “what if’s” is often anxiety and panic. I have worked with individuals who worry that they will have a car accident, choke on food, be publicly humiliated, or that someone will enter their house and hurt them or their family members. The list of possible “what if’s” could go on and on…

This worry prevents people from enjoying life in the moment. They are unable to go to parties or attend weddings and they avoid certain foods and even check doors repeatedly every night before going to sleep (if they are able to go to sleep). Their fear robs them of self-confidence and security.  In order to cope, they  avoid any potentially uncomfortable,  painful situation.

Often these “what if’s” situations come into our lives because of traumatic events in the past. Maybe we did get sick from expired milk and threw up in the cafeteria in front of all our friends. Perhaps we did have a tragic car accident that resulted in a terrible loss! Perhaps we have had our home invaded or someone assault us. While there may be many realities to our anxieties, we don’t have to let them continue to control our lives.

We can become worry warriors and fear fighters!

The secret to making this change is to understand the true nature of emotions. Anxiety is an emotion as is anger or excitement or happiness. All emotions are “energy in motion” or e-motions.

The word “motion”, in Latin, means “to move” as in “it’s time to move out” on a trip or journey. It also means “to excite” or take action.

Additionally, e-motions are temporary. They come without warning and they will leave just as quickly, if we let them. They will stay longer if we complicate their “movement” by holding on to them with our beliefs about ourselves and the world. If our experiences are negative and our beliefs follow with more negativity, then our e-motions stop their normal movement and become frozen in our psyches.

Typical negative beliefs that can result in anxiety include:

I am a failure.

I have to be perfect.

I should have done something.

I am not good enough.

I am not safe.

I am stupid.

I am bad.

I am not lovable.

I can’t bear the pain of _____.

I am not in control.

I am weak.

I am fake.

I am ugly.

It is my fault.

There may be more but that is enough to make you feel anxious! Imagine what it must be like to live with those negative beliefs all the time. Underneath all of those negative beliefs is the idea that they cannot change and we are destined to suffer under them forever. That is not true. You can fight back!

I’ll be honest. The fight can be hard but the prize (YOU) is worth it. This the only way to deal with anxiety. You can’t continue to avoid it and hope it goes away and you can fight it directly.

That’s right, you are NOT fighting anxiety head on. You are fighting your beliefs about anxiety and how you view yourself/your world. That is what keeps it frozen and stops it natural movement away from us. Another problem with fighting anxiety is that people try to measure success based on whether they FEEL anxious or not instead of whether they are able to LIVE productively or not. You will always feel anxious from time to time. It is a natural e-motion that wants to move on. Focusing on living life is a much better measuring stick.

Use these positive thoughts instead:

I deserve to be happy.

I am great just as I am.

I am in control now.

I can do the best I can.

I am good.

I am smart.

I am beautiful inside and out.

I can make mistakes.

I am lovable.

I am strong.

It is not my fault.

I can succeed.

I am safe now.

Just like any good fighter, you have to take care of yourself. Regular exercise, good nutrition, relaxation and rest are important strategies to winning the worry war.

To help you visualize yourself as a worry warrior or a fear fighter, imagine wearing the following pieces of armor as you go into the battle:

Helmet of happy thoughts.

Breastplate of perfect love (that protects against fear).

Shield of self-confidence.

Boots (to stay grounded and moved you through the fight).

Sword of truth (that breaks irrational lies).

Chainmail of support (from family and friends).

Make up your own ideas with the following image as you become a worry warrior and a fear fighter:

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Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope

Listen to my radio interview reflecting on the documentary “Resilience”, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACES), and my thoughts on how to heal from trauma and child abuse.

Click here: http://kcbx.org/post/resilience

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“The child may not remember, but the body remembers.” Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. While the original research was controversial, experts now consider the findings to have revealed one of the most important public health findings of a generation. Understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests Nisha AbdulCadar, an M.D., F.A.A.P. and Pediatrician with Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center and Ron Huxley a LMFT who provides faith-based, trauma-informed therapy for individuals and families about the upcoming movie screening and research behind “Resilience,” a powerful documentary film by James Redford and Karen Pritzker that reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children which can put them at a an increased risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and even early death. Join the conversation and listen to how trailblazers like these in pediatrics, education, and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to fight back against the effects of toxic stress and greatly improve the health of our future generations.

Central Coast Voices is sponsored by ACTION for Healthy Communities in collaboration with KCBX and made possible through underwriting by Joan Gellert-Sargen.

“Pull Yourself Together”: Trauma and Sensory Integration Issues

 

Our bodies have 5 senses and 7 sensory data inputs:

1.Sight

2. Smell

3. Hearing

4. Taste

5. Touch

6. Balance

7. Body Position

All of our senses organize information from inside and outside our body and communicate the “data” to the brain. This organization allows us to know where our body is in time and space, to feel safe in one’s own body, and to perceive our body’s relationship to others and the environment.

A child who has experienced trauma typically has a dysintegration of sensory information that will result in a dysregulation of thinking and emotion. They will not be aware of where their bodies are in time and space, cannot feel safe in their own body, and are unable to make connections to others and the environment.

Stressful sensory input is handled by the lower levels of the brain (brain stem and limbic system) and the body and overseen by the higher, executive level of the brain. If the stressful input is mild, normal coordination between all levels of the brain and the body coordinate smoothly. If the stress is high and overwhelming, the lower levels will “hijack” the higher levels to protect the body. This is called the “fight or flight” reaction to perceived danger. If these two mechanisms are not able to bring the body back into a place of safety, the brain will react by “freezing” or shutting down.

The fight, flight and freeze reactions are designed to allow the higher order areas of the brain to continue operating so that is appears that traumatized children are functioning in some areas of life but there will continue to be gross areas of dysfunction in development. This will manifest in “gaps” between a child’s age and stage of development. They may be 15 years of age chronologically but act like a 5 year old socially and emotionally. Parenting strategies will have to adjust to meet both the 5 year old and the 15 year to close the gap.

Sensory “confusion” will drive traumatized children to be sensory seekers and/or sensory defenders. Sensory seekers look a lot like children diagnosed with attentional deficits. They appear impulsive, can’t sit still, wiggle a lot, touch things, put things in their mouths, tear things apart, easily distracted, etc. These are attempts to get more information about themselves and the world around them. Sensory defenders are quickly overwhelmed by certain sensory information in one or more of the sensory systems: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, oral, and olfactory. They will complain about the brightness of lights, the hum of electric motors, dislike loud noises, be irritated by the feel of clothing on their skins, be picky eaters, sensitive to perfumes and candles, etc. Children can have combinations of both sensory seeking and sensory defending.

There are 4 treatment strategies to help traumatized children with sensory integration issues:

1. Awareness

2. Adaption

3. Exposure

4. Advocacy

Awareness allows parents and children to be aware of their sensory triggers and needs. Adaption provides assistance to the child to get the sensory information they need or takes steps to avoid sensory overload. Exposure, in small increments over time, helps children build tolerance and increase functioning. Advocacy requests support from the child’s academic and social environment so that teachers and friends understand the issues and incorporate adaptations as well.

Try laughing at your problems today!

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Attachment researchers discovered that laughter turns on the reward pathways in the brain responsible for please, improved memory, attention and focus, motivation and problem-solving. Got a problem that feels too big or over powering? Take back your power over it by laughing at it today. Go on, give a big belly laugh about it right now.

Parents: The Source of Children’s Re-sources

 

Children must have a source of satisfaction and security in order for them to re-source their ability to manage themselves and their emotions. A positive parental source responds to a child’s need and satisfies it. This cycle of distress and restoration builds trust, security, and connection. Fortunately, parents only have to be “good enough”. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. There are many opportunities in parenting to prove you are a trustworthy “source” of support. This gives children the chance to “re-source” that support in themselves.