Understanding Generational Patterns of Parenting

Understanding Generational Patterns of Parenting

The impact of trauma on caregiver/child relationships and attachment.
September 22nd, 2017
from 9 am to 4 pm

San Luis Coastal Adult School
1500 Lizzie Street, Room J2
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Driving Directions

Parent Connection has selected you to attend this one day workshop.
Ron Huxley, our trainer, is a noted child and family therapist, speaker and blogger who helps families in need of hope and restoration in San Luis Obispo County. 
Parenting is never easy. As professionals working with parents/caregivers it is important to understand some of the challenges present in generational patterns of parenting. These challenges include:
  • The transmission of trauma from one generation to another
  • Adult Attachment challenges
  • The life-cycle of parenting
  • The importance of addressing survival needs and immediate crisis before addressing sensitive, underlying trauma and unexplored issues
Through building healthy communication habits, modeling characteristics of self-aware adults, and providing concrete tools and strategies, you can build confidence and restore hope for parents/caregivers.
There will be 5 contact hours through the
Board of Behavioral Sciences.
  (This only applies to Therapists and Social Workers)
This training is appropriate for professionals working with parents and caregivers of children of any age.
Including parent educators, family advocates, social workers, therapists and counselors, teachers, childcare providers and health care providers. 

FACT: 25% to 30% of “normal” families have emotionally insecure children — and are observed to need improvements in the emotional availability of their parent-child relationships.

The emotional security of children plays a significant role in shaping their lives — from their personality, confidence, success in future relationships, and mental health — as they grow. It is a widely accepted fact that children from loving and caring households go on to become well-adjusted adults, while children from abusive, broken, or neglectful homes often grow up to have serious emotional or even mental problems. But it is less well known that many concerned, caring, and well-meaning parents are still observed to need improvements in their relationships so that their children can grow up to be emotionally securely attached (vs. insecurely attached) to their parents. 30% of normal, benign relationships are found to be on the lower end of EA in our research studies.

When parents are emotionally reachable and are able to ‘read’ the emotional signals (through body and verbal language based on attachment and EA principles) of their kids, the children will perform better in a wide variety of situations.

Source: http://www.emotionalavailability.com

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.  

25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen

A major part of discipline is learning how to talk with children. The way you
talk to your child teaches him how to talk to others. Here are some talking
tips we have learned with our children:

1. Connect Before You Direct

Before giving your child directions,
squat to your child’s eye level and engage your child in eye-to-eye contact to
get his attention. Teach him how to focus: “Mary, I need your eyes.” “Billy, I
need your ears.” Offer the same body language when listening to the child. Be
sure not to make your eye contact so intense that your child perceives it as
controlling rather than connecting.

2. Address The Child

Open your request with the child’s name,
“Lauren, will you please…”

3. Stay Brief

We use the one-sentence rule: Put the main directive
in the opening sentence. The longer you ramble, the more likely your child is
to become parent-deaf. Too much talking is a very common mistake when dialoging
about an issue. It gives the child the feeling that you’re not quite sure what
it is you want to say. If she can keep you talking she can get you sidetracked.

4. Stay Simple

Use short sentences with one-syllable words. Listen
to how kids communicate with each other and take note. When your child shows
that glazed, disinterested look, you are no longer being understood.

5. Ask Your Child to Repeat the Request Back to You

If he can’t,
it’s too long or too complicated.

6. Make an offer the child can’t refuse

You can reason with a two
or three-year-old, especially to avoid power struggles. “Get dressed so you can
go outside and play.” Offer a reason for your request that is to the child’s
advantage, and one that is difficult to refuse. This gives her a reason to move
out of her power position and do what you want her to do.

7. Be Positive

Instead of “no running,” try: “Inside we walk,
outside you may run.”

8. Begin your Directives With “I want.”

Instead of “Get down,” say
“I want you to get down.” Instead of “Let Becky have a turn,” say “I want you
to let Becky have a turn now.” This works well with children who want to please
but don’t like being ordered. By saying “I want,” you give a reason for
compliance rather than just an order.

9. “When…Then.”

“When you get your teeth brushed, then we’ll begin
the story.” “When your work is finished, then you can watch TV.” “When,” which
implies that you expect obedience, works better than “if,” which suggests that
the child has a choice when you don’t mean to give him one.

10. Legs First, Mouth Second

Instead of hollering, “Turn off the
TV, it’s time for dinner!” walk into the room where your child is watching TV,
join in with your child’s interests for a few minutes, and then, during a
commercial break, have your child turn off the TV. Going to your child conveys
you’re serious about your request; otherwise children interpret this as a mere

11. Give Choices

“Do you want to put your pajamas on or brush your
teeth first?” “Red shirt or blue one?”

12. Speak Developmentally Correctly

The younger the child, the
shorter and simpler your directives should be. Consider your child’s level of
understanding. For example, a common error parents make is asking a three-year-
old, “Why did you do that?” Most adults can’t always answer that question about
their behavior. Try instead, “Let’s talk about what you did.”

13. Speak Socially Correctly

Even a two-year-old can learn
“please.” Expect your child to be polite. Children shouldn’t feel manners are
optional. Speak to your children the way you want them to speak to you.

14. Speak Psychologically Correctly

Threats and judgmental openers
are likely to put the child on the defensive. “You” messages make a child clam
up. “I” messages are non-accusing. Instead of “You’d better do this…” or “You
must…,” try “I would like….” or “I am so pleased when you…” Instead of
“You need to clear the table,” say “I need you to clear the table.” Don’t ask a
leading question when a negative answer is not an option. “Will you please pick
up your coat?” Just say, “Pick up your coat, please.”

15. Write It

Reminders can evolve into nagging so easily,
especially for preteens who feel being told things puts them in the slave
category. Without saying a word you can communicate anything you need said.
Talk with a pad and pencil. Leave humorous notes for your child. Then sit back
and watch it happen.

16. Talk The Child Down

The louder your child yells, the softer you
respond. Let your child ventilate while you interject timely comments: “I
understand” or “Can I help?” Sometimes just having a caring listener available
will wind down the tantrum. If you come in at his level, you have two tantrums
to deal with. Be the adult for him.

17. Settle The Listener

Before giving your directive, restore
emotional equilibrium, otherwise you are wasting your time. Nothing sinks in
when a child is an emotional wreck.

18. Replay Your Message

Toddlers need to be told a thousand times.
Children under two have difficulty internalizing your directives. Most three-
year-olds begin to internalize directives so that what you ask begins to sink
in. Do less and less repeating as your child gets older. Preteens regard
repetition as nagging.

19. Let Your Child Complete The Thought

Instead of “Don’t leave
your mess piled up,” try: “Matthew, think of where you want to store your soccer
stuff.” Letting the child fill in the blanks is more likely to create a lasting

20. Use Rhyme Rules

“If you hit, you must sit.” Get your child to
repeat them.

21. Give Likable Alternatives

You can’t go by yourself to the park;
but you can play in the neighbor’s yard.

22. Give Advance Notice

“We are leaving soon. Say bye-bye to the
toys, bye-bye to the girls…”

23. Open Up a Closed Child

Carefully chosen phrases open up closed
little minds and mouths. Stick to topics that you know your child gets excited
about. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no. Stick to specifics.
Instead of “Did you have a good day at school today?” try “What is the most fun
thing you did today?”

24. Use “When You…I Feel…Because…”

When you run away from mommy in
the store I feel worried because you might get lost.

25. Close The Discussion

If a matter is really closed to discussion, say
so. “I’m not changing my mind about this. Sorry.” You’ll save wear and tear
on both you and your child. Reserve your “I mean business” tone of voice for
when you do.

5 Steps to Raising Optimistic Children

5 Steps to Raising Optimistic Children
by Dr. Tony Fiore

I had just completed a session with 17-year old Julie who suffered from severe depression. Julie believed she was a total failure and would never be able to change anything in her life. Julie also felt all her shortcomings were her own fault. Where, I ask myself, did such a young person acquire this negative and fatalistic thinking?

The answer soon became apparent when I invited her parents into the session. They began discussing numerous life events and explaining them in ways that their children were learning. The car, for example, got dented because you can’t trust anybody these days; Mom yelled at brother because she was in a bad mood; you can’t get ahead in this world unless you know somebody, etc.

As a parent, your own thinking style is always on display and your children are listening intently!

The Importance of Optimism

Why should you want your child to be an optimist?

Because, as Dr. Martin Seligman explains:

“Pessimism (the opposite of optimism) is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement and even unexpectedly poor physical health.”

Children with optimistic thinking skills are better able to interpret failure, have a stronger sense of personal mastery and are better able to bounce back when things go wrong in their lives.

Because parents are a major contributors to the thinking styles of their children’s developing minds, it is important to adhere to the following five steps to ensure healthy mental habits in your children.

How Parents Can Help

Step 1: Learn to think optimistically yourself. What children see and hear indirectly from you as you lead your life and interact with others influences them much more than what you try to ‘teach’ them.

You can model optimism for your child by incorporating optimistic mental skills into your own way of thinking. This is not easy and does not occur over night. But with practice, almost everyone can learn to think differently about life’s events – even parents!

Step 2: Teach your child that there is a connection between how they think and how they feel. You can do this most easily by saying aloud how your own thoughts about adversity create negative feelings in you.

For example, if you are driving your child to school and a driver cuts you off, verbalize the link between your thoughts and feelings by saying something like “I wonder why I’m feeling so angry; I guess I was saying to myself: ‘Now I’m going to be late because the guy in front of me is going so darn slow. If he is going to drive like that he shouldn’t drive during rush hour. How rude.’”

Step 3: Create a game called ‘thought catching.’ This helps your child learn to identify the thoughts that flit across his or her mind at the times they feel worst. These thoughts, although barely noticeable, greatly affect mood and behavior.

For instance, if your child received a poor grade, ask:
“When you got your grade, what did you say to yourself?”

Step 4: Teach your child how to evaluate automatic thoughts. This means acknowledging that they things you say to yourself are not necessarily accurate.

For instance, after receiving the poor grade your child may be telling himself he is a failure, he is not as smart as other kids; he will never be able to succeed in school, etc. Many of these self-statements may not be accurate, but they are ‘automatic’ in that situation.

Step 5: Instruct your child on how to generate more accurate explanations (to themselves) when bad things happen and use them to challenge your child’s automatic but inaccurate thoughts. Part of this process involves looking for evidence to the contrary (good grades in the past, success in other life areas, etc).

Another skill to teach your child to help him or her think optimistically is to ‘decatastrophize’ the situation – that is – help your child see that the bad event may not be as bad or will not have the adverse consequences imagined. Few things in life are as devastating as we fear, yet we blow them up in our minds.

Parents can influence the thinking styles of their children by modeling the principals of optimistic thinking.

About the Author: Dr. Tony Fiore (http://www.angercoach.com) is a So. California licensed psychologist, and anger management trainer. His company, The Anger Coach, provides anger and stress management programs, training and products to individuals, couples, and the workplace.

For an easy step-by-step plan to build your relationship with your child and end your child’s difficult behavior forever, check out the “Complete Connection Parenting Community HERE.

The Secret Meaning of Loving Feelings

The Secret Meaning of Loving Feelings

June 3, 2012 by Mark Brady

Decades ago the Righteous Brothers pined forlornly about the sorry state of affairs that come calling when you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, especially after you’ve had a love, a love you don’t find every day. What the Righteous Brothers never really offered listeners though, is a hypothesis about where that lovin’ feeling actually went … and how we might investigate ways to bring it back. Me and my brain are here at this late date to offer one possible explanation … and a plan of action.

Essentially, every time I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling it became buried under one or more of the Dirty Dozen Defense Mechanisms. Those mechanisms invariably fired up limbic structures in my brain, structures like the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus. Once triggered, the parts that make up the HPA axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis) began secreting stress hormones into my blood stream. Those hormones produce the exact opposite feelings that oxytocin and endorphins produce, leaving me sad and forlorn and singing along with Don and Phil, the Everly Brothers … Bye-Bye Love.

Feeling love means I’m running soft, safe, undefended, expansive energy, as opposed to loss or fear, which most often show up as hard, constrictive, defensive, protective energy attempting to safeguard my body and brain. One of the reasons I can so often unconditionally love babies and pets is that they rarely trigger defensive reactions in me. On the other hand, one big life challenge is to be able to continue running, soft, safe, undefended expansive energy in the face of someone I’ve become disenchanted with, or around someone who has become disenchanted with me. But I can tell you from personal experience, that while it’s not necessarily easy, it’s not impossible.

Given this state of affairs, it’s useful for me to think of emotional reactions as early warning signals surfacing from down below the neck and also from the depths of the right brain primarily (in actuality, thoughts and feelings are probably widely distributed across many neurophysiological nodal points). Emotions are early warning signals because almost all of the (only) 40 conscious pieces of the 11 million data bits we take in at any moment are often apprehended by the Bully Interpreter brain. And the Interpreter is constantly distorting things conservatively, i.e. negatively and apprehensively.

Why I Write Listening Books

David Augsburger, a professor of pastoral care at Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of Caring Enough to Confront, has noticed that “being listened to is so close to being loved, that most people don’t know the difference.” It’s also a great way to combat my Bully Interpreter’s distortions. Turns out I’ve never lost that loving feeling in response to someone earnestly and undistractedly attempting to hear and deeply understand me. So, I think David’s right. One partial reason is that being listened to helps us discharge the increased levels of neurotoxic glucocorticoids that Big Emotion often generates in the wake of a grand HPA axis activation. We begin to feel less fear. Which means we generate fewer stress response neurotoxins. Which means our brains are freed up to process more energy and information as a result of make increasing connections (even with our heart, perhaps).

But also, deep listening, much like love, is radically seditious. It goes toe to toe with our culture of distraction

. It promotes the cultivation of radicalness and rebellion, fearlessness and defenselessness. Both listening and love live to go beyond themselves. Not only does our safety lie in fearless defenselessness, but therein also lies a pathway back to Rumi’s field out beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing. It’s in that field that we can each begin to breathe out and tell tender truths that permit Defense Mechanisms to dissolve. When we are able to do this successfully, we come back face to face with Rumi’s other great awareness: love is the default condition, the primary, subtle, driving creative energy of the universe. It’s the energy that grows flowers and trees and baby’s brains and children’s hearts.

Learning to listen skillfully is however, a VERY difficult practice. There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t find Bully Interpreter trying to convince me and others about the rightness and righteousness of what it believes. And not only is it adamant in its beliefs, it’s often inflexible in its ability to consider alternative possibilities. Not a great way to invoke and sustain loving feelings, unfortunately.  

The Benefits of Reclaiming Love

Using listening skills as a contemplative spiritual practice invariably seems to work to soften mental and physical structures inside me. Tensions I’m holding in body, mind and brain begin to ease, allowing the Bully Interpreter to relax. With such release I often find myself opening to the possibility of increasingly creative responses. As Neil Gaiman offers in this inspiring commencement address given recently to the graduating class at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, listening practice begins to foment not only a deep desire to “make good art,” but a conviction that I really can. And in my experience much of the good art in the world springs from … love. People who love who they are and what they do rarely lose that lovin’ feeling.

Attachment Parenting Is Feminism – Room for Debate

Attachment Parenting Is Feminism

Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik, an actress, is currently starring in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” She is the author of “Beyond the Sling.” She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience.

April 30, 2012

Attachment parenting is an umbrella term coined by a pediatrician, William Sears, to describe a style of parenting that embraces the normal biology of pregnancy, labor, breastfeeding and bonding, all in the name of raising children who demonstrate the psychological classification of being securely attached. By definition, it eschews notions of perfection but instead seeks to educate women and families about the natural, organic and normal ways our bodies were made and how to best maximize the potential for securely attached children who live in harmony with parents who are not afraid to be imperfect.

The women who pioneered attachment-parenting support groups and publications are not competitive celebrity divas with nannies on the side.

The women who pioneered groups supportive of attachment-parenting, like La Leche League International, and started publications like Mothering are not competitive corporate-minded trendy celebrity divas toting secret nannies on the side, nor are they perfection-driven bored subjugated barefoot lonely women setting feminism back 200 years. They are educated, humble and devoted women who believe it is just as much a feminist choice to be a parent as it is to not be one.

Here are examples of what mothers who practice attachment parenting are concerned about. We can about what hormonal contraception does to your body and your brain. We research why doctors prescribe birth control to teenagers and adults who don’t have a “regular” menstrual cycle. We object to routine inductions with pitocin and interventions during labor because of the risks to the mother and the baby. We believe that breast milk is biologically and nutritionally superior to anything formula manufacturers tell you is equal to it, and that sleeping next to your baby releases positive hormones that facilitate bonding. We have empowered ourselves and refuse to endure a male-centered obstetric history that has taken women’s bodies and molded them to their preferences for their convenience, their comfort and for their world view.

Now tell me how attachment parenting is inconsistent with feminism?

Ron Huxley Stirs It Up: Mayim’s views of attachment parenting is quite controversial which is why I have included it here on the Parenting Toolbox. What are your thoughts? Share them here or on our Facebook –> http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox