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Dream Parenting: Act/React or Act/Counteract?

Parenting can be considered a dance where two people, one big and one little, move in response to one another. Usually, there is one person in the lead and one person who follows. In families, it can be unclear who is leading. At times it is alright if a child leads but in the long run, parents must be in charge if the family is going to get the most out of their relationships. In order to do this, parents may need to redefine how they choose their dance steps. 

Try this new step: Instead of act vs react, try act vs counter act. Parents tend to react toward a child’s mis-reaction and this almost always ends in frustrated dancers. Don’t react to a child’s actions. Plan a counter action. Problems are predictable in that they will come up day after day after day. If what you tried to do (react) today doesn’t work, you can plan a counter act for tomorrow because the problem will be ready for you again. Parents can have a lot of practice with their new steps until it feels comfortable and natural. 

Parents don’t like the idea of act vs counter act because it sounds like a lot of work. It can be but it isn’t as frustrating as dancing the steps of act vs reaction. Parents will dislike that outcome even more. The key to dancing successfully is to be consistent with your counter action to your child’s action. Don’t fall back into the reaction with yelling, threatening or giving in. Try questioning, letting natural consequences be there own teacher or redirecting the child’s misbehaviors. There are many ideas available for counter action. Be creative. Do the opposite of what you usually do. Let the other parent cut in and take the lead in the dance when on is too tired. Sing your request, say nothing at all or whisper instead of lecturing. Do time in instead of time out. Or, just go walk the dog. 

Shame On Me: How to Parent Without Shame or Blame

by Ron Huxley

The default mode of parenting is to use shame in a desperate attempt to regain control of our home and our children. It is not that parents enjoy using negative tactics. In fact, parents universally describe the “necessity” of using shame or other aggressive tactics because “nothing else seems to work.” Parents feel powerless in their own homes. 

Shame differs from guilt in that guilt is the feeling of “doing” a wrong behavior and shame is a sense that “I am wrong” from doing that wrong behavior. It creates an inner world of worthlessness, badness, and feeling damaged or defective. Shame comes from social messages that you are bad when you do bad things. It is backed up by social rejection and isolation from not meeting others expectations or the failure to perform in a certain way. Fear may be involved in both guilt and shame except that guilt is fear of punishment and shame results in fear of abandonment. 

Parents reveal to me the road of desperation they end up on…they start off asking nicely and have their requests ignored. They give choices but the choices are dismissed. They provide structure but the child kicks down the limits. All attempts to parent in a positive way, including the use of rewards and social praise, breaks down into the one thing that their children seem to respond to: shame!

Shame can give short term results but the long term price is emotional suffering for both parent and child. The home becomes a prison of fear and breeds discouragement and anger. It kills the spirit of the child and sets up an intergenerational pattern of negative communication that erodes self esteem and destroys intimate relationships for life. 

Debating with parents about long term results of shame is not productive either. Parents who feel they have no other recourse will not let go of their grip on the tool of shame because that just increases the powerlessness of the situation. Further exploration of a parents original parenting toolbox shows me that there was only had two or three parenting tools in there to start. As a child grows older and more independent, the parent quickly burns through their limited tools and they feel they have no options left but to reach to the bottom of the box and use negative forms of parenting. The tools got into the toolbox parents because that is often one used by their parents. They were controlled by shame and no they are using it despite vows to never parent the way they were parented. A simple solution to this dilemma is to add more tools to the parenting toolbox and train parents on how and when to use them the next time the noncooperation crops up and it will…

The good news about behavior problems is that if they popped up today, they will pop up again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, etc. They are predictable! This gives parents a chance to form new strategies and add new tools to try with their children. If one tools doesn’t work, set it back in the box and try a new one until cooperation can be found that doesn’t require a one punch system of control. Trust me, the problem will come up again giving you another opportunity to find a way to manage it positively. 

You can get over 100 parenting tools in Ron Huxley’s ebook by clicking here now! You can also hire Ron to coach you on how to use these tools and create new strategies for parenting with more positive results. Click here for more information on how to regain control in your home. 

Parents need to stop thinking about how to “fix” their children’s behavior problems and begin to look at how to “re-source” them instead. Stop trying to stop tantrums or talking back and start re-connecting them to the source of the problems. What is your child needing that he or she cannot get or getting that he or she doesn’t want? Decode and recode your children to add social skills, self-soothing, understanding, competence, attention, love, affection, security that is driving the behaviors in the first place. 

It is time to put away punishment and use discipline which is to disciple or teach/guide a child to appropriate behaviors. The goal is not “stop irritating mommy” today but learn to live life successfully tomorrow! You can never deal with a negative by using a negative and expect a positive outcome. 

Visualize who and what your child is becoming and connect them to that source of choice-making, problem-solving, character. 


What does your heart desire?

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

A desire is defined as a “strong want or wish.” An even deeper meaning is to have such a longing for or yearning for something that everything else dims in comparison and the pull created by the desire shifts everything in life toward it. It can cause some very positive reactions in people to work toward a desire despite challenging odds or it can create some very distorted actions to get those desires met. 

These desires might include power, influence/significance, acceptance, challenge, curiosity, order, safety, honor, competence, fun/playfulness, connection, community, status, and peace. There are many more ways to describe these deep longings but this gives a simple list to focus on. 

Ask yourself what is the yearning of your heart and how do I get that desire met? Is this a healthy or unhealthy means to a legitimate end? Who provides this for me and how do I provide it to others? 

It is easy to focus on the emotions that accompany these desires or even more frequently, to focus on the behaviors they produce. All behavior, to one degree or another, is driven by a deeper desire. What does your behavior or the behavior of your children/family reveal to you about the desires of the heart? 

After you have made this internal inventory, ask yourself how you can met or get this desire met in a healthy way that will eliminate the inappropriate feelings and behaviors?

For example, a parent may be dealing with a defiant teenager who desires power, independence or competence. How can a parent help met that need in a way that is agreeable to both parent and child? Can more choices be offered or freedom allowed or rules re-negotiated? Address these desires in your heart in reaction to their yearnings: “I need to feel safe and honored in order to give your your desires” and vice versa. 

Try this for a week or two and see what difference it makes in your family?

» Need more help on clarifying your desires and finding real answers to life problems and parenting issues? Contact Ron Huxley today at

He Never Acts This Way At School!

“He Never Acts This Way At School!”
by Ron Huxley, LMFT

“The energy which makes a child hard to manage is the energy which afterward makes him a manager of life.” – Henry Ward Beecher”

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Have you ever heard a parent say this or perhaps said it yourself? Why do some children misbehave at home and not in other settings, like school? While the opposite situation might be true, where the child misbehaves at school and not home, let’s look at this common parenting frustration.

Teaching is a good definition of balanced discipline. In fact, the word discipline comes from the root word “disciplinare” which means to teach or instruct. Most parents understand discipline as reducing inappropriate behaviors (punishment) instead of helping children achieve competence, self-control, self-direction, and social skills. Of course, all parents want this but reinforcing appropriate behaviors seems like a luxury or fantasy when parents are having big problems with their children.

The Parenting Juggling Act

One reason for this may be the act of juggling work and family that so many contemporary parents find themselves performing. In this situation, only the most annoying or irritating behaviors are sure to get a parents attention. Children quickly learn that good behavior or even quiet, a self-directed behavior rarely gets the attention of overloaded parents. Good behavior is one less thing a parent has to deal with while bad behavior guarantees parents attention. This is what educators and therapists call “negative attention” – a powerful reinforcer of children’s misbehavior.

What’s the Model?

So when parents wonder why their child doesn’t misbehave in school we should investigate the school/teaching model a little closer to see what frustrated parents can use at home. Of course, as any teacher will admit, perfect behavior from children never occurs at school or anywhere else but let’s compare school behaviors to home discipline.

Schools are learning environments. Discipline requires a learning environment characterized by positive, nurturing parent-child relationships. Is your home a learning environment or an entertainment center? Are their books, activities and private spaces for children?

Teachers use a curriculum. Discipline occurs when a plan or structure is in place for children. Do you know what you want to teach your children? What values or ideas do you want your children to believe? Is there a set time or routine for learning these things? Are you available to the child for help and instruction? Do you have materials available to educate you about topics you want to teach your children? Are there regular discussions about daily responsibilities, spiritual ideas, personal dreams, and problem areas?

Grades are used to evaluate a child’s progress. Discipline can be both an instruction and a measurement of children’s behavior. What grade would you give your child in hygiene, social ability, responsibility, etc.? What rewards (physical or verbal) are given for “A” grades? Are parent-child conferences held to discuss strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for improvement? Do children get regular feedback from parents on how they are doing at home?

Teachers are in charge of the classroom and model appropriate behavior. Discipline is most effective when parents remember that they are the leaders of the home and “practice what they preach.” Are you firm and consistent in your discipline with your children? Do you model appropriate behavior for your children? Do you give the things, to your children, that you ask for, from your children, such as respect? Do you say what you mean rather than threaten or bribe children? Do you have a list of rules posted where children can see them? Do you allow children to “raise their hands” and ask questions? Do you listen attentively to those questions and give an appropriate answer?

Children are given opportunities to explore and understand the world and themselves. Discipline is about internal control and not just external control. Do you give your child choices that require him or her to think about consequence? Are children recognized for behaving in an appropriate manner? Are there any “field trips” that children go on to inspire, instruct, or experience appropriate behavior? Are children give opportunities to act in a responsible and trustworthy manner? Are children encouraged to help their siblings and work as teams? Are there any parties for celebrating hard work?

Classrooms have rules that children must follow. Are their assigned seats at the dinner table or car? Are there any rules about waiting, talking, and seeking help? Do children get to “line up first” or “pass out the snacks” for exemplary behaviors? Are consequences given for inappropriate behaviors? Do children get warnings about misbehavior? Do children get to go to recess when they misbehave? Are the rules discussed with the children, posted where everyone can see them, and frequently reviewed?

Schools have recesses, school holidays, and summer breaks. Discipline is about doing nothing as much as it is about doing something. Do you allow your child to make mistakes and decide difficult (but not dangerous) situations on their own? Are there healthy balances between fun and chores, rest and responsibilities, work-time and playtime? Do you allow your child to simply be a child? Are developmental expectations appropriate to the age and abilities of your child? Do you allow yourself to be off-duty by having other adults to watch over your children? Are plans made, in family meetings, for fun as a family? Is quality time a regular part of your time with your children?

Novel Situations

While this may not cover all aspects of school routines or discipline practices, it does ask some very reflective questions. It is possible we missed the most basic reason for children’s different behaviors, namely, novel situations and conditional love. Novel situations refer to a phenomenon that affects a child’s behavior when in a new environment. A new environment is unpredictable and may require a child to be on his or her best behavior until the child learns what the rules and consequences are or what they can get away with. Home is often predictable. The child already knows what they can or cannot get away with.

Conditional vs Unconditional Love

Conditional love refers to the communication of worth a child will get from another individual based on their behavior. A teacher may only consider certain behaviors to be worthy of his or her love and care. At the root, this is a good strategy. It advocates reinforcing only positive behaviors and ignoring negative behavior but the long-term fruit can have devastating consequences for children’s self-esteem. A child’s sense of self should never be based on conditions. A child is worthy of love, dignity, and worth regardless of what they do. Reinforcement and even approval can be placed on a child’s behavior to communicate what is appropriate or inappropriate. A child may not feel this conditional love at home, knowing that mom will always love him or her and so manipulate this to their advantage.

Take a few moments to review these questions. If you are one of those parents who has said, “My child never behaves this way at school?” maybe now, you can finally find out why, and be able to say your child behaves appropriately at home as well as school.

> Get more tools for the job of parenting with an online consult. Contact Ron today at for more information…

Using Your Parenting E.A.R.S.

Someone once joked that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we talked. Not bad advice actually. Many parents would do well to heed that advice. This doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t talk to their children. It’s just that they shouldn’t be so quick to give advice or lecture of the right and wrongs of a problem. Listen first, then 
talk. Better yet, ask questions to get at the solutions to children’s problems. This causes them to feel as if they came up with the answer and take more ownership for the problem. E.A.R.S. is a helpful acronym for parents who want to improve their problem-solving skills with their children. 

E = Elicit

The starting point for problem-solving with children is to elicit possible solutions that already exist in the child’s repertoire. Ask questions such as, “What have you been doing to make your situation better?” This implies 
that there is a solution and that the child has the ability to utilize it. If they don’t have an answer to this question, try this one: “What would your _______ (supply a relevant name here) say you are doing about the situation?” 
This implies that the child is already solving his problem. The fact of the matter is that every response to a problem is a solution to a problem. Only some responses are better than others and have fewer severe consequences. The job of parents is to acknowledge children’s efforts and then direct them to use better responses.

If the child persists that there wasn’t anything good about what he did in the situation, then ask, “What was the part of the situation that was better than the other parts?” And if the child does recite some ‘better than other 
parts’ of the situation, ask, “How did you do that?” This encourages the child to learn from their own behaviors and increase positive responses. 

If the child suffered severe consequences for his response to the situation, ask, “What did you learn from the situation?” Most successes are the result 
of trial and error and determining what doesn’t work. 

A = Amplify

Amplify refers to the use of questions to get more details about any positive efforts toward problem-solving. Use who, what, where, when, and how questions. For example, “Who noticed you do that?” or “When did you decide to do that?” or “How did they respond to your solution?” Never use why questions. Why is a very judgmental word and will stop all attempts to help 
the child problem-solving because he feels bad about his efforts. Over time this can develop into a pattern of behavior where the child never tries 
anything new because he is afraid of failing. If he doesn’t try, he doesn’t fail. At least that is the rationale.

R = Reinforce

Years of behavioral change research have taught us that there are two ways to create change in others. Reward desired behaviors and ignore or 
mildly punish undesirable behavior. So be sure to reinforce any effort to solving a problem. Even failed attempts are worthy of acknowledgment. The 
child must want and value positive change. Reinforcement will be the motivating force for this value. Be sure, though, that you use verbal or social reinforcement. Don’t give in to bribes (candy, toys, and money) to 
reinforce the child. This will reinforce dependent and manipulative behavior and decrease independent problem-solution. The best reinforcers are a 
surprise. When children do not know when to expect a reinforcer (a compliment or public acknowledgment) they will be more motivated, ready for reinforcement at any moment in time. 

S = Start again

Learning to problem-solving, and listening to our children to help them, is a process. It can’t be done once and then left alone. It must be done over and over again. Repetition is a fundamental principle of learning. The more you do something the better you get at it. And now that the child has found a solution to a problem, plan for the next one. Most problems pop up again in life. Brainstorm solutions for the next time. And finally, treat every problem as an experiment where new and clever solutions can be tested. So use those two ears to listen more then you talk but when you do talk, ask solution-focused questions to help children problem-solve.

CONTACT Ron today for an appointment at 530-339-6888 or

New evidence shows that certain types of praise can actually backfire, making kids less successful and giving them low self-esteem.

One recent report explains the results of two experiments that compare the results of “person praise” (praise for personal qualities) and “process praise” (praise for behavior). Overall, person praise (“You are so smart!”) predisposed children to feel ashamed following failure, since they attributed the failure to their own self – some intrinsic quality. Process praise (“You worked really hard!”), on the other hand, did not have this effect, as children attributed failure to a factor that they can control – some extrinsic quality.

A similar study reveals the results of three experiments that tested the effects of inflated praise. Overall, inflated praise sent the message that kids need to continue to meet unreasonably high standards. Inflated praise decreased challenge-seeking behavior in children with low self-esteem, causing them to miss out on learning experiences. However, in children with high self-esteem, inflated praise had the opposite effect. It inspired these kids to continue to set high expectations for themselves.
Generic person-centered praise implies that a child has a specific quality, such as intelligence, aptitude, or other talent, that is responsible for his or her achievements. Non-generic process-centered praise implies that a child’s achievements are performance-based. Person praise has been found to increase the attention that kids pay to errors – their own and others. Such attention is caused by the belief that an error threatens the possession of a positive trait. Further, after an error or failure, children who received person praise displayed less task persistence, less task enjoyment, and worse task performance.

In general, inflated and/or person-centered praise undermines motivation in children with low self-esteem. However, when sincere process-centered praise is heaped upon children, it encourages performance that is attributed to controllable causes, promotes autonomy, and establishes attainable standards and expectations.

We all think our children are great, and so we should. But, as parents we must also be mindful of setting our kids up for failure with inappropriate praise. Praising hard work seems to be a much better motivator than praising intrinsic qualities that the child has no control over.
Achievement is the result of performance and behavior, not always inherent traits, and children should be motivated to love learning, engage in new experiences, and even risk failure to achieve goals. Praise should help children flourish, instead of becoming an obstacle to success.

via Punishing with Praise | Brain Blogger)

What is in your Parenting Toolbox? A study on the most widely used parenting tool revealed that most parents use time-out or spanking to discipline their children. When asked how effective their primary tool was only 1/3 stated that it worked consistently for them. That left 66.9% that felt it didn’t work. Why use a tool that doesn’t work? Because parents don’t know what else to do…

This is the mission and goal of the Ron Huxley’s Parenting Toolbox: To give parents the right tools to do the job of parenting.

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Teaching independence with the piece of apple principle

Putting away laundry is often a long, lonely and profoundly boring activity that takes up so much time.
Babies generate a huge amount of laundry and cloth nappies. Toddlers and preschoolers with their rough and tumble, exploratory play.
We eventually work out a routine but countless hours are devoted to it each week. Piles loom and perhaps get moved from room to room or chair to basket.
Children love the side by side play while we are working. As I sweep he’s sweeping too. As I cook, he’s stirring too. They love to imitate and we can teach them in small steps how to do the larger things with the piece of apple technique.


Piece of apple technique

Let me tell you a quick story about the piece of apple technique. My boys love apples. If I quickly cut the apple into two huge slices either side of the core. Cut those two pieces into three, then cut the two pieces off the odd-shaped original apple, we quickly have eight pieces of apple.
Those apples when left on a plate disappear almost before the plate hits the table. Also when there’s one person eating the apple they are quick to eat it all. However, when I suggest they eat the apple by just biting it, perish the thought now, the apple isn’t often finished.
  • It somehow becomes too much to eat by itself
  • We eat in that classic pattern and leave big chunks at the top and bottom
  • It’s not a satisfactory outcome for me the apple buyer and them the apple eater.

They need to eat one piece then the next piece and so on to complete. It won’t always be like that but right now this system works for us both; the piece of apple technique.

So what does this story have to do with laundry?

We need to give our children a piece of the apple by teaching them and training them in the laundry process; piece by piece. Eventually they will be able to eat the whole apple and not blink an eye.


Ron Huxley Eats: I love simple parenting techniques and this is as basic as it comes…thankfully. Teach children to do tasks one step at a time but remember to teach them. Don’t yell or threaten to get compliance. Parents have to look at the job of parenting when in a challenging moment with a child.