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Ron’s Reading: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries
One of the most common aggravations experienced by parents is the “power struggle”. It usually happens when the parent has to get to work or needs to finish dinner or help the child with their homework. Right in the middle of this urgent time, the child decides to exercise their will and demand a treat or refuse to put on their shoes or wants to argue about some topic they really don’t know anything about. Regardless of the circumstances, the outcome is two yelling, arguing, snorting, bug-eyed people who just want the other person to do what they want them to do. No fun for anyone!
Why does this happen so often in families? Danny Silk is one of my favorite authors and I recommend his books to many of the parents I work within family therapy or parenting workshops. In his book: “Keeping Your Love On: Connections, Communication & Boundaries” he shares how a family is a group of powerful people who are trying to learn how to live in powerful ways. He writes: “If you heard someone described as a powerful person, you might assume he or she would be the loudest person in the room, the one telling everyone else what to do. But powerful does not mean dominating. In fact, a controlling, dominating person is the very opposite of a powerful person. Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.”
The trick, for parents, is not to demand respect but to create a respectful environment where non-respect, talking back and control simply can’t exist. There just isn’t enough oxygen for those negative elements to survive. Learning how to be a powerful and responsible person is one of the most important tasks of parenting.
You can get more information (and read along with me) on Danny’s book here: Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries
Respect Your Parents…and Your Child
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Mutual respect based on the assumption of equality, is the inalienable right of all human beings. Parents who show respect for the child–while winning his respect for them–teach the child to respect himself and others. Equality in this sense is treating each person with respect and integrity, no matter what their age. This also leaves room for parents to be in charge and to set some non-negotiable rules and limits, but to do so in a respectful manner.
Parenting Success In Small Steps
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
The key to building the family of your dreams is to measure your success in tiny steps. Stop looking for the big changes and focus on the small. Eventually you will get to the big ones but only one tiny step at a time.
Parents have a shortage of time. The quickest way end a parents dream strategy is feeling “overwhelmed.” Map out your day with your family in terms if hours and minutes. Build in time cushions so that you can get everything done. Eliminate anything that is not absolutely essential to the type of relationships you want and deserve to have.
Fear destroys families and why you must make it “feel” safer
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Fear is one of the biggest reasons for family power struggles and defiance in children. It shifts the atmosphere of the home and causes use to react instead of acting in a safe and sane manner toward one another. All families fight. You can create a S.A.F.E.R. H.O.M.E. to battle against problems instead of people you love.
Are you in a constant power struggle with your children? Feeling a little helpless to manage the continual arguments and competition between children in your home? Tired of yelling, bribing, and negotiating to get cooperation? Well here is a 9 step plan to help you create a “safer home”:
S = Stop what you are doing. Your probably reacting to the stress of the situation and making things worse. Take some time to…
A = Assess the situation, environment, mood and motivations of your child(ren). What are they doing? Why are they doing it? How are you handling it? Who is involved? Just notice for now…
F =Focus on one problem or priority to address. Don’t try to tackle all the issues. Try and address the core issue that affects the most people/variables. This will allow you to…
E = Empathize with your child’s feelings. State: “I can understand how you would feel this way or want to act in a certain way, however…”
R = Respond (versus reacting) by offering alternative solutions or asking for responses from the children to come up with the alternatives themselves. This activates all areas of the brain through empathy development (right brain and emotional centers of the brain) and logical thought (left brain and cause and effect areas of the brain)…
H = Help children with suggestions for things they could try if they cannot come up with their own or if they won’t do it. “Would you like some ideas? What if we do x or y?”…
O = Offer choices. Would you rather share the toy or find a new one? Brush teeth before or after putting on your pajamas? The more choices and the smaller they are spread out through the day the more compliance you will get. Choices mean power but only offer ones you can live with and be ready to…
M = Maintain your position when they go for that third choice you didn’t offer them. If they do this, you know you are playing a game that no one will win. You may have to be a broken record and repeat the choice two choices two times (this is important to only do it twice) and then…
E = Execute the choice everyone agreed to or take action if they can’t or won’t agree to one. You chose A or B. This is “do or die” when it comes to parenting. Be ready to stick to your choice and don’t back down. If you do, you give total control back to your child. The fight might be tough today but tomorrow it will be easier and easier the day after that until finally it will be a rare day that you have to fight it at all. Won’t that be nice and safe?
Prayer isn’t your typical parenting tool but it should be…families can use all the help they can get in overcoming the challenges that face them in today’s society. Bring the power of Heaven to your aid and begin calling into reality what you want for you and your children today. We can’t provide direction for our family based on our history. We must live from our imaginations and what we need in our future where things have not yet been decided.
Use our FREE Tool “The Future Starts Now” to build the family of your dreams. It will provide you with a clear path to marshaling the resources of Heaven and your relational energy on your behalf. You deserve more joy, peace and love in your family.
PS – You can get even more powerful parenting tools when you join our “MORE” Newsletter. Click here…
We live in a broken world, full of broken families and broken hearts, resulting in anger, depression and anxiety. When people come to see a family therapist, they want change but they want other members of the family to change, not them. How much pain do we have to go through before we are willing to do something different than we have always done before? Listen to Ron Huxley, Family Therapist, as he shares some insights on how to create love and honor in the home to have real, permanent change in the family.
Be sure to share this with a friend…
Whose the Black Sheep of the Family?
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
Some people call them the “black sheep” of the family and are content to let them stay that way. Others try to change them and take them to psychologists and doctors. A few give up on them all together. This child is the “identified problem child” and many homes spend a lot of time and energy dealing with the member of the family. This rebellious, acting out child is most often seen in dysfunctional homes, where substance or physical abuse is taking place. The identified problem child serves a very important role in this type of family by balancing out the imbalance and protecting the abusive parent from outside interventions. In a lesser degree, even nonabusive families have children who cause more stress and trouble than other children in the home. This child resists parent’s efforts at discipline, is constantly mischievous, and appears to enjoy the attention that getting into trouble provides.
Family therapists have determined that the symptoms of the “identified problem” child are often a reaction to the family’s state of imbalance. This imbalance can be anything from severe abuse to a mild family stressor, such as the illness of a parent or the loss of fathers job. The negative behavior of the “identified problem-child” may be an effort, albeit unconsciously, to alleviate the families pain. The child becomes a stabilizing force to reduce stress and thereby return the family to its previous state of balance, even if it is an imbalanced one. A teenagers acting out, a school-age child’s poor grades, a young child’s temper tantrums — all may be efforts to stabilize an unstable system.
Thomas was an “A” student up until his parents announcement of their divorce. Suddenly, he began getting failing grades on his school report card. Fortunately, his parents recognized this behavior as a reaction to their devastating news and brought him in for therapy. After some time, Thomas’ bad grades were more than his depression over mom and dad’s split. They were also a way for him to save his parent’s marriage by forcing them to focus on him and away from the pain of the divorce. He overheard his parents saying that they would have to come to the school together to talk to his teacher. This was a glimmer of hope, however feeble and small, that he could influence his parent’s decision.
Many parents react to the behavior and not to the underlying family system issues that might be taking place. This is because, for many parents, it is easier to use the child as a scapegoat then focus on their own issues and problems.
Susan was an overly aggressive child. She was kicked out of several preschools and was finally referred to a therapist when she viciously bit another child, drawing blood. The doctor recommended medication, but at 4 years of age, the parents felt something else might work. Over time, it was found that Susan hurt other children to express her own feelings of being hurt. Due to her poor communication skills, she demonstrates her own internal state by aggressively acting out the role of “I hurt, therefore I will hurt others.” Her biological father had abandoned Susan when she was just a baby and her mother had recently married another man that Susan didn’t like. Her mother never saw the rejection as a reason for her behavior because she was so young when the biological father left.
When children are misbehaving they are said to be “acting out.” What is the child acting out, exactly? According to family systems theory, they are acting out the family’s pain. Stated another way, when the family experiences sudden change, for better or worse, and members undergo stress, the “problem child” pops up ready to stabilize the family system. Parents who are able to read their child’s behavior in this way will be able to help them express it in a more positive manner and cope with their “big” feelings or anger, frustration, and loss.
In some cases the best way to deal with the “child’s problem” is to include the whole family. Obviously, the child is not the real problem anyway and the whole family is affected by, and affecting, the child’s behavior. The first task of the family is to unmask the real problem and relabel it as a family issue versus a child centered one. This can be difficult, as other members of the family may have to share some of the blame and resist stepping down from the ideal child or parent pedestal. The next task is to find family focused solutions to the problem. This might involve improving family communication, adjusting family boundaries and rules, and renegotiating family activities.
In the case of Thomas, the parents did not get back together but they did increase their involvement with him and reassure them of their love for him, regardless of the divorce. It took a while for his grades to improve but with patience and cooperation they were able to get them back to normal. With Susan, the family started more family oriented activities and had the new father pick her up from preschool a couple of times a week to spend some one on one time together. This helped her feel connected to the new dad, lessening the hurt she felt from her biological father. With time, she started calling this new person “dad” and her aggressiveness completely stopped.
Not all children act out because of internal struggles but it does occur frequently enough that parents need to look for this as a possible explanation for their child’s behavior. They will have to set aside their own issues and struggles to accomplish this and that could be a difficult thing for many. Family members may need to redraw family roles and responsibilities, and change, even in the best of circumstances, is a difficult experience. The intervention for identified problem children is to look at the entire family system. Sometimes, the problem is bigger than we think!
Parenting & Pain
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
It is hard to be on top of our parenting game when you are in a lot of emotional pain. This is especially challenging if the origin of this pain comes from the children that we are trying to parent. It might be simplistic to say but pain is “painful.” It hurts! It shuts us down and drives a wall between us and others so we can’t be hurt anymore. We want to retreat to nurse our wounds before risking more in relationships. Unfortunately, the everyday tasks of life have to be completed and our children continue to need us. As a compromise to this situation we become robotic in our actions. We are hyper-functional but we are hypo-relational. We get stuff done but we are just going through the motions and have no e-motions to share. We are too raw!
If you are in this place, make a resolution to find some help through good friends, therapists, doctors, etc. There are lot of support groups and parenting educations classes in your community. Be determined not to repeat past problems. Find new ideas and new support to achieve new, less painful interactions with your family. Second, be OK with being in a place of pain but don’t let it define you. You feel bad but YOU are not bad. Hurtful feelings are normal responses to hurtful actions they are not meant to be permanent. You will have better days again but don’t allow shame to pull you deeper into that dark place of despair. Set some boundaries, find some help and get mad a shame. It is not your friend!
Take back control of your home: 101 Parenting Tools: Building the Family of Your Dreams