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Family Healer School

Ron Huxley’s FamilyHealerSchool.com provides families with FREE help on parenting, anxiety, trauma, child behavior, spirituality and more. You can find healing for you and your family with multimedia content, downloadable resources, quizzes, and inspirational meditations. Our vision is to see families healed and living in complete abundance.

Get more information now: Click here!

Healing Strategies for Hurt Children (and adults)

The four-fold strategy for healing hurt children includes:

  1. Calm Down The Body/Brain
  2. Elevate Executive Functioning Skills
  3. Rewrite Our Narratives
  4. Deepen Our Inner/Outer Connections. 

This is a holistic approach that is “Bottom Up / Top Down /and Spiritual Surround”

Calming down the body and brain is necessary for the thinking brain to come online. When the nervous system is in a “fight or flight” response to stress, either real or perceived, the body will work to protect itself from harm. This is important if you step into the line of traffic and a car is speeding toward you. You don’t have time to pull out your phone and do a web search on “best ways to avoid being hit by a car.” Your body/brain system will do this for you without conscious thought. We have an amazing brain that can operate under very difficult situations that would be too overwhelming or painful to process all at once. This skill doesn’t serve us well, however, when it trauma is continually triggered at work, school, or home. In those situations, the emotional brain hijacks the thinking brain and dysregulation occurs.

Elevating the executive functioning skills is a misunderstood problem when working with a hurt child. Executive skills are centered in the prefrontal area of the brain (behind the forehead and eyes) and perform emotional regulation, self-control, planning and organization, working memory, and moral reasoning. These are areas that are naturally underdeveloped in children. In traumatized children, there is a dramatic delay that decreases brain size and disconnects signals needed to use these skills. Healing strategies will “practice” these skills in a playful format.

Re-writing life narratives is the third healing strategies. Trauma wants to interpret our identity and produce negativity in our hearts and homes. A hurting child will re-act out hurt on others and the world around them because this is how they see themselves. A new, more positive and accurate worldview is needed. Adults are the co-authors who modeling heightened awareness of thoughts and emotions and call out the child’s true identity.

Deepening inner and outer connections are not just the final goal of healing strategies. It is also where we start. The support of loving parents and professionals is needed because the work cannot be done in isolation. Negativity can be controlled in the “atmosphere” of the home even when it cannot be managed in the child. When the home is too cold or hot, the temperature can be adjusted to improve the general mood. Deep expression of compassion for self and others open the heart for healing. Additionally, spiritual practices, such as forgiveness, release the pain that blocks intimacy in our relationships.

Get more information on keynote addresses and trauma-informed training on “Healing Strategies for Hurt Children” by contacting Ron Huxley at 805-709-2023 or rehuxley@gmail.com.

A family is a group of power-full people…

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

 

Are you Parenting a Prince or a Pauper?

Previously posted on Parenting Toolbox November 2014 by Ron Huxley, LMFT

There are areas in our parenting where we think like princes or princesses. We are fully confident in our abilities to handle a situation. There are also areas where we think like paupers, poor in attitude and low in confidence. A prince is rich in resources and doesn’t worry about a positive future. They know respect and honor from those around them. A pauper lives by survival skills and manipulation and secrecy is the game of life. A prince feels deserving of worthy and is valued and feels valuable. A pauper feels worthlessness, shame, and guilt.

Are you a consciously parenting a prince or a pauper? Do you feel confident and worthy to the task? Are you controlled by guilt, manipulation, and shame? Do you experience respect or disdain from your family members? Is your household ruled by love or fear?

It is possible to think like a prince in some areas of our lives and like a pauper in others at the same time. It may not be all of our parenting that suffers but there may be some key areas that are creating some big trouble. Take time to honestly evaluate where you are thinking like a prince or a pauper. Allow yourself to find new value and think differently about your family relationships. Create a self-care plan. Read, watch, listen or hang out with people who believe they are a prince and princess. They will model how to have a different mindset for parenting and life.

A parenting pauper has few or no tools to build a family of their dreams. A parenting prince or princess has many tools in their parenting toolbox. Get more parenting tools by using our online parenting ecourses in our Family Healer School!

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Co-Parenting Isn’t Working? Try Parallel Parenting.

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Many divorced parents are frustrated about their co-parenting arrangements. No matter what they try to do to work things with their ex, all of their efforts end up in conflict. Co-parenting feels more like game where there are no winners.

In these situations, the best advice is “no contact is no conflict”. If it wasn’t for the shared children they would have no contact and then there would be no problem but since that isn’t the case how do you co-parent with no contact? The answer is Parallel Parenting!

The situation reminds me of small children who are learning to share. Before they develop the skills to play cooperatively, they engage in parallel play. Both types of play look alike but when you watch more closely you realize that they are in the same room, with similar toys, playing next to one another but they are not really playing together. They are quite disengaged. Eventually, development will help create the skills needed for cooperative play. In the case of high-conflict divorce, parents may have to let go of the more mature cooperative parenting and shift to parallel parenting.

Parallel parenting purposefully disengages from the conflictual partner and concentrates on connection with the child. It may involve one parent focusing on dealing with the child’s school and the other on their soccer games. While both parents need to agree on major decisions, they will differ on daily logistics about bedtime routines, acceptable television watching, choice of baby sisters, and church attendance. When the daily heat can be turned down between parents, it makes the bigger decisions easier to navigate.

Parallel parenting protects the children. Research clearly demonstrates that high-conflict divorce results in higher rates of behavioral disturbances and mental illness later in life. More commonly, when a child tries to have a positive relationship with both parents who do not have a positive relationship with each other, they experience a “loyalty bind.” When the child is with parent A, he misses parent B. The child might even feel that he is being disloyal to parent B when he is with parent A and vice versa. This is easily intensified by parents who talk negatively about the other parent in front of the child. It can also occur when one parent acts like a victim causing the child to worry about them. Another way is leaning on your child for moral support and treating the child like the co-parent instead of a child.

It is a delicate balance to parallel parent and break down loyalty binds. A parents natural inclination is to protect their child and if they believe the other parent is harmful then…

The truth is that both parents are important to the child. To really protect them and find some sanity in the relationship, try using alternative methods to communication than face-to-face, like email or a notebook. Keep the wording factual about the child’s health, sleeping patterns, school events, weekend schedules, medical care, etc. Request separate school notices or records. Avoid showing up at the same events without prior knowledge. When you do end up at the same event, make a huge effort to demonstrate working together. You might actually find you can do it all the time!

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6 Ways to Heal Your Vagus Nerve

inner-healing:

6 Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More

Source: http://healthycures.org/6-ways-to-instantly-stimulate-your-vagus-nerve-to-relieve-inflammation-depression-migraines-and-more/

I read an article yesterday that has me extremely excited about the implications. The article is called “Hacking the Nervous System” by Gaia Vince (http://mosaicscience.com/story/hacking-nervous-system). In the article, the author describes the experience of a woman who suffered from severe, debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and her eventual treatment with a device which minimized inflammation by simply stimulating the vagus nerve. What this means, is that by activating the vagus nerve which works through the parasympathetic nervous system, we can greatly influence inflammation and the immune system. The role of the brain on body inflammation can be profound. If you suffer from digestive complaints, high blood pressure, depression or any inflammatory condition, please read on. Let me explain the possible implications step by step.
What is the vagus nerve?
Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More 6 Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More vagus nerveFirst of all, the vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body which originates in the brain as cranial nerve ten, travels down the from go the neck and then passes around the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart and lungs. This nerve is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part (opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which is ‘fight of flight’).

Vagal tone
The tone of the vagus nerve is key to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Vagal tone is measured by tracking your heart-rate alongside your breathing rate. Your heart-rate speeds up a little when your breathe in, and slows down a little when you breathe out. The bigger the difference between your inhalation heart-rate and your exhalation heart-rate, the higher your vagal tone. Higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.

What is high vagal tone associated with?
High vagal tone improves the function of many body systems, causing better blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, improved digestion via better production of stomach basic and digestive enzymes, and reduced migraines. Higher vagal tone is also associated with better mood, less anxiety and more stress resilience. One of the most interesting roles of the vagus nerve is that it essentially reads the gut microbiome and initiates a response to modulate inflammation based on whether or not it detects pathogenic versus non-pathogenic organisms. In this way, the gut microbiome can have an affect on your mood, stress levels and overall inflammation.

What is low vagal tone associated with?
Low vagal tone is associated with cardiovascular conditions and strokes, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, and much higher rates of inflammatory conditions. Inflammatory conditions include all autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, autoimmune thyroid conditions, lupus and more).

How do we increase vagal tone?
In the article above, vagal tone was increased through a device that stimulated the vagus nerve. The good news is that you have access to this on your own, but it does require regular practice. To some degree, you are genetically predisposed to varying levels of vagal tone, but this still doesn’t mean that you can’t change it. Here are some ways to tone the vagus nerve:

Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs stimulates and tones the vagus nerve.
Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, humming mechanically stimulates it. You can hum a song, or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’.
Speaking. Similarly speaking is helpful for vagal tone, due to the connection to the vocal cords.
Washing your face with cold water. The mechanism her is not known, but cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve.
Meditation, especially loving kindness meditation which promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself and others. A 2010 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik found that increasing positive emotions led to increased social closeness, and an improvement in vagal tone.
Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone.
The implications of such simple and basic practices on your overall health, and in particular on inflammation are far-reaching. If you suffer from an inflammatory condition, digestive upset, high blood pressure or depression, a closer look at vagal tone is highly recommended. We’ve known for years that breathing exercises and meditation are helpful for our health, but it is so fascinating to learn the mechanism by which they work. I hope this short article has inspired you to begin a meditation practice, as it has for me, and also to look for other means to manage the body’s inflammatory response.

References:

Forsythe P, Bienenstock J, Kunze WA.Vagal pathways for microbiome-brain-gut axis communication. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:115-33.

Kok, B, Fredrickson, B, Coffey, K, et al. How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health: Perceived Positive Social Connections Account for the Upward Spiral Between Positive Emotions and Vagal Tone. Psychological Science 2013 24: 1123

Punishment is outdated…or is it?

Punishment is outdated…or is it it? How faith-based families discipline their children

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

One of the most frequently used methods of parenting is spanking. Shocking? Yes, but parenting polls continue to report that parents “fall back” to old habits of when they where parented. In the past, American society advocated for parents to spank their children. A sign of good parenting used to be if you spanked your disobedient child or not. Today, the American attitude is just the opposite. If a parent spanks their child, they are considered abusive and threatened to be reported to the authorities.

The reason for this shift in parenting methods is obvious: Too many parents spank out of anger and hurt their children. There is another reason for not spanking that is a lot more reasonable: it isn’t effective and there are so many other parenting tools that can be used. Long-term, negative outcomes of spanking is delinquency, substance abuse, and psychological problems.

Punishment and Discipline is not the same thing. Punishment refers to threatening, hitting, or using harsh treatment that might include prolonged isolation, humiliation and shaming behaviors. Discipline is about teaching or guiding children in the right direction so that they can be responsible people.

Christian parents use the verse, from the Bible, that “whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24. This verse has nothing to do with hitting children. It is all about guiding children and being a moral leader and example to them.

Another verse states: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4. Parents that use punishment do not produce children who feel happy and confident. It teaches them to be sneakier and models force as an answer to problems.

If parents today really thought about their own upbringing, they would remember that spanking didn’t help them. Many would tell stories that were terrifying and painful, emotionally and physically. Why use that method to parents our own children? Better to find tools that work.

Get a special report on the 4 Reasons Children Misbehave and how you can redirect your child to be responsible and fun to be around. Click here now!

Don’t Let Depression Destroy Your Life

Don’t Let Depression Destroy Your Life: A Special Report on Treatment

Edited by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Since the end of the Second World War, the rates of depression around the world have soared. Depression is an illness that can destroy lives ad families. Many people try various forms of treatment before any improvement is realized. Many are not so lucky and end up paying the ultimate price. Drugs and medication are one way to treat depression. However there has been a lot of criticism in recent years over the amount of medication we are taking. Depression can be treated naturally and the natural approach should be attempted first if possible.

Natural Treatments:

Getting good nights sleep is essential. Sleep and mood are closely linked. When we are tired we react to things differently than we do when we have had adequate rest. Remember to sleep well and regularly.

Caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided. They do give you temporary energy but have been known to deplete your serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels are a prime cause of depression.

Take a multi vitamin everyday. This is especially important if your lifestyle causes you to skip meals. Low vitamin deficiency has been linked to depression.

You may want to try getting in touch with your spiritual side. This can be done in a variety of ways. If you enjoy going to church, this is a good opportunity. You may want to look at prayer and meditation as well. You do not have to be overly religious to be spiritual. There are many ways to get there.

Finally, you may want to try getting more exercise. This doesn’t mean marathon training. Start out slow and build up if you feel the need. Exercise helps release endorphins which make you feel more empowered. There is also the health benefits attached to more activity.

The natural approach may be effective. It can also have other positive influences on your overall health.

The natural approach isn’t always the best or most effective. However, if the depression isn’t severe and the person isn’t suicidal or incapacitated, then it is recommended to at least give the natural way a chance.

There are many natural remedies that can be tried before trying drugs and medication. Some have tried that natural remedy known as St. John’s wort. This has been known to improve the mood of some depression sufferers without any side effects.

Those that suffer from depression should avoid excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant so it will slow your body down. It could react with your body’s chemistry and make your condition worse. Alcohol is also a toxin that they body does not need.

Try to eat a well balances diet. Loss of vitamins and minerals are directly linked with depression. Make time to eat despite the type of lifestyle you have.

You may want to consider cognitive behavior therapy. This will help you refocus your thought and generate a more positive feeling. Your thoughts have a direct bearing on your mood. The more negative they are the more likely you are to become depressed.

Stress Management:

If you lead a stressful lifestyle, then some stress management training could be for you. Stress can be the cause of all kinds of ailments, not only depression. Keeping your stress levels low and learning to deal with highly stressful situations can go a long way in helping your depression.

You may want to try helping others. Sometimes doing volunteer work and helping those less fortunate will help. It can be quite rewarding and can negate some of those negative thoughts about yourself.

If the natural approach does not work, you should not feel bad. It is fine to take medications if this is what will help. You can at least be pleased for giving the natural approach a try.

Family Members With Depression:

If someone you love is suffering from depression, it is only natural to want to help. Family members can provide an incredible amount of support for someone suffering from this illness. However, you must know how to be effective. If not the family member could end up doing more harm than good.

The first thing you should do is read everything you can about depression and its treatments. Being forewarned is being forearmed. By making yourself knowledgeable, you can help make decisions when perhaps the loved one isn’t in a fit state to do so. You should also read up on how your loved one will feel. Getting as much insight as possible as to what depression will do to this person will help you cope with the worst days.

You have to keep in mind that caring for a depressed person is very braining both physically and emotionally. You need to set aside time for yourself. You won’t be any use to your loved one if you are tired and stressed out. In fact you may make things worse. Talk about what you are going through with someone who understand or even join a support group. Take some time to enjoy yourself as well. Don’t let your loved ones depression takes over your life as well.

Depressed people do need lots of love and support. You don’t want to smother them but you need to be there when they need it most. Knowing they can rely on you will help them get through some of the darkest moments.

Don’t deny your own feelings. There will be times when you’re feeling angry and frustrated. You need a support network to help vent these feelings out. A good friend or a support group again can be a great source of comfort. Keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to your own illness.

Dealing with depression is difficult and draining. It puts stress and strain on the life of the depressed person as well as those close to him or her. Many types of therapies may have to be tried and tested before any improvement is seen. One such possibility is talk therapy.

Talk Therapies:

Talking therapies can be of a great help when it comes to treating depression. It involved various types of counseling with a psychologist, Psychiatrist or therapist. Talking therapies allow the depressed person to get their feelings out. They also allow for the two people to work together to try to find the root cause for their depression.

Talking therapies do vary but most involve the same key elements. First there is the listening session. The therapist listens to the person’s problems. Over time the person develops a relationship with the therapist where they feel they are understood. Next there is the emotional release. This is helpful but cannot be done to often. Letting the emotions out too often can have the opposite effect and lead to further depression. Next comes the advice and guidance. The patient may be able to seek the answers on their own through session and homework. Finally, there is information provided. They are giving information in small bits but as progress is made it can be increased. Depressed people can sometimes have poor concentration and memories so information is given carefully.

Talking therapies can be very effective in treating depression but they do take time. Several sessions may be required and the patient’s family may have to be involved. Talking therapies can help mild to moderate depression greatly; however severe cases of depression will usually need a combination of talk and medication.

Inner Healing:

Inner healing is a faith-based approach to dealing with depression. Traumatic events in our lives can interpret our reality and cause us to believe falsehoods about ourselves, our relationships, and our faith in God. Replacing the lies with truth will set us free but it is a battle to renew our minds. It can be done and life can be lived in abundance and not with victim or poverty mindsets.

Need help with Depression? Let Marriage and Family Therapist Ron Huxley assist you and your family members.

Call today at 805-709-2023 or email at rehuxley@gmail.com for an appointment in Ron’s Shell Beach, California office.