The Emotionally Regulated Classroom

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It’s been reported that one out of every four children attending school has been exposed to a traumatic event that can affect their learning and/or behavior. Educators need the right information, with the right tools, to be prepared at the right time.

When children have experienced chronic and pervasive trauma, their thinking skills are literally hijacked by their emotional brain, shutting down their ability to focus, initiate tasks, follow directions, organize work, and control impulses. Everything a child needs to be successful in school.

How do parents and educators work together to help hurt children and manage their classrooms?

The first step in becoming Trauma-Informed is to understand the effects of toxic stress on the developing child and recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma.

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Children and youth may not always verbalize that they are going through a traumatic event. It is up to the adults, in their lives to recognize the warning signs and know how to help. If you know what to look for, the child’s behavior will be speaking “loud and clear!”

Young children, ages 0-5 can demonstrate activity levels that are much higher or lower than peers. They can startle very easily and be difficult to calm. Their play may reveal traumatic events over and over again or come up in little snippets of conversations. Clinginess, extreme irritability, reluctance to explore the world and long, frequent tantrums are also possible signs of trauma.

In elementary school children, they may complain about frequent headaches or stomachaches with no apparent cause. They can regress to earlier developmental stages with thumb sucking or bed wetting. It can be difficult to transition them from one activity or another. Emotionally, they can verbalize scary feelings and ideas, burst into tears over little things and/or be extremely withdrawn and quiet. There might be reports of eating and sleeping problems. They might get into trouble more than usual at home and school. And, they could have poor attention, distractibility and be unable to follow directions.

All of this results in low school performance…

Older children may talk constantly about their traumatic situation or deny that anything is wrong. Behaviorally, they can refuse to follow rules, be oppositional and defiant, disrupt classrooms, and act anxious or depressed. It is also possible that they are tired all the time, have physical complaints without any medical reasons, fall asleep in class, or engage in risky behaviors, like alcohol, drugs, and physical fights.

Understanding these signs of trauma will empower parents and educators to be more sensitive and resourceful in helping children in the classroom.

One of the most challenging symptoms of trauma to manage is emotional dysregulation.

This occurs when a child or youth is unable to control or regulate their emotional responses to stimuli in their environment. Their reactions can be extremely exaggerated with bursts of anger, crying, defiance, passive-aggressive behaviors, frequent interruptions, and chaotic disruptions in the classroom. Unfortunately, children and educators often engage in power struggles that no one can win.

The Regulated Classroom:

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Educators can model emotional self-regulation for their students.

They can demonstrate how to notice, name, and respond to intense feelings instead of reacting to them. Doing so, will build resilience within and beyond the classroom.

Educators can use classroom design to prepare a space that promotes self-regulation. Classrooms should, generally, be well organized, clean, well-labeled, and provide resources for overwhelmed students.

Many of the principles and techniques used to interact with students with trauma are broadly applicable to conversations with all students.

Clear, assertive, comfortable communication can establish trust and provide structure.

However, it is important for educators to realize that the emotional and social needs of students with trauma are different.

Students should be made aware, in a clear, specific fashion, what their teachers and staff expect of them.

School discipline policies should be communicated at the beginning of the year to all students, faculty, and staff, and should be consistently described.

Allowing students an opportunity to inquire about, and even challenge, rules, will increase their sense of procedural justice.

If students perceive the procedures as basically transparent and fair, they are more likely to go along with an individual decision or policy they do not agree with.

Regulation Strategies for the Classroom:

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One strategy to regulated the classroom is called “Two Before Me.”

In a group discussion, a student may initially speak up whenever they have the opportunity & are called on.

However, after speaking, a student must wait for at least two other people to speak before they can raise their hand or contribute again.

This prevents conversations from being dominated by a limited few people and can reduce conflict/arguments.

Another strategy is the “Suggestion Box.”

Students with trauma often find it scary to communicate their needs or express displeasure.

Students who have been neglected may not be used to identifying or sharing needs at all.

To encourage these students to express their needs, supply them with a suggestion box or cubby hole in a circumspect place in your classroom.

Set aside a weekly or monthly time where the contents of the box are discussed or provide written answers to students concerns on a bulletin board.

You can name this box something other than a suggestion box. Perhaps call it a comment box or question box or come up with a name the class decides together. Remind students that it is OK to write feelings they are uncomfortable to say out loud as long as the feeling is not directed at a specific person, or intended to cause harm.

In the “Ouch/Oops” strategy,  the classroom learns how to manage hurt feelings and resolve conflicts.

If your class adopts this rule, anyone is free to say “Ouch” if something a peer or teacher says rubs them the wrong way.

For example, if someone said something hurtful, accusatory, or generally offensive, the person who caused the “Ouch” is required to say “Oops”. It is then up to the person who said “Ouch” to determine how the conflict should be resolved, like having a private discussion or a mediation with the teacher or other peers.

Educators will need to watch for misuses of this strategy, such as a student using “Ouch” frequently to derail a conversation or target a disliked peer. Also, students may “Ouch” something benign a teacher says that they don’t like, such as assignment due date. And students may refuse to respond with an “Oops” if there are no firm rules on it.

If necessary, educators may want to restrict this strategy to personal discussions to prevent misuse.  Generally speaking, older students are somewhat more likely to use “Ouch/Oops” strategy correctly but with some practice, it can be a useful regulation tool for all ages.


GET MORE Trauma-Informed Tools by contacting Ron Huxley at for a consultation or in-services at your next event or conference. Click here for more information. 

Why I Hate Behavior Charts

I have a confession. I don’t like behavior charts. That might sound odd, given that I have an entire web course on using behavior charts and I give them to my families. Behavior charts have been used as a magical want and not the true parenting tool it is…Professionals will give parents a behavior chart and tell them to go home and fix all of their family problems. What is the end result of that? More frustration and more power struggles in the home. That is what we are trying to stop!

Another problem, with behavior charts, is inherent in the tool itself. Charts are an external reinforcement system for good behavior and so they can be easily manipulated. Children will learn to do WHAT they have to do WHEN they have to do it, just to get the reward or get the parent off of their back. They end up teaching the child how to get a reward or avoid punishment instead of how to be a responsible person.

Ironically, research continues to talk about how powerful tools these can be in a parents toolbox. What’s missing here? Fortunately, I have found the solution. I want to give you the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART. Why is it better? Because it uses core values, a big, juicy problem and the brains reward system.

I want to give you the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART. Why is it better? Because it uses core values, a big, juicy problem and the brains reward system. Let me share a bit about this and then, if you want more, you can take my entire course.

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The first reason the better behavior chart is better is that it builds on your families core values.

Examples might include “respect yourself and others”, “use your words, not your hands”, “we work as a team”, “honesty is the best policy”, “be kind” or “act politely.” 

Here are a few tips to make core values easier:

Simplicity is best. Use short phrases, not long lectures.

Start with 5-10 core values.

Concentrate on values that will address struggles in your family.

Add additional core values as they come up in your family.

Take into consideration the personalities, spiritual beliefs, and parenting styles.

The goal is to develop a strong, internal core that will back up our external behavior charts. Behavior charts can be powerful when they reinforce attitudes and beliefs and not just behaviors. 


The second reason the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHARTS are better is that they concentrate on the Big, Juicy Problems in your home. These are the big issues that really, really, annoy you. I know you know what they are! You thought of it the minute you read that…

What are some Big, Juicy Problems?

Parents try to tackle too many problems at one time. They get easily overwhelmed and the power of the chart decreases. The BJP focuses on rewarding “other” or “opposite” behaviors than the BJP. This is called “differential reinforcement of other, opposite or incompatible behavior.” Yes, it’s really a thing!

Parents mistakenly try to reinforce children to stop hitting, arguing, dawdling, forgetting their homework, etc. It is very difficult to NOT do something. Too many negatives in that strategy. Instead, reinforce the opposite, more positive behaviors you want to see in your home. 

Let’s say that hitting is the BJP that really bugs you. Reward your child anytime he does something other than hit, that’s a positive behavior. It is hard to hit someone and be coloring in a coloring book or riding their bike or taking a bath or sleeping. It’s may sound ridiculous but the reason behavior charts are powerful is because of the power of attention.

The BJP is so annoying that it will cause you to flip your lid and yell, huff, roll your eyes, speak with irritation. Every time you do, you reinforce the very behavior you want to stop because you are giving it negative attention.

A child will quickly learn that they can get negative attention with 100 percent certainty. Positive attention is not so certain. You may walk right past a child who is coloring nicely and not hitting anyone. You might keep working on dinner instead of thanking a child for setting the table. Your juggling so many tasks and there are so many things to do in one day that it is a relief when children are playing together nicely but you will probably not give a “kudo” for doing so. You missed an opportunity to make sure they keep playing nicely by rewarding it verbally. In the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART program, you will catch these positive moments more often.

Of course, you can’t catch them all. Like we said, your busy! Fortunately, you don’t have to because with the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART you control the what and when of rewards.

Another reason the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART is better is due to how you give the rewards. Most behavior charts fail because they are on a “fixed reinforcement schedule.” This means you give the reward for each correct behavior you want to see happen. After a while, children will come to expect a reward for any positive behavior and may actually negotiate with you when you ask them to do something. Essentially, they say: “If you pay me, I will.” We do not want to create more entitlement in children. 

Instead of a “fixed reinforcement schedule,” you will use a “variable reinforcement schedule.” This means you NEVER give a child a reinforcement when they ask or demand it. You give one in a more random way for incompatible or other behaviors, both big and small so that the child never knows when the reward is coming but they know they could get it at any time. This anticipation is a powerful brain activating mechanism.

Learn more about “variable reinforcement schedules”, the use of the brains reward system, how to use the BETTER BEHAVIOR CHART with older children and more when you sign up for our online training at 

Sign up today and get 50% off when you use the code: fall2017. This is only good till the end of October…So get it now!

Riding the Wave of Change Together: Foster Parent Conference


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!

Special Fall Offers!


Fall is my favorite time of year! Let’s celebrate the transition of the season with a special offer of 50% discount on all Family Healer Courses. This offer is good until October 15, 2017, so get it today…

Use Promotion Code: fall2017

Family Healer Courses:

> Freedom From Anxiety: An Integrative Approach for Healing Panic, Worry, Fear, and Anxiety: The Art and Science of Creating Better Behaved Children in 24 Hours!
> Parenting Styles: Do you and your partner fight over how to discipline? This is one of the most common parenting problems in families. Now you can learn how to balance love and limits in the home.
> Spiritual Parenting: How do you develop character in your child and make sure they know right from wrong? Learn the principles of moral development and create deep connections from the inside out!
> Total Family Makeover: From the Inside Out!: Isn’t it time to make some changes in your most important relationships!

Click to get order now. Use code fall2017.

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


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:

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

Register for the upcoming workshop here:



Directions to the new office…

Ron Huxley, LMFT has moved. His new office location is 6621 Bay Laurel Place, Building 4, Suite A in Avila Village, Avila Ca.

Here are some directions if coming from the south on US-101:

Take US-101 N.

Take exit 195 for Avila Beach Drive.

Slight left onto Avila Beach Dr (signs for Port San Luis).

Turn right onto San Luis Bay Dr.

Turn left into Bay Laurel Place.

At Round About take a right turn into Avila Village Business Complex.

We are the second gold building on the left, Building 4.

Park and walk around to inner court yard and look for Suite A.

The waiting room is on the right. Come on in…we’ll be right with you. 🙂

Here are some directions if coming from the north on US- 101:

Follow US-101 S to San Luis Bay Dr in Avila Beach.

Take exit 196 for San Luis Bay Dr toward See Canyon/Avila Beach.

Follow San Luis Bay Dr.

Turn right onto Bay Laurel Pl. 

At Round About take a right turn into Avila Village Business Complex.

We are the second gold building on the left, Building 4.

Park and walk around to inner court yard and look for Suite A.

The waiting room is on the right. Come on in…we’ll be right with you. 🙂

(Google link)

Last chance to get the Freedom From Anxiety program FREE!

last chance

The Freedom From Anxiety program is free until September 1, 2017…that means today is the last day to register before the price returns to $300!

Use the program to walk confidently in social situations, live without fear and panic, find greater intimacy in close relationships, become more positive about your future.

The Freedom From Anxiety program offers you 20 educational and entertaining videos, 13 insightful articles, 15 handouts and exercises, 16 audio pieces of training, and several family/parenting bonuses…and we are still growing.

You get life time members to the program and all the updates and new content but you have to sign up now:

Click here to finally find your freedom >




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.