My Chat About Discipline With Ron Huxley, Child and Family Therapist

Hi Ron! I’m so excited to get the chance to throw a few questions at you! I’ve been following you on Twitter @RonHuxley. Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I am a Licensed Child and Family Therapist on the Central Coast of California, living my dream life with my wife of 16 years. We have four children together. Two are my biological children and two are my step children but I consider them all “mine.” By day, I run a children’s mental health clinic for children that have gone through trauma and have attachment related issues. By night, I am run a blog called the that has been active for 11 years!

I often feel that I’m overly aggressive at times in disciplining my children. You often speak about assertiveness at the Parenting Toolbox. What’s the difference between being aggressive and being assertive?

Assertiveness means owning and speaking your thoughts and feelings vs saying what others want to hear (or saying nothing at all). Aggressiveness means forcing your thoughts and opinions on others without concern for what they want. On one end of the continuum you have passiveness. On the other, aggressiveness. Assertiveness is somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t mean that people have to do what you want or even care, just because you expressed it. It does mean you respect yourself enough to let your voice be heard.

I stumbled across a phrase I’d never heard before while reading at the Parenting Toolbox. The phrase was “I-messages”. Could you explain what an “I-message” is and how to use it?

I-messages refer to starting your sentences off with the words “I” vs. “You.” It is a way of taking ownership for what is going to come out of our mouths next. You messages imply blame and create defensiveness in others.

How effective is positive discipline versus threatening or spanking?

Effectiveness of discipline is evaluated on two levels: short-term and long-term. Threatening and spanking children may get short-term results but they rarely get long-term results. It exerts external control and does not foster thinking skills or concience development. The child simply doesn’t want to be spanked but if mom or dad are not around to give a spanking, will the child make the right choice?

What about Time Out?

I hate time out. It is an overused and tired parenting tool given by educators and social workers to abusive parents who have very little insight into how to parent/discipline. Time out is only good when the parent needs a break and feels out of control. Then it is ok but is a tool for mom and dad, not for the child.

I have a reoccurring problem in my home. My children, ages 3 and 4, will often wait to listen until I get angry. Sometimes I feel like they do it to get a reaction out of me. It drives me crazy! How can I solve this?

If your children only react when you get angry, this means it has become a “game.” One no one wins obviously. 80% of all children’s misbehavior is for attention. Give them attention for any behavior that is opposite of the behavior you don’t want and see if that increasing compliance. Reward what you want, not what you don’t want.

I’ve tried something like this before… but I’m going to try again with your explanation in mind. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope that some of my readers will benefit from our chat as well! How can people contact you?

Parents can contact me at my blog: They can follow me on twitter at as well.

Awesome… Thanks again Ron!