The Raise Responsibilty System

Tips About Offering Choices and Child Discipline

When introduced to the Raise Responsibility System, many parents and teachers initially struggle with the idea of offering choices as it pertains to child discipline. Since the more traditional, authoritarian approach to child discipline and child raising focuses on telling youth what to do, offering choices seems like a radical idea at first.

To prove this point, here is a question a reader sent me: “How is offering choices teaching children that there are some things in life they had to do regardless of their mood or sense of power (like bathing, attending school, later holding a job, and being responsible for themselves when their choices are limited)? If everything become negotiable, if they think they will always have >>>


Discipline Questions Answered

More and more people who want to discipline without coercion are learning about the Discipline Without Stress methodology and the Raise Responsibility System every day.

Step 1: TEACHING – (Students learn four levels of development) Being proactive by TEACHING AT THE OUTSET is in contrast to the usual approach of just responding to inappropriate behavior.

Step 2: ASKING – (Checking for Understanding) When a disruption occurs, have the student identify the unacceptable level chosen. Note: A major reason for the success of the system is that by identifying something OUTSIDE of oneself, the deed is separated from the doer. The person is not prompted to self-defend, which is one’s natural and usual approach.

Step 3: ELICITING – (Guided … >>>


How to Foster Initiative in Students

Recently a teacher asked me, “Can we really expect ALL children (even kindergartners) to understand and abide by the Discipline Without Stress’ 4 levels of behavior without ANY rewards?”

Here is my reply:

YES, but you start by differentiating between ACCEPTABLE levels and UNACCEPTABLE levels. See the posters and cards at

Also (and this is critical), be sure you have taught, practiced, and practiced again EVERYTHING you want your students to do. A MAJOR ERROR EVEN EXPERIENCED TEACHERS MAKE is ASSUMING that students, of any age, know what to do without first learning, practicing, and ritualizing the procedure or skill.

Once STUDENTS (especially young ones) HAVE LEARNED what YOU want them to do, they will want to do … >>>


Do “enforceable statements” fit with Discipline without Stress?


I was thinking today about the “enforceable statements” that Love and Logic is big on using.  At first, I was thinking that I might use their statements in my Discipline without Stress teaching but now I’m wondering.  I’d like another opinion on the subject.

In the Love and Logic program, instead of making rules for your students, you only tell them what YOU, the adult will do.  The thinking behind this is that the only person you ever really have control over is yourself.

I can see how some enforceable statements could be used with Discipline without Stress if they fall into the category of procedures. For example, things like :

  • “Ooops, I listen to kids who
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An online explanation of Discipline without Stress

Dr. Marshall recently brought teacher attention to a youtube lecture highlighting the third part of his Discipline without Stress Teaching ModelThe Raise Responsibility System.

As many university instructors do these days, Joe Jerles posted this classroom management lecture online so that his own students could access his teaching easily and repeatedly for study purposes.

Jerles is teaching from the textbook, Effective Classroom Management by Carlette Jackson Hardin.  Chapter 9 of the book deals specifically with Dr. Marshall’s Discipline without Stress approach.

Joe Jerles’ youtube presentation may be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about the Discipline without Stress approach.

Dr. Marshall points out a few things to notice while viewing the video:

  • Even kindergarten students
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Do you think I did the right thing?


I am an art teacher at an elementary school. I have three 4th grade classes that are usually difficult to manage. I have recently asked a guest artist to come and do a Jackson Pollock lesson with them. She is supplying all the paint and canvases for this lesson, except one. I also have one very large (6 X 8) canvas that only one class will get to paint. The other two classes will have to work on smaller individual canvases. This lesson requires the students to be on their best behavior and be good listeners as we will be “splatter” painting. I told the classes they could “earn” the big canvas.  I said that the class with the … >>>


Do self-imposed consequences provide a way for children to avoid taking responsibility?


What if a child chooses something as a consequence, that is in his/her own mind, nothing more than a way of getting out of trouble?  Although Dr. Marshall’s book has validated my beliefs on how to treat children, I do feel that in this one regard a self-imposed consequence could simply be a way out for a person in the wrong.

As well, if a child violates another person’s right, it seems fair that the person whose rights have been violated would have a say in whether they think the self-imposed consequence is a fair one.  Could you please advise me if my thinking about is correct or not.


Dr. Marshall’s approach to discipline is certainly not meant … >>>


Using procedures to gain the cooperation of a passive-aggressive student

My teaching partner and I have a little girl in our grade one classroom this year who is very stubborn and actually downright defiant in a passive aggressive way.  Right from the beginning of the year she would deliberately do the opposite of whatever the teacher was asking or quietly not do anything at all. When everyone was asked to print certain letters on the chalkboard she would draw pictures. When asked to get out her calendar binder, she would get out something entirely different. Then just before the end of calendar time, she would quickly take out her book and finish up what was expected. When everyone else would stand to celebrate a classmate’s birthday by singing a … >>>


How can I explain the difference between Level C and D of this discipline system?


What is the best way to explain to children the difference between internal and external motivation––in other words, the difference between DWS Levels C and D?  I am having trouble with this.


Initially I use very concrete examples connected directly to the classroom.

I describe Level C as the level where students do the right thing––what’s expected of them by the teacher––because the teacher is clearly expecting them to do it.

Some simple examples:

  • The student will pick up toys off the floor when they are asked.
  • The student will walk quietly in the hallway when a teacher is supervising.
  • The student will clean up a mess he/she has made when
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Do all discipline conversations need to be private?


If 95% of the kids are attentively listening, but two boys are making faces to each other and laughing, clearly not paying attention, how do you refocus them without calling them out in front of the class?  I get that it’s more effective to ask them about their behavior, but I wonder if I can I do that in front of everyone? And can I do the follow-up questioning in front of the whole class as well? I can’t really pull them aside when I’m the one teaching! Help, please!


When you follow the DWS approach, you are asking the student to assess a level of behavior.  This has a different feel to it than “calling a … >>>


Student who passively refuses to answer reflective questions.

QUESTION (Part One):

I’ve heard you say “The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.” However, I have a child in my first grade class this year who refuses to answer any of my reflective questions.



If you are not happy and would like me to help you, let me know what you would like me to do. There is no hurry; take your time. I’ll be here to help you when you want me to help.”

If you would like me to help you find a friend, let me know.

If you want to talk to me alone, just let me know.

QUESTION (Part Two):

Since he does not respond, I eventually feel forced … >>>


How often should I be eliciting a consequence?


When a child does something they shouldn’t, I follow DWS and elicit the consequence from them.  There have been times however when I’ve been faced with children who don’t know how to think and apply consequences.  What do you suggest?


Elicit a consequence only when a youngster has done something that is rather drastic in nature. In the vast majority of times aim at eliciting a procedure.

Think of a youngster as a young adult who has just not achieved that stature. You want to help the person redirect impulses. Create a visual procedure to help the younger help him/herself. An example is at this link.
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How do you do this with a whole class?


I’m having trouble picturing how the DWS process can be done with an entire class at once.  I can see how the conversation works with one child but how would you deal with a whole class that is misbehaving?  Do you ask each child to tell you what level they’re on?

RESPONSE (from a member of the DWS mailring):

DWS works pretty much the same whether you’re dealing with the whole class, a small group, or just one child. The same 4 layered steps of the Teaching Model apply.   The same 3 steps of the Raise Responsibility system are used when necessary.  When you address the whole class, often one or two kids spontaneously take on the responding role, … >>>


Reflective Questions

Just a Small Sample from the Resource Guide

Are you willing to try something different if it would help you?

How would you like things to be? (Meaning: What do you want?)

Does it feel as if we’re moving forward here, or does it feel as if we’re stuck?

What would you have to do if you wanted to move forward in this situation?


Do you want to be in charge of you or have someone else be in charge of you?

Do you want me to be a Level B teacher?

What would a Level B teacher probably do now?

Effective and ineffective question are on pages 53 – 58 of the … >>>


Picture book for all grade levels – “So Close”

Here’s a very simple picture book with a poignant message that can be appreciated by readers of any age.  It’s brilliant!

Told in just 7 sentences it is the quintessential story of  “what might have been.”  It will touch your heart and inspire you to reach out to others!

Cover Illustration

Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit are neighbors.

Every day they pass––yet never once does either of them notice the other, let alone smile or say hello.

Day after day, season after season, good weather or bad, happy mood or sad, the two pass without so much as a word or a glance; each lost in his own thoughts.

We witness them…

rushing by,

strolling by,

biking by,

always … >>>


Should I put the kids’ names on the Levels of Development with clothespegs?


I’d like to put my student’s names on clothespegs and then move them to different Levels of Development chart if they misbehave or do something at a high level?  Does this fit with the Discipline Without Stress approach?


Although it might seem as if clothepegs on the Levels of Development chart create a concrete visual to help remind children that they always have choices with regard to their level of operation, putting student names on the Levels of Development would not be compatible with the Discipline Without Stress philosophy.

Here are some reasons why I personally wouldn’t choose to attach student names to the levels:

  • It’s not possible for any person to judge the motivational level of another.  
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Are young kids developmentally ready to operate on Level D?


As a first grade teacher, I totally agree with DWS being the best way to go.  However, I have some concerns about the developmental readiness of young children to operate on the level of Democracy on the Hierarchy.  I seem to recall from my Ed. Psych. class that this level of behavior was ‘normally’ expected around the teenage years––if at all.


I’ve heard this concern raised before and although I haven’t taken psychology courses for many years now, I’m happy to give an opinion based purely on personal experience in the classroom. I teach Grade One too!

Firstly, I feel it’s important to review the definition of what it means to be operating on Level … >>>


Welcoming a new student

One day last February we learned that a new boy would be joining our grade one class.  In an effort to be proactive, my teaching partner, Darlene, planned a class meeting the day before he arrived.  She wanted to encourage the students to welcome the new child and she also hoped to avoid a situation with which we’ve had some difficulty in the past.

In previous years when we’ve had a new addition to our class, we’ve sometimes experienced the following problem:  If the new youngster starts to feel anxious and begins to cling to Mom when it’s time for her to leave, we’ve been surprised to see that there have always been one or two other kids in the … >>>