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The Problem with “Why” Questions

One of the most common questions people ask others is “why?”

“Why did you do that?”

“Why did you say that?”

“Why is this happening?”

Interestingly, the least effective question to ask in almost any situation is a “why” question.

A few reasons that I do not ask “why” questions to a person, especially during times of conflict or irresponsible behavior are:

  1. The person may not know the motivation.
  2. He or she may not be able to articulate the motivation.
  3. The person may not want to tell you the real reason.
  4. The person may give an excuse, rather than take responsibility.
  5. There is no beneficial effect in asking, as it only satisfies curiosity.
  6. It takes the focus away from changing
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Warm Up to Your Fear

Fear is often negative self-talk about a perceived situation. You’ve probably heard that FEAR is actually an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. However, even knowing this, there are times when it is most difficult to think that a situation is not real. So rather than attempting to eradicate your fear, warm up to it.

Too many people have the mindset of “If I’m afraid, I can’t do something.” But the truth is that you can do it even if you are afraid; it’s just less comfortable than doing something you are not afraid to do. But if you do it a couple of times, you won’t be afraid to do it anymore, and it will become more and more … >>>

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Focus on Collaboration to Help Students Succeed

Collaboration is the key to lifelong success. In fact, if we want our children to succeed in school and later in life, we need to shift our mindset in how we educate them.

Knowing this, here’s an important message for both parents and teachers: Just taking in information is not learning. Retention requires review, reflection, and (with a skill) practice. Force-feeding students more and more information at younger and younger ages is not the answer. Rather, we need to focus on understanding, mastery, and most important, collaboration.

Why is Collaboration so Important for Learning?

Outside of schooling, the importance of teamwork is absolute because people work collaboratively.

It is ironic that in schools the emphasis is on performance of the … >>>

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Stay Positive Even During Negative Times

I’ve written and spoken for decades about why it’s important to stay positive. Positivity is good for your health. Positivity lowers stress levels. It increases happiness. It prompts good relationships. The list goes on. However, sometimes, despite our best efforts, bad things happen to us, prompting us to dwell in negativity.

Is it possible to stay positive during negative times? The answer is yes!

Harold Kushner in his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” writes that things do not happen to us for any good reason that would cause us to accept them willingly.

But we can give them meaning; we can use tragedies by imposing meaning on them. Therefore, the question that we should be asking is … >>>

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How to Stop Bullying

Here is a marvelously successful idea to stop bullying. You can use this approach to prevent bullying in classrooms, reduce bullying school-wide, and even stop bullying behaviors in homes. The key is to approach the motivation of bullying that prompts people to bully others.

Start with sharing the Levels of Development, which shows that choosing bullying behavior is operating on Level B—bothering/bullying.

Here is the procedure I used as a teacher. You can use this procedure in any circumstance to reduce bullying behavior or even completely stop bullying.

The Stop Bullying Procedure — Step One

Use a ruler or book and hold it flat so viewers see only the thin edge. Announce that it is like a teeter-totter or … >>>

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Using the Levels of Development Outside the Classroom

This website is filled with examples of how the Levels of Development work in the classroom. As such, many people assume that the system works in a classroom setting with average, everyday students, but that it has little application outside the classroom. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Levels of Development can be used in numerous scenarios, including at-risk youth.

Consider the example of Frank Spino and how he uses the Levels of Development. Frank attended one of my seminars in Sacramento, California several years ago. He now uses the Levels of Development in various situations—including those when he assists the local police. I asked Frank to share how he uses the Levels of Development after arresting a … >>>

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Good Listening Skills Reduces Stress AND Improves Relationships

Having good listening skills will make your life easier and your relationships less stressful. In fact, if you ask yourself how you know someone cares for you, one of your responses is likely to be that you know because the person listens to you.

Without good listening skills, no relationship can flourish. Ask a husband about a good wife, and he is likely to say that he knows his wife cares for him because she listens to what he has to say. Ask a wife about a good husband, and she’ll respond that he listens to her.

This is true with children too. When the parent says, “It’s about time you started listening to me,” chances are the youngster is … >>>

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Do the Levels of Development Really Work?

When something sounds too good to be true, it’s natural for people to be skeptical about it. This is true for everything from weight loss products to money making opportunities to even my very own Levels of Development.

People often wonder, “Can the Levels of Development and the Without Stress Methodology really change behavior and promote responsibility in youth?” After receiving countless testimonials and working with children and staff first hand, I can say without hesitation that it works.

Consider this email I received recently:

My name is Melissa Stuart. I was a teacher in California for 28 years and am now teaching in McKinney, TX. I used your program in CA. I loved it and believed in it. >>>

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Anyone Can be an Optimist

Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist? In simple terms, an optimist focuses on hope. A pessimist focused on doubt. An optimist thinks about the good that can be in a situation. A pessimist thinks about all the things that could go wrong in a situation.

Positivity (or what I call ‘conscious optimism’) promotes and induces responsibility in everyone, including children. A positive attitude, just like happiness, begins between the ears. Both are skills that anyone can develop.

In fact, the most important thing people can control is their state of mind. Is your state of mind more like an optimist or a pessimist? You really do have a choice! A state of mind is something that one … >>>

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The Gift of Internal Motivation

When people, especially the young, learn the difference between external and internal motivation, they become empowered to resist bullying and victimhood thinking, and to make responsible choices. The Levels of Development explains the difference between external motivation and internal motivation. Even young children can understand these concepts.

Although technically all motivation is internal, being able to articulate something outside of ourselves that prompts or motivates will help us make more responsible decisions. Keep in mind that it is the effect of the Levels of Development—how people grow—that makes learning the levels (concepts) so valuable. Think of the Levels of Development as rubric or reference for making decisions in life.

Internal Motivation Prompts Change

Additionally, when children learn both of the … >>>

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Your Mindset Determines Your Success

One of the great approaches to successful living is to develop the art of prompting positive mindsets. The fact is that your mindset and success are intimately intertwined.

For example, suppose I lay a plank on the ground. Almost anyone can easily walk on the plank from one end to the other. But if I were to raise the plank 10 feet off the ground, how many people do you think would get across it without falling? I would guess quite a few people would fall off the plank.

Why can people walk the plank when it’s on the ground but not while it’s elevated? A prime reason is that when the plank is on the ground, people imagine success. … >>>

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How to Improve a Strained Relationship

We all have experienced a strained relationship from time to time. Whether it was with a spouse, child, or co-worker, dealing with a strained relationship can be a challenge. Taking the time to fix a strained relationship takes courage and finesse. Here are three suggestions for improving strained relationships with youth and adults alike.

 

  • Give affirmations

A simple acknowledgement can have dramatic results. This is especially important with young people. They want to assert their independence and autonomy. Just acknowledging that you have heard their point of view, regardless of agreement, can have a profound effect on how your growing young one feels about the relationship. For adults, an affirmation, such as “I see your point and understand where … >>>

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What’s the Future of Education? Look to the Past for Answers

No doubt you’ve heard of John Dewey, the American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Even today, he is regarded as one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century.

Dewey died in 1957 at age 92 in New York City. My guess is that if he were alive today, he’d be appalled at the educational landscape (and I like to think he’d be a proponent of The Levels of Development and the Discipline Without Stress methodology).

He taught for three years but struggled with the expectation that he should be a knuckle-rapping disciplinarian. That wasn’t how he viewed education.

After posts at the University … >>>

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How to Increase Student Engagement

Discipline problem often occur due to a lack of student engagement. If the teacher is promoting something interesting, students are quite capable of being engaged. So, instead of thinking, “I am going to control this disruptive behavior,” a more effective approach would be to think, “What can I do that is interesting to prevent students from misbehaving in the first place?” After all, curiosity is a great motivator.

The punishment mindset has many disadvantages, especially when you’re punishing due to student engagement issues. If punishment becomes arbitrary, any young person is going to feel angry and even disillusioned. When people in authority want others to behave responsibility, it is the leader’s responsibility to first behave in this same manner. The … >>>

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7 Tips to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Spouse

Your relationship with your spouse or significant other should be one of happiness and understanding.  But sometimes it can be stressful. Learning how to strengthen your relationship with your spouse will do wonders for not only your marriage, but also your stress level in general.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when dealing with a spouse, significant other, or social partner.

1. Recognize that you can only control your own behavior. The more you try to control someone else, the less likely it is that the person will do what you want.

2. Differences in perceptions, opinions, needs, and wants need to be respected. The most effective way to accomplish this is to clarify your position rather … >>>

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How to Say No Positively

Sometimes in life you have to say no to others. While most people dislike saying no, it really is an important life skill to learn. Failure to say no to others can often lead to stress, overwhelm, and unhappiness.

In my books, speeches, and professional work, I stress the importance of positivity. But saying no to others feels so negative. The word itself is certainly not positive. And the feeling it leaves after a conversation can sometimes feel negative. So how can you say no to others without actually saying the word “no”? How can you protect your time, your feelings, and your needs while keeping the relationship positive?

Here is a simple four-step process to say no positively:

1. … >>>

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Reflection Prompts Learning

Learning something new is always challenging, especially if you’ve always done something one way or are convinced your inefficient way is correct. This is true of both adults and children.

Here is an example: A third/fourth grade teacher asked me the following question: “What do you say to a student who thinks his answers are ALWAYS correct even when I prove he is wrong by giving examples of the correct math solutions and by other students demonstrating the correct answers by their methods?”

I responded:

ALWAYS keep in mind that the person who asks the question controls the situation.

The only way this child will change is by having him continually reflect. With reflection comes learning and change. The skill … >>>

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Rise Above Any Stressful Situation

For many people, the stress of everyday life—where you go from stressful situation to another—can seem overwhelming. Between work, family, social commitments, and even the daily onslaught of negative news, stress levels across the board are rising. As a result, conditions like anxiety, depression, OCD behaviors, and insomnia are on the rise.

Fortunately, in many cases, you have a choice. No matter what the stressful situation is, you can choose to react to it positively or negatively. You can choose to let life weigh you down. Or you can choose to rise above the challenges.

Consider this old story and think about the deeper meaning being illustrated:

A farmer had an old dog. One day his dog fell into a … >>>

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