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Student Awards and Rewards: What Works and What Doesn’t

Image of a gold trophy.

I often say that doling out student awards and rewards is counterproductive. However, I must also say that I don’t condemn ALL student awards and rewards. Allow me to explain.

As a former instructional coordinator, I have come to the conclusion that awards ceremonies are counterproductive for LEARNING—especially when so many young people never find themselves in the winner’s circle and would therefore prefer to drop out rather than compete.

When it comes to learning, collaboration is much more effective. When people collaborate, they do not compete.

However, as a former high school athletic coordinator, I do believe in award ceremonies for athletics and other competitive activities such as spelling bees, high school band competitions, and academic decathlons THAT ARE … >>>

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Driving License Renewal and Stress

Image of a crowded DMV office

Renewing a driver’s license can be stressful! When you need to renew your driving license, it’s smart to make an appointment ahead of time with your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). At least this is the case in California, where I reside. Having an appointment will reduce your stress. But this is only the beginning of my experience, which I share with you for your benefit.

California and other states in the USA now offer two types of driver’s licenses: one for the state only and one that qualifies for federal identification—including airline security. Before you apply for a new driver’s license or for a license renewal, review this information to reduce your stress and frustration.

Assumptions Lead to Stress

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What Influence Are You Spreading?

Image of a mother working on a computer and her daughter imitating her.

You are influencing others every day, whether you realize it or not. Some of the most important people you influence are children. Your children and students see and hear everything you do, and it shapes their outlook on the world. What influence are you spreading to the youth of today?

Consider this true story:

Charles Adams was the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain during the Lincoln Administration. He always kept a journal and taught his son, Brooks, to keep a daily journal as well.

When Brooks Adams was eight years old, he wrote in his diary: “Went fishing with my father, the most glorious day of my life.” During the next 40 years, Brooks referred to that day in his … >>>

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Reduce Classroom Stress by Empowering Students

Image of female student standing in front of a chalkboard. There are images of four light bulbs over her head, from small to big, showing her ideas growing.

When implementing the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS system, some teachers initially struggle. They are so used to using a rewards- or consequences-based system that trying something new feels awkward. Even though they know deep down that rewards and punishments don’t work, they have little experience with other options, and as such, they revert to their past ineffective ways.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that many teachers are mandated to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The question then is, “How can you use DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS while at the same time implementing PBIS?”

Here is my advice.

First, there is nothing in PBIS that mandates the teacher must give the rewards. Have the students perform the task. When … >>>

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An Easy Way to Reduce Conflict and Stress in Relationships

Image of a brown teddy bear and a beige teddy beat sitting back-to-back, as if in conflict against each other.

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, no two children (or adults for that matter) are the same. Each individual, young or old, views the world differently, interacts with others in a distinctive way, and processes information uniquely.

Differences are good. It would be boring if everyone acted, behaved, and thought the same way. But sometimes, interacting with people who are vastly different from you (as with many parent/child relationships) can be stressful.

Noticing behavioral styles among people is nothing new. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the first to categorize behavioral styles. Jung postulated that every individual develops a primacy in one of four major behavioral functions: intuiting, thinking, feeling, and sensing. If you and your child operate from different behavioral styles, … >>>

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The Secret to Stress-Free Relationships

Image of a question mark made up of question words like "who,'" "what'" "when," "how," and "why."

A number of experts in sales emphasize the importance of building relationships for achieving success. Such an approach also makes interactions with others less stressful.

Here is a classic from Ed Oakley’s “Enlightened Leadership.”

There is a famous story about a life insurance company. The salespeople went through the training program and were very successful for about 18 months. After 18 months, their sales dropped off.

The company made quite an intensive investigation as to the reason. They found that the people followed the training approach of the company, which was to ask questions. Using this approach, the salespeople not only got to know financial problems and concerns, but also something about the people themselves. The questioning approach led to … >>>

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Let Children Solve their Own Problems

Image of a child in front of a chalkboard with a light bulb drawn on it. The light bulb symbolizes the child having an idea.

Always encourage children and students to look to themselves to solve problems, rather than relying on others. This is critical because many well-meaning parents and teachers too often do things for children that they could and should be doing themselves.

Never take on a young person’s problems if he or she is capable of meeting the challenge. The reason is that every time you solve a problem for someone who is capable of solving the problem without you, you are depriving the person of an opportunity to become more responsible. In addition, the person misses the satisfaction that arises from success.

As it has been aptly said, “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some … >>>

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Feeling Stressed? Change Your Perception

Image of a dark gray background with a door in the middle. The door is opening to a peaceful sunny day to illustrate a change in perception.

How many times have you blamed an event or person for your negative reaction? If you’re like most people, it has happened often. Everything from traffic jams, to comments made by others, to sudden changes of plans can make people upset. But what if I told you that these events, no matter how bad you think they are, are not the cause of your stress?

Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) wrote: “It is not the event itself that is the problem; it is the perception of that event.” In other words, the things that happen to us aren’t problems; rather, it is our reaction to the events that determine whether we feel stress or not. This bit of information has made one … >>>

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Ask Reflective Questions

Image of a question mark looking at itself in a mirror

If you’re tired of continually lecturing your students or children, or if you’re finding that rewards and punishments rarely change behavior long-term, it’s time to start asking reflective questions.

When you use reflective questions, you are directing the other person’s thinking. It is this questioning process that starts the thinking process, both for you and for the other person. This kind of questioning is a gift to the person being asked because it induces clarity of thought. Similarly, the answer can be a gift to the person asking because it is a quick way to obtain and understand the other person’s viewpoint.

Asking reflective questions increases your awareness of a child’s perceptions, thereby significantly increasing your understanding of the child. … >>>

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How to Relax During Stressful Situations

Image of a brain wearing sunglasses sitting in a beach chair on a beach relaxing

Trying to relax during a stressful situation can be a challenge. After all, it’s hard to relax when your mind is racing and when events are stressing you out. If you find taking a break to relax difficult when the pressure is on, consider the following approach.

During the last days of World War II, someone commented to President Harry Truman that he appeared to bear up under the stress and strain of the presidency better than any previous president, that the job did not appear to have aged him or sap his vitality, and that this was remarkable—especially in view of the many problems which he faced as a wartime president.

His response was, “I have a foxhole in … >>>

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Child Discipline Done Right

positive discipline

Every parent and teacher struggles with child discipline from time to time. They want to use authority in their approach, but not necessarily be labeled as authoritarian. The keys to the success of using authority without being punitive are in using positive communications, empowering by offering choices, and by prompting reflection. These practices instill the mindset that the objective is to raise responsibility, rather than to punish. I talk about each of these in detail in my books Discipline Without Stress and Parenting Without Stress.

Punishment fosters evasion of responsibility and also has the disadvantage of increasing the distance between parents and children. A far more effective approach than punishment is to treat any situation as a teaching and … >>>

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Your Mindset and Stress

mindset and stress

If you feel that your life is stressful, you may need to alter your mindset.

The fact is that we all perceive life through filters developed from our temperament and experiences. Your mental set functions all the time, consciously or nonconsciously. Having a limited mental set hampers solutions to challenges, thus causing increased stress.

Therefore, a critical key to problem solving and stress reduction is expanding your mindset by cultivating an open questioning approach. Questions that engage your thoughts influence the quality of your life. By cultivating an open questioning state of mind, you broaden your universe and improve your ability to travel through it.

It’s easy to talk about having an open mind, but frequently mindsets are constrained by … >>>

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Ask Questions to Take Control

Ask questions

If you want to have more control in situations and conversations, try asking more questions. One of the key ideas I suggest people write down during my seminars is this: “The person who asks the question controls the conversation or the situation.”

Let me demonstrate how this works. You walk into a store and the salesperson asks, “How are you today?” Isn’t there a natural tendency to answer?

Here is another situation. A friend with whom you are talking suddenly asks you a question. Do you stop and answer the question or do you continue with your monologue? Chances are you stop and answer the friend’s question.

If you want to discipline a student or child, control the situation by … >>>

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Obedience Does Not Create Desire

When enforcing rules, imposing punishments, or doling out rewards, be aware that these approaches aim at obedience, rather than promoting responsibility—and that obedience does not create desire.

The most effective approach to have young people do what adults want them to do is to tap into their emotions. Following rules requires thinking—not feelings. Yet feelings and emotions drives the majority of our decisions.

I use the word “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules” because I am able to have young people WANT to become responsible. I do this by tapping into the good feelings a person gets from being responsible. Once young people are exposed to the Hierarchy of Social Development, they want to raise themselves to the highest level—simply by … >>>

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Stress and Student Performance

stress and student performance

Schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet standards. The pressure of taking standardized tests gets passed on to students.

Standardized tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids perform below their true abilities. Students with test anxiety manage to get something down on paper, but their capacity to think clearly and solve problems accurately is reduced by their nervousness. This anxiety can expand to college admissions exams and lead to reduced motivation.

Even little kids aren’t immune to test anxiety. Researchers have seen evidence of it in students as young as first and second graders. Their worries tend to manifest in nonverbal signs such as stomach aces, difficulty sleeping, and a persistent urge to … >>>

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Know the Opportunity Costs to Reduce Stress

stress and opportunity costs

One way to reduce stress is to realize that everything in life has a price. The key to reducing stress is knowing the price beforehand and being willing to pay the price.

I’m not talking about actual dollars and cents here. I’m talking about the emotional, mental, or physical costs for every action you take.

For example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s great technology universities, new students are asked to choose two from the following: friends, grades, or sleep.

The point, of course, is that one cannot have all three.

The concept that “everything has a price” is similar to “opportunity costs” that economists use. For example, if you watch a television program, rather than … >>>

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Rewards Sabotage Teamwork

bad teamwork

I’ve long-asserted that rewards are counter-intuitive. A friend told me the following story that illustrates how rewards also sabotage teamwork. My friend was chatting with a man who coaches sports teams of 8 and 9-year-olds. He mentioned that he had a lot of difficulty this year in getting the kids to work together as a team.

My friend, an experienced primary teacher, started to offer some suggestions that she had found successful for developing an atmosphere of teamwork in her classroom. But the gentleman quickly stopped her.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not the kids who are the problem; it’s the parents! The parents have all told their kids that they would get money for every goal they … >>>

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Make Learning Less Stressful

learning and stress

Many people find it challenging to separate themselves from what others may think about them. This is especially the case when it comes to learning. We can see this play out in classrooms and workplaces every day. Both children and adults are afraid to make a mistake when learning something new, and as a result they prefer not to take chances, not to speak up with new ideas, and not to stretch beyond their current comfort zone. Doing so is simply too stressful.

But consider this: generally, people are not embarrassed to make mistakes when learning a musical instrument. They don’t give up when they play a wrong note on the piano—or in my case the Great Highland Bagpipes.

The … >>>

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Dr. Marvin Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
PO Box 11 Los Alamitos, CA 90720
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Marv@MarvinMarshall.com
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