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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting


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 … >>>


Grading Student Behavior Doesn’t Work

grading student behavior

I have heard of teachers grading student behavior. But I was thunderstruck when a parent informed me that a teacher was using the letters of the Hierarchy of Social Development to have students grade themselves.

When you ask children to grade themselves on their behavior, the inference is that this is necessary because they may behave irresponsibly. This, by itself, is contrary to the Discipline Without Stress model. Teachers should be positive and assume that students will act responsibly.

The Perils of Grading Student Behavior

We all know that on a grading scale the letter “A” represents the highest. Unfortunately—AND WITH GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT—this teacher was asking students to grade their own behavior each day, … >>>


Promote Student Responsibility

student responsibility

When I returned to the classroom after 24 years in counseling and administration, the lack of responsibility on the part of some students glared out at me. That’s when I asked myself, “How can I promote responsible behavior?”

The outcome was the Raise Responsibility System, which you can find a plethora of information about on my website. In developing the program, I decided to be PROACTIVE, rather than always reacting after an inappropriate behavior. That’s when I developed the Hierarchy of Social Development.

Terms that Promote Responsibility

Every so often someone writes me about the problems the person has with using the vocabulary with young people. Here is my response about two of the terms.

Regarding the term “democracy”:… >>>


Internal Motivation Drives Behavior

Internal Motivation Drives Behavior

For decades I’ve said that internal motivation drives behavior. I’ve seen this truth daily throughout my career. It’s the reason why I wrote the book Discipline Without Stress—to help teachers teach students the difference between internal motivation and external motivation and how each impacts their behavior.

In the Discipline Without Stress discussion group, a teacher made a comment about wanting to use Discipline Without Stress to “give young people a meaningful voice in their education.” One of my dear colleagues and friends, Kerry Weisner, responded with her viewpoint. Here is her reply:

“Giving kids ‘a meaningful voice in their education’ is not my goal when I use ideas from DWS in my teaching or parenting. Perhaps I misunderstand what … >>>


Children’s Rights and Responsibilities

rights and responsibilitiesWhat are our children’s rights and responsibilities? We all want our children to be responsible at home and at school. And children certainly feel that they have rights. What is often overlooked, though, is how intertwined rights and responsibilities are. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. That’s why it’s important for young people to understand that their rights are often accompanied by responsibilities, and they need to know what each is specifically.

Here is a list created several years ago by 14-16 year old students and their teacher of Cowichan Valley Alternative School in Duncan, British Columbia, Canada. It accurately shows the rights and subsequent responsibilities each young person has.

Children’s Rights and Responsibilities List

  • I have
>>>READ MORE >>>

Stop Praising Students

praising studentsPraise is patronizing, so stop praising students. Praise also has a price. It implies a lack of acceptance and worth when the youth does not behave as the adult wishes. Using a phrase that starts with, “I like,” encourages a young person to behave in order to please the adult. By contrast, acknowledgment simply affirms and fosters self-satisfaction in the young person.

Notice the difference in the following examples of praising students versus acknowledging them:

Praise: “I am so pleased with the way you treated your brother.”

Acknowledgment: “You treated your brother very well.”

Praise: “I like the way you are working.”

Acknowledgment: “Your working shows good focus and control.”

Praise: “I’m so proud of you for your … >>>


Reflective Questions Make Interactions Less Stressful

reflective questionsAsking reflective questions is the key ingredient to making interactions with youth less stressful. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or someone who interacts with children on a regular basis, you’ll find that reflective questions reduce tension, defuse frustrating situations, and promote responsible thinking in youth.

Asking reflective questions becomes easier with practice. Initially, when you decide to embark on this path, the process can seem difficult. Some teachers and parents actually make a chart of the reflective questions offered in the book, Discipline Without Stress (p. 19-20). They carry the list of questions with them and pull them out to review when the need arises. Remember, it doesn’t hurt for there to be a pause (as you formulate a … >>>


Having a Teaching System is Better than Having a Talent for Teaching

Working in Harlem under contract for three years with the New York City Board of Education taught me an invaluable lesson: Having a teaching SYSTEM is far superior to talent when a teacher faces challenging behaviors in the classroom.

The assistant superintendent and I were very impressed while observing a teacher one year. We agreed that the teacher was a “natural.” However, when I visited the teacher the following year, she told me that three boys were such challenges that she could use some assistance.

Even teachers with a “natural talent” are challenged by student behaviors that teachers in former generations did not have to deal with. To retain the joy that the teaching profession offers and to reduce one’s … >>>


Practice Procedures

Developing procedures is crucial for success in the classroom. But don’t stop there! Once you and your students develop the procedure, you all must practice it.

Remember that procedures are different from rules. Procedures have no rewards or punishments. You simply practice until everyone understands them. When a student asks about something, or isn’t doing something for which you have a procedure, you simply ask, “What is our procedure?” By doing so, you put the responsibility back on the student to think of the procedure or to practice it after a reminder.

All classroom procedures should be thoroughly discussed and planned with student input. Additionally, post your procedures on the wall on a student-made chart. Because everyone agrees on the … >>>


Acknowledging Appropriate and Acceptable Behavior

The following was written by my friend Kerry Weisner. She offers some excellent advice and observations on the topic acknowledging appropriate and acceptable behavior.


Reflection and self-evaluation are key attributes of the Raise Responsibility System. By referring to the Hierarchy, adults can encourage reflection on the higher, desirable levels. After explaining/teaching the Hierarchy, the procedure is for the adult to ask the young person to identify the chosen level.

It is unnecessary and even counterproductive to attempt to evaluate the motivation levels of C (external) or D (internal). However, it can be very empowering for young people themselves to assess their own level in various situations. By becoming consciously aware of the powerful inner feelings of satisfaction arising … >>>


Motivate for Responsible Behavior

We prepare teachers to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and other useful skills and worthwhile information leading to knowledge—and, hopefully, wisdom. Unfortunately, teachers are not taught that which is most essential when first entering the classroom: How to motivate for responsible behavior AND motivate students to want to put forth effort in their learning.


Practitioners of the Raise Responsibility System (Roman Numeral III at http://marvinmarshall.com/files/pdf/teaching_model.pdf) understand that the ONLY part of the system STUDENTS need to understand are the four levels of personal and social development. Lower levels A and B are unacceptable, whereas the higher levels C and D are both acceptable. Also, THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEVEL C … >>>


Civility and Responsibility

One of the attributes of The Discipline Without Stress methodology is the promotion of the basic characteristic of any character education approach: Taking responsibility for one’s behavior. Without “responsibility” no other trait of civility would be possible.

George Washington and many of the other founding fathers of the USA first focused on how one could IMPROVE ONESELF as the first criterion to influence others. “The Rules of Civility,” the etiquette planner that Washington copied as a teenager, begins with the following admonition: “Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

Perhaps the concept of “appropriate” or “unwritten rules” should be revisited with young people. Examples abound: wearing pajamas in … >>>


The Most Effective Way to Influence Others

There is a story about an old and wise martial arts master who invited his new student to share tea and conversation and to begin the teacher-student relationship. The student—who already had much training from other teachers—looked eager and ready to learn and said, “Teach me, master, how to be a great fighter.”

The wise master reached over with the teapot and began to pour the tea. He continued to pour even after the cup filled to the top. Tea began pouring down the sides. The student panicked, “It is already full. Why are you still pouring?”

The master responded, “So too, is your mind. It is filled with previous knowledge and experiences. You must empty your mind of everything … >>>


Responsibility and Behavior

Today I’d like to share with you a post from Discipline Answers. I think you’ll agree that while humorous, this post reveals a lot about what’s wrong with so many behavior modification approaches in use today.

“One of the oddest conversations I ever had with a child was with a very bright, very disruptive 7-year-old. He had a history of misbehavior at school with lots of office time and suspensions. At the beginning of the year I sat with him after a minor infraction and during our conversation I casually said something about, ‘Well, you know I can’t MAKE you behave; that’s something you have to want to do for yourself. And you get to think about your behavior … >>>


Modeling Responsibility

Regardless of the character trait—whether it be self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, fairness, honesty, empathy, integrity or any other—every trait relies on responsibility. No positive character trait can exist without it. In addition, none can be mandated or given.

These traits are not inborn. They need to be learned. This requires teaching.


Following is a good classroom management checklist for schools. DO YOUR STUDENTS KNOW:
• How to enter your classroom quietly?
• What they should do right after the bell rings?
• How to pass … >>>


Questions About Work Ethic

Here are a few of the most common questions I receive from teachers regarding students’ work ethic. Some of them may resonate with you.

Question 1: Is your system of promoting responsibility connected to work ethic or just behaviors of following the rules?

My reply:
First, I always say, “Rules are meant to control, not inspire.” I became a teacher for the latter, not the former. Second, I refer to character education on seven pages in my book. The foundational principle of any character education or work ethic is responsibility. Without it, nothing else stands.

Question 2: Does your system work well with secondary students?

My reply:
The teaching model works with anyone, of any age, in any learning situation.… >>>


Questions About Rewards

Here are a few of the most common questions I receive from teachers regarding rewards. Some of them may resonate with you.

Question 1: “I am aware of your stance on giving students rewards. However, when students do their work and get good grades, isn’t the grade a reward?”

My reply:
Yes, the good grade is a reward, and there is nothing wrong with this reward. Neither is anything wrong with rewards as acknowledgments.

What I object to is giving rewards for expected, appropriate behavior. Grades are an incentive and they work to motivate only if the person is interested in a good grade. Many students are. But some could care less about the grade given them by a teacher.… >>>


Do Teens Need Discipline?

I often come across articles about how an incompletely developed brain accounts for the emotional problems and irresponsible behavior of teenagers. It is true that teenagers, by virtue of their hormonal changes, are prone to be emotionally volatile, unpredictable, self-absorbed, and hypersensitive. However, the IMMATURE BRAIN that supposedly causes teen problems is nothing less than a myth. Most of the brain changes that are observed during the teen years lie on a continuum of changes that takes place over much of our lives.

In addition, some of these myths are based on studies of brain activity of teens as compared to adults. But snapshots of brain activities have nothing to do with causation. A person’s emotions, such as stress, continuously … >>>

Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
PO Box 11 Los Alamitos, CA 90720
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