Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – April 2016

Volume 16 Number 4 April 2016
Newsletter #177 Archived


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials 



“When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
—Abraham Maslow

Where there is no participation by the one being disciplined, ownership will be lacking. When there is no ownership, there will be no lasting change.
—Marvin Marshall


The Discipline Without Stress eLearning program has been updated with a number of free short modules to view.

The charity for USA schools has also been updated:


Recent Without Stress Tips:
7 Assumptions are often the cause of needless stress
8 The difference between what is urgent vs. important
9 It is impossible to live without failing at something
10 Manage the conversation rather than the conflict


I have had the pleasure of presenting in Canada numerous times. Native people in Canada are referred to as members to the First Nation. In the USA, people whose ancestors occupied this territory are referred to as Native Americans.

Traditions of these cultures in both countries have much in common. One significant approach is using persuasion rather than coercion or manipulation with the young.

The approach advocates noncoercive influence by modeling, group influence, discussion, and positive expectations. Rather than a father’s saying, “You have to do this,” he would say something like, “Son, Some day when you are a man you will do this.”

This is a powerful way to encourage, nurture, empower, and establish expectations for responsible behavior.

Notice that the approach does not reward, punish, or tell. The adult SHARES in order to prompt reflective thinking. This is one of the key approaches of the Raise Responsibility System.


Becoming more effective is a way of traveling rather than a destination.

The only advantage of being a pessimist is that all your surprises are pleasant. But that’s pretty small stuff compared to the big payoff that comes from projecting positive expectations.

Much of our happiness or unhappiness is caused not by what happens but how we LOOK at what happens. In other words, by our thinking habits. And habits can be changed.

George Walther, in his book “Power Talking,” shows how you can foster the mind-set that interprets setbacks as positive opportunities. This is a skill that you can develop—one word, one phrase, one sentence at a time.

For starters, purge the words “I failed …” from your vocabulary, Walther urges. Replace them with “I learned …” to help your mind focus on the lessons involved.

Similarly, you might want to adopt the habit of using “challenge” when others would say “problem,” “I’ll be glad to” instead of “I’ll have to,” and “I’m getting better at …” rather than “I’m no good at …”

The subliminal effect of changing even a few words can prompt your mind to come up with creative solutions rather than dreading or fleeing the problem.


If you look around at your family, friends, and co-workers, you will see that the happiest people are the ones who don’t pretend to know what’s right for others and don’t try to control anyone but themselves.

You will further see that the people who are most miserable are those who are always trying to control others. Even if they have considerable power, the constant resistance in some form by the people they are trying to control promotes stress and hinders optimum relationships.

If you try to control others, you will be met with constant challenges. If you try to control a spouse or partner, the relationship will be stressful. If you try to control a friend, the friendship will be short-lived. Yet, so often, we try to control those who are most dear to us.

The fact is that you will rarely, if ever, solve a relationship problem by trying to make the other person see that you are right and he or she is wrong. On the other hand, you have probably never heard someone say, “I’m having a problem with what you are doing and I think I have to change what I do or we’ll never solve the problem.” Yet, this is the secret for improving relationships. Just keep it a secret. It’s not necessary to say it out loud, but it is essential to think in these terms.

In any relationship, rather than attempting to control the other person, simply ask yourself, “What can I do to improve the situation?” The result will be an option you will think of that will be so much more effective in influencing the other to change than any attempt at control.


Teachers and parents often make the mistake of thinking that because downtime is fun and relaxing that it’s frivolous or unproductive and not important.

Social scientists have found that recreational activity is as important as sleep is to our physical and mental health. Downtime isn’t a diversion; it is a vital aspect for effective learning.

When students take time to reflect or engage in a short reprieve from learning, they actually increase their learning, raise their levels of energy and mental acuity, and reduce stress. So don’t make the mistake of putting off downtime by thinking that it’s not important.


A cartoon illustrates two young children raking leaves. The mother is saying to her neighbor that she told her children they could NOT rake the leaves. The humorous cartoon points out that if you tell kids NOT to do something, they want to do it.

One of the songs from the musical, “The Fantastics,” makes the point with the following lyrics:

Dogs got to bark, a mule’s got to bray.
Soldiers must fight and preachers must pray
And children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute that you say no.

Why did the kids pour jam on the cat?
Raspberry jam all over the cat?
Why should the kids do something like that,
When all that we said was no?

My son was once afraid to swim.
The water made him wince.
Until I said he mustn’t swim:
So he has been swimming ever since!

Why did the kids put beans in their ears?
No one can hear with beans in their ears.
After a while the reason appears.
They did it ’cause we said no.

Your daughter brings a young man in,
Says, “Do you like him, Pa?”
Just say that he’s a fool and then You’ve got a son-in-law!

Sure as the June comes right after May!
Sure as the night comes right after day!
You can be sure the devil’s to pay
The minute that you say no.

Make sure you never say… No!

A gentleman asked me how he can prevent saying, “No” to his young child.
My suggestion was to use the MAGIC PRHASE: “NOT YET.”


The following request was sent me:
I would love to have your opinion on “Class Dojo.” It appears to be another carrot-and-stick approach that does NOT promote responsibility. As a resource teacher on my school board, I don’t feel comfortable telling other teachers what to do and how to teach; yet for the sake of the students, I know Class Dojo isn’t the answer. Could you please give me some advice on what to tell teachers?

Class Dojo is a classroom behavior management system where every student has his or her own avatar. All the avatars are public so that all students can see other students’ avatars. Teachers assign dojos (icons) to student avatars throughout a lesson. Teachers can also remove a dojo for misbehavior.

Since the avatars are available to all students, there is a natural tendency to compete for dojos. THIS approach PROMOTES COMPETITION—RATHER THAN COLLABORATION AND COOPERATION—which are MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL APPROACHES TO LEARNING. It also focuses on behavior rather than on instruction. Also, awarding dojos is unfair. If a student does all that is expected but does not receive a dojo, that student is “punished by dojos.”

When a student has a dojo taken away, all the students can see it. I don’t see how this can be explained in any other way than public shaming. Shaming students by removing dojos so all the students can see is an indication of how foolish the system is. With all that we now know about how cognition interacts with emotions, it is disgraceful that teachers are still prompting negative feelings in young people but expecting them to do good when they feel bad.

Rewarding students in attempts to control them is also counterproductive. Unfortunately, this approach is like so many others espoused by theorists. They relay on behaviorist techniques by using external manipulative approaches to control. Manipulative techniques do not lead to developing responsible citizens.

When adults use rewards such as dojos, candy, stickers, and movie passes to reinforce desired behaviors, they are using the values of children to motivate in HOPES that these characteristics will transfer to adult values. But they don’t. By using the things that children value, adults are merely reinforcing the values of children—NOT the values required to succeed in a democratic and free enterprise system—such as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Behaviorists who promote giving rewards to control behavior are not interested in values. They are only interested in changing behavior, which is the reason that neuroscientists do not use behavioral approaches. Scientists realize that humans are not like dogs, pigeons, or rats, which were used by behaviorists who extrapolated that, since rewarding behavior worked on these types of creatures, it would also work on human beings.

Rewards change behavior. When a reward is offered as a bribe to motivate, the adult will never know whether the motivation becomes one of getting the reward or because doing so is the right thing to do. More importantly, these rewards to control do nothing towards creating mature values in children. Instead, they prompt the mindset of, “If you want me to do what you want, what will you give me?” This approach leads to narcissism, which is not a good social or personal value.

So, while most kids will do what adults want them to do to get the dojo, the young people haven’t moved one step further towards becoming more mature or learning the values necessary for success.

In former generations, young people were expected to do what parents asked, and grew up with adult values. Too many of today’s adults are rewarding young people gratuitously. The result may be a generation of immature and selfish people.

I am still optimistic that Class Dojo and other techniques based on external manipulations to control young people will go the way of the dodo.

Finally, consider sharing the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model
and Counterproductive Approaches


The Raise Responsibility System (RRS) fits so perfectly with our core values and beliefs at Texas Leadership Charter Academy in developing leaders and responsible, well-educated citizens. It is definitely a tool for helping children act responsibly. I believe in this approach so much that I bought our son a copy of the book “Parenting Without Stress: How to Raise Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own.” http://piperpress.com

One thing I’ve discovered in this journey of adopting the RRS as a school-wide model is that it takes diligence to practice positivity, give students choices, and use reflective questions to help students assess their behavior and accept responsibility for their actions. It takes awareness and much practice in order for positivity, choices, and reflective questions to become new habits. But, WOW, is it worth the effort!

—Denise Rives, Principal, Texas Leadership Charter Academy





Copyright © 2016 Marvin Marshall

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