Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2015

Volume 15 Number 12 December 2015
Newsletter #173 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 



My dad would use the strap, but my mother would have a way of loving me into doing the right thing.
—Cavett Robert, Founder, National Speakers Association


In this season of giving and until the end of this month, discounts are available for my two “Without Stress” booksIf you are looking for a gift for a parent of a child or a gift for someone in the teaching profession, consider one of the books described below. NOTE: Be sure to check “FREE SHIPPING” if your postal address is in the U.S. Also, be sure to add the coupon for the book. (If you order both books, please order them separately. If both are ordered together the system will only send the last one that is entered.)

How to Raise Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own
Insert coupon code: KIDS10 (a $10 savings)

How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility& Learning
Insert coupon code: EDU50 (a $20 savings)


Although fear is often negative self-talk about a perceived situation, 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.

We can learn from children. Children don’t say, “I can’t because I’m afraid.” For example, a youngster will get on a high diving board at a swimming pool and dive off even though she has never done it before. She’ll run to the parent with a great smile, and the parent will ask, “Weren’t you afraid?” She’ll respond, “Yes, I was afraid; I was really scared.”

But a grown-up won’t do the same thing. If you say to a grown-up, “Are you going to dive off the board?” the adult will say, “No, I’m afraid.” The mental talk of the adults is, “If I’m afraid, I can’t do it.” 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 comfortable.

Rather than saying, “I can’t do it,”—whether it is learning a new computer program, get going on the treadmill, or just acknowledging someone instead of evaluating the person—you can do it by easing into the task.

The Japanese have a word for it: kaizen. It comes from the words “kai” meaning school and “zen” meaning wisdom. It simply affirms that continuous progress comes from making small improvements. “SMALL” is the key word. Just take one step at a time when trying something new. This “warming up” to the task will have you feeling competent and successful in a shorter period of time than you would have expected.

When promoting responsibility in ourselves or actuating responsibility in others, take small steps rather than large leaps. The familiar aphorism states this idea succinctly: Small strokes fell great oaks.


A few reasons that I do not ask “Why?” questions to a person about irresponsible behavior:

1. The person may not know the motivation.
2. The person 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; it only satisfies curiosity.
6. It takes the focus away from changing behavior.
7. It too often implies that knowing the motive is necessary to change behavior.
8. It has little to do with creating new neural connections to change behavior.


I received the following email:

An associate of mine upset me when he was unable to keep his end of a verbal agreement. As more negative feelings and emotions began to overwhelm me, I plunked down hard on my chair and checked my email. The only unopened mail was your October newsletter. By the time I read through the whole issue, it was clear to me that reflection, choice, and positivity are equally applicable outside of the classroom.

I quote, from what really helped me. “When you disagree, you shut down communication and put the other person in opposition to you and what you’re saying. The person almost automatically thinks about why he/she is right and you are wrong. First clarify where you agree; then make your point.” This quote helped me move my thinking back towards solutions vs. isolation/anger/negativity, etc.

The process truly helps us all make better and more RESPONSIBLE decisions in our daily lives. I am excited about the upcoming book and effort to broaden your influence. (Referring to the book in process: “LIVE WITHOUT STRESS: How to Enjoy the Journey.”)

—Carlos González –  San Antonio, Texas

Note: Carlos became familiar with DWS as Vice Principal of Harlandale Middle School and helped implement its practice while serving as vice-principal. He wrote me that he has continued to experience amazing results in non-traditional after-school programs in San Antonio’s inner city.


On Nov 17, 2015, Carlos again wrote me:

I am working on a project that will involve 4 middle schools in a writing celebration. We are trying to stay away from a contest, although we would like to recognize the better submissions at a breakfast hosted at a local college campus. Any input or references you can give me regarding how to structure a non-competitive writing celebration is dearly appreciated.


I want to be clear at the outset that my approach does NOT mean that I am against competition. My position is that COMPETITION improves PERFORMANCE—but COLLABORATION improves LEARNING.

Any way you look at it, all contests are competitive. So, I do not see how you can have a non-competitive contest. But, as you indicate, this does not mean that ranking competitors is necessary. Consider giving each of the finalists some acknowledgment. Just the fact that they made it to the top four justifies some kind of recognition. Certificates, pins, or something else to commemorate the contest are perfectly appropriate.


A parent wrote to me, “I am a school counselor and should be able to deal with a personal situation. I am stumped at how to turn my dysfunctional relationship with my 21-year-old son into a functional one.” Her letter was long and detailed—explaining that the son was a high achiever in many areas but was temperamental and rebellious with her. She asked for my advice.


No doubt you are walking on eggshells—as you describe the situation. The only way to walk on them is CAREFULLY, but how to do it? The following may assist.

Start by envisioning your son as an infant (which is how he is acting). Infants have very sensitive feelings. What you say or do will be interpreted into a negative or positive feeling. He will act on his feelings—as he is now doing.

Second, before you say or do anything, ask yourself how he will interpret it. If he thinks it is coercive, prying, or negative, he will react negatively. So NEVER pry into anything. Leave it up to him if he wants to share.

Third, zip the lip. This will be your biggest challenge. Just listen. Even if you acknowledge something that he has done, he will probably resent it. So stay away from evaluating him in any way. Just listen and resist telling him anything. The reason is that “telling” has an inference: “What you are doing is not good enough and you need to change.” No one likes to be told what to do or that the person needs to change.

Just implementing these three practices will reduce your stress, prompt yourself for enjoying him, and improve your relationship.

Be patient. It will not happen overnight.

Download Tips for Parents.

Do not punish yourself. Being kind to yourself is critical for your own mental health.

Finally, resist any negative relations with your son to affect your relationship with your husband.


As you may know, many teachers and schools are having significant discipline difficulties dealing with the mandate to reduce office referrals and suspending “minority” students. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this: (1) educators have no idea that they are in the relationship and motivation profession, and (2) they have never learned to use authority without coercion. As far as I can determine, DWS is unique in this regard.

I urge you to WATCH THE 3-MINUTE VIDEO. Teachers must realize that when they plan their behavior program on rules, they have moved from a teacher to a cop because of the automatic reaction to enforce rules—rather than teach procedures.

If you are a teacher, here is a one-page rubric.

Here is one for parents.


I have taught first grade for many, many years. I have not been happy with our method of behavior management. We move clips down on little colored faces that change from happy to very sad. Over the years, I have noticed that the good children always stay on happy and those who have problems always stay on sad. Behavior never changes and the classroom atmosphere remains the same. Teachers complain and pull their hair. This has been going on for years and years.

I decided that this year I would make some changes. I went to the Internet and googled “behavior management.” After reading through many chat lines and teacher web pages, one name kept coming up again and again. It was Marvin Marshall. The information I got was impressive, so I ordered your book. I love it! As I am working through the book, I am picturing my first graders and I like what my classroom can be.

—Donna Alsup – North Central Texas




Copyright © 2015 Marvin Marshall

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