Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2015

Volume 15 Number 2


  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 




Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our responses lie our growth and our freedom.
—Viktor Frankl – Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and renowned Holocaust survivor

Last month I indicated that reference to electronic products lacked consistency. Reference is made to e-mail and email; e-book, ebook, and eBook, and e-learning and eLearning.

My experiment of attempting to be consistent by using eBook, eLearning, and (therefore) eMail seemed too strange. I quote Dan Poynter, the guru of self-publishing, who wrote me the following in response to my desire for consistency:

“The word for electronic books began as e-book. Then the word became more common and progressed to eBook. Finally, it became it own word and evolved to ebook (or Ebook). I coined the word “eBook”; however, now I type “ebook” and I expect many will follow.”

With this in mind, I let go of my desire for consistency and will use the terminology that is becoming more common: email, ebook, and eLearning. (Technically, eLearning is a specific type of online learning.)

My wife is a novelist and also writes a free monthly newsletter about books, films, and the other arts.

Here is a sampling of past subjects: CANNIBALISM following its treatment in MOBY DICK, honor to the director Mike NICHOLS, the latest biography on TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, Tom Friedman’s four words in the English language that are now obsolete (Privacy, Average, Later, and Local), and our house flood that had us living at the Best Western for 77 nights.

If you enjoy novels and reading about the arts, take a look at her site and subscribe to her newsletter.


A common thinking today is that it is necessary to reward people to do what you would like them to do. In this regard, I share the following:


“I know what you are trying to say that people get paid for work they do. However, if we don’t like our work, or feel that we are mistreated, we can quit. Students can not quit. What will happen when they think they are not getting paid enough because the assignments have become harder? They may quit or demand more money.”


“The comparison of students being paid for school work and adults being paid for their jobs is addressed on page 251 in Marshall’s education  book. (p. 265 in the most recent edition) 

“Money is a satisfier—not a motivator….Students do not receive money for learning. Besides, giving money for learning would be a mistake. External rewards alter motivation and diminish creativity, two of the most important incentives for learning.

“Myth 4: The world operates on rewards and people would not work without them. Because effort is involved in work and effort is involved in learning, equating the two is rapidly taking its toll on education.

“Employment is a contract, a remuneration for service. Schools do not employ students to perform services. The purposes of school and business are different, the products are different, the people are different, the tasks are different, funding and compensation are different, the success factors are different, and the procedures and time factors are different. Leaning is not profit motivated. Learning is learning; it is not business.

“To add an additional point that money is a satisfier and not a motivator (as assumed by merit pay plans), answer the following question to yourself: ‘If you were paid more money, would you put in more effort than you are now?’

“Using a business model of accountability for learning is counterproductive. The comic strip character Dagwood Bumstead eloquently described this approach when he said, ‘You know, that makes a lot of sense if you don’t think about it.'” (Quoted from the Epilogue of Marshall’s education book)


Here are three (3) procedures to increase your effectiveness when you want to influence someone:

1) Start by paying a genuine compliment.
2) Ask an open-ended question for the person to start talking.
(Asking where the person was born is a great starter with a new acquaintance.)
3) Prompt the person to ask about you so you can share, e.g., “Anything I can do to help in your endeavors?”


Emotions have many variations: joy, contentment, serenity, frustration, sadness, sorrow, guilt, etc. If you break them down into their simplest elements, there are only two important categories; one sends positive messages and the other sends negative messages.

If you are mindful (conscious) of your emotions, you realize that they are affected by your thoughts, your self-talk, and by reactions prompted by your senses. (For example, HEARING a compliment prompts a good feeling; HEARING criticism prompts a negative one. SEEING someone smile at you prompts a nice feeling; SEEING a sad scene in a film prompts tears.)

It is normal for negative emotions to emerge in difficult situations. A negative emotional reaction to another person’s comments indicates that the other person is prompting (directing) your emotions. In such cases, redirect your thinking so positive emotions will be forthcoming.

In any situation where you feel bad, change your thinking because the emotion always follows cognition.


Creating a “Homework Hierarchy” may assist in more students completing homework assignments.

The procedure may encourage personal reflection and create a desire to put forth more effort. Guide your students to quickly create such a hierarchy—no need to write it down; just do it orally, something like:

LEVEL D – Motivation for doing a good job is internal.
– Completes homework and is proud of its quality
– Starts homework without adult reminders
– Returns homework on time
– Thinks about how this homework connects to other learning

LEVEL C – Motivation is external.
– Completes work for adult approval
– Relies on an adult to give reminders about homework

LEVEL B/A – Unacceptable behavior levels
– Does a messy, careless or incomplete job, or doesn’t do homework

As you assign hometasks each day, you might quickly discuss the benefits of operating on the highest two levels and prompt students to reflect on their feelings as they evaluate their own performance from previous days. As always, be sure to highlight the fact that greater personal satisfaction results from motivation at Level D.

Have students look at their own homework and silently reflect on their own chosen level of motivation. Have them set a goal for the next homework assignment, challenging them to improve if they aren’t satisfied with their current chosen level. Explain that there is always a new opportunity to do better the very next time hometask/homework is assigned.


Cursing and foul language that young people see or hear make such “naughty” words more acceptable in everyday life.

One way of having young people resist foul language is to point out that such language is aggressive and can lead to harmful acts.

Even if such words cause no harm, the question should be, “Does it help, enable, elevate, or make the person and society better?”


If you work with young people, the following will be of interest, not only for the message but because her school received free books. (Charity)

“I have been a Special Education teacher for over 20 years. The idea that behavior is a choice is something that I have always tried to teach my students. When I discovered The Raise Responsibility System, I was so excited I wanted to start using it right away! Alas, it was summer, and when school started I didn’t have any students assigned to my class.

“I was eventually assigned to shadow a first grade student with severe ADHD who was without his medication. After several days of having to remove him from his class due to unruly behavior, I decided to teach him the Hierarchy of Social Development. He grasped the concepts right away.

“Because of the ADHD, I made him a flip card as a visual reminder to keep on his desk. After that, all we had to do was ask him what level his behavior was currently and what should it be if it was Level A or B.

“We did have one afternoon that he looked at my assistant and told her as he flipped his card over ‘I am choosing Level A behavior right now.’ He became so disruptive he had to be removed. He didn’t like the Level A teacher’s behavior that was prompted by his Level A behavior. He hasn’t made that choice again.

“I am also the PBIS coordinator for my campus. This is an initiative we started several times over the years and it always became stagnant as teachers become discouraged.

Last year, we started started with expectations rather than with rules. We have had some great things happening on campus. But we have teachers that are still focused on punishment for unacceptable behavior.

“If they could read the book, DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, I feel this would change and they would be more willing to try The Raise Responsibility System.

“I already have some that are willing to try it based on what they have seen with the students I have started it with.”

Sincerely ,
—Samantha Phillips – Raymondville, Texas”

Read more.


Hello Dr. Marshall,

First, I want to thank you for something you shared in your recent newsletter. I listened to the podcast of the “This American Life” episode you cited, and I just love that you gave practical examples of how to use DWS (Discipline Without Stress) in these situations. I hear time and time again that this won’t work with “these” students. I teach near Ferguson, Missouri. I have those kids that are more than willing to throw desks, hit the teacher or just walk out the door when they feel they are being coerced into doing something.

I had contacted you in the past about how I teach in a PBIS district and that our building took that to mean we should encourage good behavior through token rewards and ignore bad behavior. I had been trying to implement DWS with limited success because I teach elementary music and only see the kids 55 minutes a week, but I really am seeing a change in their choices and in my own response to behaviors. They are even using the language of the hierarchy in other classrooms. But I still have to compete with immediate token rewards that students are receiving from their homeroom teachers.

To fix this problem, I finally decided to try to teach DWS to other teachers in my district. This past Monday I was allowed 45 minutes to present a very limited overview of the system, and it was met with much enthusiasm. I had been telling the teachers about the strategies, but wasn’t really able to explain fully before they started rolling their eyes or telling me how our students, that come from poverty, won’t be able to master their own behavior. Having a forum to explain how to use the hierarchy and how it connects with PBIS got a lot of teachers excited. Teachers have been emailing me to get more information, and I insisted that they have their librarians buy a copy of your book. I hope that I will be able to do another presentation in the spring and convince the district to bring you in to present.

Thank you so much for your ideas, your book, and your practical ways of teaching responsible behavior to children.

—Crystal Estey – Ferguson, Missouri

The “This American Life” broadcast referred to is #7 in the November, 2014 newsletter.

Landmark  EDUCATION book: 

Award-winning PARENTING book: