Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2016

Volume 16 Number 2 February 2016
Newsletter #174 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 



 “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”
—Abraham Lincoln


Since this newsletter is being distributed on the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, a few comments about him are worth sharing.

On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky. Growing up on pioneer farms in Kentucky and Indiana, he received almost no formal education but was self-taught devouring book after book.

He moved to Illinois in 1830 and working at a variety of jobs. He studied law, not by attending law school, but by reading numerous law books. He passed the Illinois bar exam and started practicing law in Springfield, Illinois. He entered the world of politics and eventually became the 16th U. S. President in 1861.

Regarded by most historians as one of America’s greatest presidents, Lincoln will forever be known as the man behind the Emancipation Proclamation, an 1863 executive order that freed more than three million slaves in the American South. Word and language lovers have also long-admired Lincoln for his self-effacing humor and quick wit. For example, when accused by Stephen Douglas (when competing for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois) of being two-faced, Lincoln was said to have turned to the audience and quipped, “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?”

Aside from the quote of the month, here are a few of my favorites Lincoln quotes:

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”


If you are an educator, link to my new eBook. IT’S FREE! Share it with other educators—especially K – 12 administrators.



My weekly “Without Stress Tips” is now active. The short tips includes ideas from my forthcoming book “LIVE WITHOUT STRESS: How to Enjoy the Journey,” the chapter on “motivation” from the book, and other ideas to increase the joy of living. Subscribers will receive one short tip each Wednesday morning on how to reduce stress and have life become more enjoyable.

Subscribe to the free WITHOUT STRESS TIPS




Here is a wonderful tale to make a significant point.

Once a little girl watched a moth trying to struggle free from its cocoon. Seeking to help the beautiful creature, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her knife. Ever so carefully, she cut away the cocoon and freed the moth.

For a long time, she watched the moth as it flapped its wings trying to fly. Finally, the wings sagged and the moth died.

The little girl was crushed. Her older sister tried to help and said, “Struggle gave strength to the moth’s wings. When you cut away the cocoon, you took away the very exercise that would have enabled it to fly.” None of us likes to struggle with difficulties and misfortunes, but a wise person accepts them as opportunities to grow.

The point: Don’t do things for others that they can do for themselves. When you do, you deprive them of the satisfaction and success that comes from their efforts.



“I have never won an argument in my life from my wife because she never argues. She just asks questions, asks questions, asks questions. Here is an example.

“I came home the other night and there was a bill for a new dress. I hit the ceiling. I said, ‘Sweetie, you know I’m not chintzy but not another dress this month?’

“Did she argue? No, she’s a pro.

“She said, ‘Honey do you remember when we were out the other night and you said how beautiful Ann looked? You want me to look as nice as Ann, don’t you?’

“Now, if I say, ‘No,’ I bought a whole new set of problems. But if I say, ‘Yes,’ I’ve bought shoes, bags, and a hat to match.”

— from “Leaving a Lasting Legacy,” (p. 45) a book about Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speakers Association



Here are some random thoughts on improving relationships:

Logic prompts people to think, but emotion prompts them to act. Communicate on both levels.

Focus on the behavior or comment that prompts upsetting or negative feelings—rather than on the person.

Share your feelings about the effects of what someone does or says. It’s healthy and aids relationships to say, “That comment really hurt me.” If you don’t tell the person what is bothering you, you may not fix what really is just a misunderstanding.

If another person acts rudely, that doesn’t make the person an ogre for a lifetime.

Describe breakdowns as “mutual” difficulties or challenges, rather than as something inflicted upon you by another person.

Much anger expressed maliciously is actually self-anger, which is being transferred to protect one’s own self-image. In this regard, one of my favorite questions is, “Are you angry with me or with the situation?” The question immediately prompts reflection and often results in an apology.

On occasion, let silence reign. These can be healthy periods for reflection. Resist the temptation to think of silence as a means to infuriate you.

Break tension through a nice, minor gesture. Offer something to drink, a kind word, a pleasant mutual memory, or something to momentarily redirect attention.

Ask for the other person’s help. It is a rare situation when you will ask someone (especially a younger person) for assistance and receive a negative response. Preface the request by saying, “I need your help on this.”

An adult can discipline a young person while still keeping good relationships when the practices of Discipline Without Stress are employed: thinking about the positive (rather than the negative), offering choices, and prompting reflection.



Nail biting may arise from perfectionism. The driving force behind nail biting may not be a nervous habit but instead anxiety in the form of perfectionism. Mounting evidence shows that people who bite their nails, pick their skin or pull their hair are often perfectionists, and their actions is an attempt help soothe boredom, irritation, or dissatisfaction. A manifestation of perfectionism is that young people in particular stop learning; they simply give up. Perfectionism become so tyrannical that students develop anxiety attacks. This leads to the thinking patterns that they cannot perform because they will not be good enough. The next stage is total paralysis.

We need to teach young people that perfectionism should never be the goal. Outstanding work, excellent work, superior work, rather than perfect work should be the aim simply because perfectionism in life’s vast experiences can never be achieved. Teach the mantra: “YOU CANNOT LEARN AND BE PERFECT AT THE SAME TIME.”



The following came from an email:

What is your advice for divorced families where parents share custody but have different views on discipline? I need to work on cultivating responsibility instead of obedience with my child; however, the other parent openly states that being a friend is important and we have to accept that our child isn’t “academically minded.” (The child is earning D’s and F’s in the first year of high school.)


Start with a discussion to clarify.

Being responsible is a different topic than having an interest in schooling. A person can have an interest in one but not the other.

Start by clarifying whether you want to be friends or parents to the child. Being a friend is one thing, but relinquishing authority as with a friend so that the child acts as his own parent is another. When a parent is a friend—in contrast to being friendly—the parent has abrogated the responsibility of being a parent. Successful parents can have have good relationships even on the occasions when authority is required. Discipline Without Stress teaches how to use authority without coercion so relationships are not damaged.

The parents can have a conversation with the youth explaining the Levels of Social Development: http://marvinmarshall.com/the-raise-responsibility-system/hierarchy/ When the young person understands the difference between Level C (external motivation) and Level D (internal motivation), the chances of changing behavior is significantly increased. The reason is that the young person learns that one’s behavior primarily affects one’s own life and helps prompt more mature choices.

I also recommend a private discussion with the school’s counselor explaining the situation. Ask the counselor to have a conversation with the student—and have the student tested. There may be an underlying physical condition (such as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome ) for the lack of academic progress.

For those interested in changing the behavior of young people, Dr. Jim Sutton’s “The Changing Behavior Network” is a wonderful resource. Dr. Sutton’s expertise includes working with young people with “oppositional-defiant,” “passive-aggressive,” and other challenging behavior patterns.



8. REVIEWS/TESTIMONIALSDear Dr. Marshall, we teachers in a large school district in Texas are often moved to teach different grade levels than those to which we have become accustomed. As I browsed the Internet looking for good usable suggestions to work successfully with a particular group of students, I found your website. Over the course of several years and several changes in teaching positions, I gleaned much from your numerous ideas for classroom management and your sensible ways to help children of all ages at school and at home. Your approaches supported me in enhancing students’ learning and experiencing more success. The common-sense suggestions were adaptable across elementary through middle school experiences, and I even shared them with family members who had children. Thank you for sharing the work you are doing.

Carol L. Brownsville, Texas




Copyright © 2016 Marvin Marshall

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