Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – January 2016

Volume 16 Number 1 January 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 



You are who you are when no one is watching you.


A rat used for experimental purposes was returned to his cage.
He explained to his fellow rats, “You know, I’ve got Dr. Skinner conditioned.”

“How so?” asked his fellow rats.

“Well, every time I press the bar, he gives me food.”



Happy New Year to the thousands of subscribers from around the world who join me in promoting responsibility and learning. This begins the sixteenth year of this monthly newsletter, and I hope to continue sending it out in its current format for many years to come.

A friend suggested that this newsletter has interesting, creative, and valuable information (her words) and that I should share my thoughts and ideas more often than just once a month. I have decided to take her advice since I believe that I have a moral obligation to help people improve their lives.

Wirth this in mind, I plan to start sharing some “Without Stress Tips” once a week from the book I am writing: “LIVE WITHOUT STRESS: How to Enjoy the Journey.” To subscribe to the new “WITHOUT STRESS TIPS,” just send an email to Contact@WithoutStress.com and type CONTACT in the subject line. As with this newsletter, your address will always be kept confidential, will not be released to anyone, and you can unsubscribe any time.

You will receive short tips as soon as the site is up.


Some interesting points from recent readings:

Scientific American Mind, January/February 2016, p.13

DRESS FOR SUCCESS: What you wear has an effect on your mindset, performance, and even hormone levels. Many studies shows that the clothes you wear can affect your mental and physical performance. A growing body of research suggests that there is something biological happening when we put on a snazzy outfit and feel like a new person. Other points:
• If you want to be a big-ideas person at work, suit up.
• Informal clothing may hurt in negotiations.
• Trying too hard to look sharp can backfire.
• Wearing counterfeit glasses increases unethical behavior by making their wearers feel less authentic.


Tine Magazine, Dec. 28, 2015 / Jan. 4, 2016, p.26


• Surprising effects of mindset on the body: Negative moods create physical changes.
• Anger and heart-attack risk: Stress triggers increased hear rate and blood pressure, and blood-vessel constriction and clotting.
• Mindfulness and body fat: People who are more aware may be more likely to eat healthier and exercise more.


One of the oddest conversations communicated to me was about a very bright, very disruptive 7-year-old. The youngster had a history of misbehavior at school with lots of office time and suspensions. At the beginning of the year, the teacher sat with him after a minor infraction and said, “You know I can’t MAKE you behave; that’s something you have to want to do for yourself.”

“And this little boy said, ‘You HAVE to make me behave. That’s your job!”

They spent about 15 minutes in a conversation that ended up centering not on the misbehavior that had occurred but on the idea that the youngster had somehow picked up from kindergarten and first grade that it was the teacher’s job to be in charge of his behavior. He pointed out that the teacher should or could use behavior charts (he knew of several), or prizes, or stickers. He had all sorts of suggestions the teacher could use to cchange the boy’s behavior.

Although it took a while, this child did eventually figure out how to be in charge of his behavior. The teacher believed the lesson he learned served him better than his notion of teachers’ controlling him.

The teacher concluded her communication with, “What an eye-opener for what we do to kids with some of our behavior systems!”


The following technique may seem unusual, but it has been researched, proven many times, and has garnered thousands of testimonials about its effectiveness at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory at Harvard University.

The technique—which I refer to as “Power Posing”—has to do with how your BODY can improve your effectiveness while also reducing your stress.

Here is how it works.

Stand like the character Superman or Superwoman. Place your feet part, put your hands on your hips with thumbs pointed to the rear, elbows out, and with your shoulders down and back. Stand in this power position for 60 seconds and your body will influence your brain because this position causes hormonal changes in your body’s chemistry.

Stand in this power position for one minute before entering what you think may be a stressful situation. When using this technique, you will find that your have become more confident and in command.

Of course, slouching has the opposite effect.


Dr. William Glasser, the originator of “Reality Therapy” and “Choice Theory,” believed that attempts to change others by using “external control psychology” (including the common approaches of imposing punishments or rewarding to control) are eventually doomed to fail. He referred to such “external approaches” as the “seven deadly habits.” He listed them as: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and rewarding to control.

To prove his point, just respond to the following:

How do you feel when someone criticizes you?
How do you feel when someone blames you?
How do you feel when someone complains to you?
How do you feel when someone nags you?
How do you feel when someone threatens to do something to you?
How do you feel when someone punishes you?
How do you feel when someone offers you a bribe to do something?

Remember that a change is emotional as much as it is intellectual. We know we should or should not do things, but it is only when our emotions kick in that we are prompted to act.

Rarely will we want to do something when we feel bad about doing it. People, including youth, do better when they feel better—do good when they feel good, not when they feel bad.

In short, using any of the “seven deadly habits” destroys relationships and result in resistance, which leads to disconnection. Using any of the “seven deadly habits” is not a good way to improve relationships or discipline youth.


The idea of a hierarchy can be used in a variety of ways. Here is one on Volumes of Voices:

Level 0 Silence
Level 1 Whispering
Level 2 Soft voice only a partner can hear
Level 3 Normal speaking voice
Level 4 Louder voice when speaking for the whole class to hear
Level 5 Outside playing


Conversation from a parent/counselor in last month parenting section continues:

Dear Dr. Marshall,

Thank you for your wise advice, and, yes, I do need to zip the lip! Thank you for this guidance, it will help us. I have just a couple more questions. Here are some specific challenges for us when our son is in our own house.

“1. He plays violent video games that we don’t allow into the house, but somehow they ended up in the house. We took control of our house about a year ago and got rid of a bunch, but they will reappear when friends bring them in. Now that he is in college, should we ignore and just enjoy his time home?”

MM: He will find one way or another to play video games. If you want to improve your relations with him, drop your insistence that the videos not be brought into the house. However, you may want to ask him if he plans to limit the time he spends with them. Feel free to suggest that if he does not limit his time in the activity, he may not realize it but he may be a victim by becoming addicted to them and thereby losing control of himself.

“2. He spends too much money. Last year we made him take out a $2,000 loan for college because of his spending. We are paying for college with him using what he makes during the summer.”

MM: When the topic of money comes up, ask him if paying for college is his or your responsibility. The point here is to have him realize that you have no obligation to pay for his college. You gave him life, tended to his needs, and love him. You have no further obligation to direct his life.

“3. He sleeps until 1PM in Hawaii for Christmas. Do we allow this and leave without him to do activities? Give choices, sleep, or go with us? Some days will just be a walk to the beach day when you feel like it but others we will drive to do things.”

MM: It’s his life and his choice—unless it involves safety or physical health. Without realizing it, his basic motivation may come from anything you do that he interprets as being coercive. Your obligation is to your husband, not your son. As soon as you and your son understand this the greater will be his motivation to be more responsible.

“4. He asks us to buy him a beer, has happened twice now. My husband and I have a beer about once every 2-4 months and have never drank around our kids. We are not sure what to do around him since he has been somewhat difficult and emotional. We want to be good role models.”

MM: You have been good role models; the rest is up to him. I repeat my mantra for successful parenting: Do not do things for young people that they can do themselves. When you do, you deprive the person of the joy that comes with being responsible.

“5. He shows anger when someone disappoints him, acting intensely angry or disappointed and cussing. This ruins the entire feeling of the house for everyone in it: ‘John was going to go to the movie with me but won’t answer his phone. He sure can be a dick!’ We have worked very hard with him on the cussing. We told him when he turned 18 that if he wanted to continue to live in our house the cussing would stop. It has almost stopped but we usually hear a word a day that we don’t want to hear in our home.”

MM: Look at the good side. He has improved. No one is perfect. Remind him of it only if it becomes habitual again, but share with him the thought that he is belittling himself because using crude comments demonstrates a lack of ability for appropriate expression.

“6. He is one of those kids who had to be forced to transition out the door through his entire childhood. Let’s get ready to go for a walk/hike/kayak ride/out to dinner. ‘Nooooo, I don’t want to.’ Once we got him into the activity he had a great time.”

MM: Stop regurgitating the past. Watering last year’s plants is fruitless. Focus on the present and future.

“7. As an adult he now sits in his room often rather than engaging in new or different activities. Yes, his choice, and we have talked to him about it since he gets depressed. Now that he is an adult we still feel the urge to talk him into doing things with us that we know he will enjoy. We live in Alaska and LOVE snow/fat tire biking. It is not difficult and really fun. He is a super skilled biker and last winter we winter biked 1 time as a family on Christmas Eve and he really liked it. Most kids that we know would give anything to do these cool activities but he “rejects” them and this does tend to hurt our feelings, as well as make us sad for what could be a super boring/couch potato life.”

MM: Seems like you are still trying to control him. By doing so you are bringing stress on yourself. It’s the old saw, which I put in question form: If you continue to do what you have always been doing, do you really think there will be different results?

“8. One of my biggest recent regrets is that we did not force him to hike the Chilkoot Pass with us 3 years ago. His employer said that they would give him the 6 days off but he fought to stay home. In the end he missed out on a once in a lifetime experience with incredible scenery, history, and a white sand floor of a forest. We came home at 3 AM to an 18-year-old who had been terrified to be in the big house alone. He had every light on in the house and hadn’t eaten nearly anything while we were gone.”

MM: Seems to me that YOU have a problem here—not your son.

“9. I so regretted not making him go with us. So my husband, daughter and I do a lot together. We go biking in Moab without him. This is sad. Any thoughts on this?”

MM: Yes. Don’t do it again.

10. “I promise I won’t continue to riddle you with countless emails. I do very much appreciate you responding to my first email with wise advice. Parenting is a topic of interest for me and as a middle school counselor I am continually giving parenting advice. Can I add your website and book list to our school resource page for parents?”

MM: Absolutely! You may also want to share anything else on my website. Here are a few examples:

Parenting Model
Tips for Parents
101 Tips for Parenting Without Stress
Parenting Without Stress


The following was from a question, “How does your approach differ from others?” Discipline Without Stress differs from others in the following ways :

• It is a total system that can resolve any behavior problem.
• It promotes responsibility, rather than just obedience.
• It is proactive, rather than reactive—not waiting until something happens first.
• Choice is always available and emphasized. For example, there are two acceptable levels and two unacceptable levels from which to choose.
• It teaches the difference between external and internal motivation.
• It prompts young people to not only WANT to behave cooperatively and responsibly but also to WANT to put forth effort into learning.
• It is totally noncoercive—but never permissive .
• It eliminates confrontations and resentful feelings because reference is made to a generic LEVEL of development, thereby eliminating a natural desire to defend one’s behavior. • It improves classroom management by focusing on procedures, rather than rules to control.
• External manipulations and approaches such as using rewards to control or imposing punishments or threats are not necessary or need to be used.
• No stress or adversarial relationships are created with anyone involved.


I do not need to send anyone to the office. I like controlling my own students because the office just issues lunch detentions and these little guys don’t get that. I must say, there isn’t any tension in the classroom and we are caring more and more about each other.
—Brianne Siderio Somerdale, New Jersey




Copyright © 2016 Marvin Marshall

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