Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – November 2015

Volume 15 Number 11 November 2015
Newsletter #172 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 



Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean it makes you happy. 

In preparation for the USA’s Thanksgiving and the international giving seasons, the following discounts are now available. If you are looking for a gift for a parent of a child or a gift for someone is in the teaching profession, consider one of the following. I have not placed a limit on the number available at this reduced price. NOTE: Be sure to check “FREE SHIPPING” if your postal address is in the U.S. Also, add the coupon exactly as seen below. 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)


Just thought I would share something I received last week from my distributor who represents my international sales. Here is her report about Russian sales.

DISCIPLINE was on sale as of September 2014 – Hardcover. They printed 4,000 copies and to date have sold approximately 3,024 copies.

PARENTING went on sale in Russia in August 2013 – Softcover. They printed 4,000 + 4,000 + 5,000 = 13,000 and have sold approximately 12,105 books as of June 2015. Unfortunately, the ruble has fallen against the dollar significantly for the past year and no further royalties are due. I had to go over this report again and again to believe it. But at least you can say that 12,000 copies have been sold in the Russian language.


In the news:
Coercion used on defiant student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina results in police officer being fired.

The video showing the defiant student being flipped over while sitting at her desk has gone viral. One side says that force was too extreme. The other side says that the defiant student should have followed the police officer’s request and that the force used was justified.

I was asked what I would have done in this situation, which I share with you. It is a third option. I would have used authority without coercion. First, the power struggle should have been avoided. When adults argue with a young person, it is like arguing with a pig. Both get dirty, but the pig likes it.

Adults should realize that coercion does not work with too many of today’s young people. In addition, every time an adult does something to or for a young person, that person is deprived of an opportunity to become more responsible.

With these thoughts in mind, here is what I would have done. Since the teacher was still in the room, I would have approached her and asked her to continue teaching and have the students single-task by giving the lesson their full attention.

I would then have approached the defiant student, kneeling to her at eye level so as not to be in a dominating pose. I would have smiled as I asked her if she would mind if I talked with her for a little while. I then would have asked her what she would suggest to resolve the situation and asked her to whisper her answer to me. I would then have waited. (In a negotiation, the first person who talks loses.) If she were to give an answer that would not be acceptable, I would continue to ask, “What else?” “What else?” “What else?” until a response would be elicited that was satisfactory to both her and me. I might have shared a thought or too, but I would have made sure to elicit a response. Simply stated, people do not argue with their own decisions.

I find it almost pathetic that in this 21st century where society has changed so much that leaders of young people are still using coercive, outdated approaches. I believe a prime reason is that these adults have never learned to use authority without coercion.


Dr. Samuel Johnson was one of the mot brilliant writers of the English language. He was a poet, essayist, biographer, editor, and even a lexicographer. Everything was a moral contest for Johnson, a chance to improve. His conversation, even when uproarious, was meant for self-improvement. When he was an older man, he recalled an episode in his youth. His father had asked him to man the family bookstall in the market square of the town where they lived. Johnson, feeling superior to his father, had refused. Now elderly, feeling of the lingering shame, he made a special trip to the market square of the town and stood on the spot where his father’s stall had stood.

He later recalled: Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it was painful. A few years ago I desired to atone for this fault. I went to the town in very bad weather and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain. In contrition I stood, and I hope that the penance was expiatory.
(From David Brook’s digital version of “The Road to Character” page 1186)

It should be a lesson to all of us why pride is listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins:

Here is a list of all seven:
Pride = excessive view of one’s self without regard to others
Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink
Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires
Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents
Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person


Visualization is so important that I have written widely on its effectiveness. With this in mind, I enjoyed reading about one of the USA’s presidential candidates:

Through the campaign Ben Carson has seldom appeared flustered. He says his trick is simple: when under fire, he pictures his critic as ‘a cute little baby.’
(Time magazine October 12, 2015, page 43)


Before you think of gossiping about someone, here are three reflective questions to ask yourself—if you would like to have people be comfortable with you, admire you, and trust you:

—Is it true?
—Is it fair?
—Is it necessary?


Just taking in information is not learning. Retention requires review, reflection, and (with a skill) practice.

Outside of schooling, the importance of teamwork is absolute because people work collaboratively.

It is ironic that in schools the emphasis is on performance of the individual and includes activities such as ranking. In a sense, in order to win, someone has to lose; such is the nature of competition. We are taught to compete from our earliest days, and we believe that we must compete to succeed. We are told that competition is part of human nature, that it brings out the best in us, that it’s for fun (for the winners ) and builds character (for the losers). There is no doubt that competition improves performance. I play a type of Great Highland Bagpipe music referred to as Pibroch (English spelling) that only about eight percent of pipers play. There is no doubt that I would not have put hours (my wife says,“years”) into this type of music if it not been for competition. (It was nice to win a few medals.) But the topic here is about promoting LEARNING.

In life outside of schooling, working with others is what really matters, especially when it comes to productivity. I am still optimistic that educators will one day realize that although COMPETITION IMPROVES PERFORMANCE, when it comes to LEARNING, COLLABORATION is significantly more effective.

I share a recent letter I received:

Dear Dr. Marshall,

I worked with an international organization in support of abused, homeless and runaway kids (13 – 19 years of age) for two years and learned the hard way (long before I read your book) that teens with nothing better to do will work to find ways to get around any rule, written or spoken.

To see how this works for both parents and teachers, scroll down to see the short video.


I periodically receive emails from teachers informing me that their school is implementing PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). This program gives rewards for expected behaviors—which these teachers do not believe is a good practice. The teachers have been using Discipline Without Stress (http://marvinmarshall.com/the-raise-responsibility-system/) and are wary of PBIS that focuses on external motivation—especially since the teachers have been so successful with their current system that uses internal motivation to have students want to behave responsibly and put forth effort in their learning. Sophisticated teachers understand that external manipulators change motivation. Once a reward is given to do what is expected, one never knows if the motivation for a future action will be to do the right thing or to get a reward.

PBIS was established by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education. It was developed as an alternative to aversive interventions that were used with students with severe disabilities who engaged in extreme forms of self-injury and aggression. Educational “leaders” projected that if this external approach works on students with special needs then it should also work with all students. Then, as is often the case in top-down educational practices, the approach was mandated in many communities and states.

PBIS is based in B.F. Skinner’s positive reinforcement approach, commonly referred to as “behaviorism.” (Skinner worked on rodents and other species and projected that the same “reinforcement” approach would work on humans. Neuroscientists never use his approach because it completely rejects any kind of internal motivation.)

So what should a teacher do if PBIS is mandated? The first step would be to ask for a waiver from the administration. The case would be presented by asking whether the school’s administration would be willing to allow the teacher to use her/his professional judgment to continue using their non-manipulate and noncoercive approach that they find very successful (referring to DWS)..

In all of my studies of PBIS, I have not seen anything that mandates the teacher to do the rewarding. Have a class meeting. Put the problem on the table and let the students determine the criteria to be used for any reward. Then have the students choose on a rotating basis which students will do the rewarding. Students will soon discover that rewarding for appropriate behavior is unfair because no one can reward all students who deserve the reward. In addition, rather than collaborating for learning, students start competing with each other for the most rewards.

Then have another class meeting and suggest that those who are mature enough not to be given rewards for doing the right thing are now using ADULT VALUES. Inform those who feel they are not mature enough to act responsibly without a reward that their desires will be honored. Peer influence will take over. PBIS will soon lose its attractiveness—as it has for schools that has been using the program for any length of time.

Keep in mind a few thoughts: (1) Experience shows that rewards punish those who believe they have deserved the reward but did not receive one. (2) Rewards change motivation. (3) Rewarding young people for appropriate behavior fosters narcissism by having youth ask (without even realizing it), “If I do what you want me to do, what will you give me?”

PBIS is based on a misguided approach of external agents to promote those characteristics necessary for a democratic society. How effective is the PBIS approach of using an outside agent to foster responsible behavior when no one else is around to give a reward?


 A few comments from my presentation to a full house of over 150 attendees in my session at the California Association of School Counselors conference on October 10, 2015,

• This was amazing! What a powerful seminar! I have so much to take back to my school.
• Funny, cool presenter – He made the presentation fun and interesting.
• Great ideas, suggestions, and resources. Great speaker!
• Powerful and simple. I want more!
• Awesome! Thank you for your ideas when working with a disrupting student.
• I really enjoyed this workshop. Very knowledgable! Great stuff!