Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – September 2014

—Volume 14 Number 9


  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  



At this back-to-school time of year, I share a phrase that I imagine many students think: “Don’t blow out my candle.”

It is important to realize that we live our lives on all levels of the Hierarchy of Social Development.

Rich Lowry, in his book “Lincoln Unbound” (2013), states that some people convinced Lincoln to run for the Illinois state legislature in 1832. He was just 23 at the time. This was certainly external motivation. I had similar experiences when a colleague suggested I become a high school principal. (I already had served as a high school assistant principal of supervision and control as well as an assistant principal of curriculum and instruction). I again had a similar experience years later when a college professor urged me to earn a doctorate.

We are certainly influenced by external factors. However, a main point in teaching the levels of social and personal development to young people is that SATISFACTION IS GREATER FROM INTERNAL MOTIVATION. Something external may prompt the idea, but the most satisfaction comes as a result of the effort invested toward achieving the goal.

I received the following e-mail last week:

“I am writing to you as a student from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A few of my classmates and I are working on a presentation about your theory of internal motivation.

“Your website has provided us with a lot of helpful information, but we would love some personal advice to be able to share. We were wondering if you would share a quote about fostering internal motivation with first year teachers being the intended audience.”


Having young people learn the difference between “external” motivation (behavior to receive or avoid something) and “internal” motivation (doing something because it is the right thing to do)—as described in the Hierarchy of Social Development—leads to more responsible behavior, more self-satisfaction, higher self-esteem, never having a victimhood mindset, easily confronting bullying, and strength in resisting negative peer influences.

P.S. Enjoy the profession that offers the greatest potential for self-satisfaction and influencing others.

I received the following e-mail this week:

Hi Dr. Marshall,

This is xxxx again! Well I read almost your whole book and I have been implementing it in my classroom and so far, wow…what a difference. Just curious…how much are your sessions? I feel like a little coaching would do me good and I want to really perfect this model over the years and hopefully impress my principal finally and make my job easier of course so I can teach! I’m impressed with myself and the outcome so far. It is discipline Without stress finally!!!! I just want to get really good at this model and promote responsibility in my classroom! You totally made me realize what teaching can actually be like! Thank goodness a friend requested your book. I can teach for once. Let me know your cost!


My consulting fees  depend upon the needs and wants of the individual or group. To assess these, we hold a short video conference–no cost involved. We first agree on a date and time, and I then send you a link through e-mail. The system I use requires no downloading on your part; you just click on the link for the short conference.

I assume you are as busy as I am and by having a short video conference we can assess if the chemistry is right and see if I can help improve the situatuion in question.


Plato’s “Phaedrus” paints a picture of a charioteer who needs to control a set of horses, one wanting to go to the left while the other pulls to the right. The metaphor addresses the eternal battle between impulse and restraint, desire and self-control, gratification and delay.

The lesson is one of continual choice. In essence, it is not the urge or the intense feeling that determines character and success in life, it is how you choose to control or redirect them.


There are times when the issue of noise levels in schools should be addressed—especially at the beginning of the school year when procedures are introduced and practiced.

A teacher told me that she has been working on teaching procedures for appropriate noise levels. She believed her young students did not really know how to control their voices very well and needed specific instructions.

She continued to share with me:

“I have been telling my students that when they are sitting at their table group they should have ‘Table Group voices.’ That means only their table group needs to and should hear their voice. If someone at the next table hears them or if I hear them, then it’s too loud.

“They were doing an activity in pairs, and I explained that their partner was the only one who needed to hear their voice. We talked about sitting close to their partner and making sure that he/she was the only one to hear. I think if we make a general statement of telling them to talk quietly, that it just isn’t enough to get them to understand how or why to do so. Of course this needs to be connected to the Hierarchy of Social Development with a conversation about what would someone on level A, B, C, or D look like and sound like.

“Akin to Dr. Marshall’s alphabetical levels of development, I use a numerical level for noise.

• Level zero – Silence.

• Level 1 – Partner voice; only the person you are talking to should hear you.

• Level 2 – Group voice; the voice you use when talking with  a small group.

• Level 3 – Teaching voice; the voice you use when speaking  to a large group; this is the voice I use when teaching.

• Level 4 – Playground voice; this is the voice you use when you are playing games or shouting to your friends at recess.

• Level 5 – SCREAMING; this voice is what you use when you are hurt or in danger. The only time you might use this voice when you are not in danger is when you are cheering for a sports team

I tell students before we start every activity what noise level I expect.”

As I continually suggest, if anything bothers you, TEACH A PROCEDURE. Just showing can never be as successful as teaching a procedure, as in this example.


The quickest and best way to change someone else is to change something about yourself.

If you are convinced that another person is wrong, there is always the chance it could just be a case of “mistaken certainty.” Or, perhaps, the two of you just have significantly different belief systems. Or, perhaps, it could be the case that “I know you believe you think you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

We’ve all witnessed what we considered was an inappropriate action on the part of others and asked ourselves, “Why did they do that?” “What is wrong with them?” One possible answer is that they thought that their action was totally appropriate. Another possible answer is that you may be the one who does not understand.

Communicating to understand, rather than to judge, may be the most effect approach for improving relationships.


Here are some key factors to keep in mind for getting the brain’s attention to promote learning:

CONTRAST – Use anything that is a change or different from the usual

NOVELTY  – Curiosity, suspense, awe, confusion, surprise

PLEASURE – Anticipation, fun, satisfaction, usefulness. .

AVOID HARM – Anxiety, worry, fear, embarrassment.


I received the following from a parent in a school where I had presented many years ago. My responses are intermingled with her e-mail.

“I hope you are well.”

RESPONSE: Thank you, I am–and still spreading the word around the world. I recently came back from presenting in Switzerland and it looks like my education book will be translated into the Swiss language. The book is already available in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish.

“As you know, I am a huge fan of your system.”

RESPONSE: Thank you.

“The past several weeks I have been watching my son practice with his high school football team and am amazed at the interaction of coaches with the boys. Sitting and listening got me to thinking that your program could easily be applied to a football program.”

RESPONSE: No doubt about it! Yes it can be.

“These coaches yell, punish and isolate players and it is not necessary.”

RESPONSE: A PUNISHMENT CULTURE is prevalent in many schools and homes–as I recently posted on my home page above the video about not relying on rules.

“I have witnessed my son slowly lose motivation as the season is only kicking off. When I finally got him to talk with me he shared that he felt as if the head coach didn’t like him anymore and that my son was not comfortable approaching him on it to find out if it was true. Long story short, it is not true.”

RESPONSE: There are basically two approaches to coaching, which come to mind from my experiences years ago as a high school athletic director. One is that of berating athletes in an attempt to spur them on (which works with some kids) and the other approach is to empower (which works with all kids). Your son’s coach is using the former.

“What was happening was that the messages being sent were not being received in a way that was motivating but actually were turning my son off. They only made him feel bad about himself. I used my reflective questioning techniques with him to get him to understand why he plays. He realized that it is his love of the sport and friends that motivated him in the past. It is important to please the coach but not the only reason to play.

“I would love to hear your thoughts on applying your system to team sports. Thanks.”

RESPONSE: The first thought that came to my mind was to meet with the coach, share what is happening to your son, and then share a few reflective questions. They are in the Resource Guide that you have and are on pages 54 – 58.

Share with your son the opening paragraph of the education book because it will introduce him to the important concept of self-talk, that your son has the power to understand the coach’s approach, and that the coach means well and thinks he is doing the right thing. However, YOUR SON HAS THE POWER TO REACT AND REJECT NEGATIVITY.

Many young people will take abuse from adults who are corrosive to them because they feel or believe that what the adult is doing is basically in the young person’s best interest and they want to preseerve the relationship. However, your son’s association with the coach is not mandatory. If your son is not able to turn the negativity into a learning experience, then he ALWAYS has other options.

Upon reflection, however, the first approach should be for your son to exercise motivation at Level D by taking the initiative to share his feelings with the coach. Have your son remember that with the risk comes the reward.


The charity I have founded allows any U.S. school to receive my education book along with the Resource Guide and other materials and services at no cost.

The only requirement is to share the Phi Delta Kappan cover article with the entire staff so that even those teachers who do not want to use DWS will understand the approach of teachers who do use the system.

One of the questions on the application for free books and materials follow:

5. In order for the nonprofit public charitable organization to continue, foundation and corporate grants are needed. Research-proven, evidenced based instructional strategies are a requirement for grants. How will you record your success so the nonprofit can use your evidence of success for future funding?


“Track student behavior in each student’s agenda. Each period all week a student gets a stamp for behaving well in that class that day.”

My RESPONSE: The only way that this could work is if the STUDENTS do the rewarding. They would soon realize how unfair such rewarding is because if a student does what is wanted and does not receive a reward, the student is “punished by rewards.” IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE FAIR AND CONSISTENT WHEN REWARDING STUDENTS FOR EXPECTED BEHAVIORS.

DWS does not believe in bribing young people to do the right thing. Once you give people rewards for doing what you want, you will never know if they are doing it because it is the right thing to do (Level D) or to get the reward (Level C).

The application continued: “At the end of the week the homeroom teach counts and records each student’s behavior progress.”

MY RESPONSE: I don’t see how you can do this. Besides it is busy work. One aspect of the DWS approach is to eliminate unnecessary paperwork for the teacher.

The application continued: “This calculation is given to the student and parents with each progress report and report card. Improvement will result in a field trip at the end of the year.”

MY RESPONSE: I don’t see how you can do this with the DWS mindset of EXPECTING RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR. ACKNOWLEDGING a class achievement AFTER the behavior is different from bribing them with an incentive BEFORE the behavior.

Bribing for expected behavior with incentives will work ONLY if the person is interested in the reward. For example, not all students are interested in being rewarded with high academic grades. Some are; some are not.

A more important point, however, is that once you start rewarding people to do what you want, the motivation has changed. Will future motivation be on Level C (to receive the reward) or on Level D (being responsible simply because it is the right thing to do)?

The Hierarchy of Social Development has students continually evaluate their motivation. This self-reflection on the level they are choosing is what prompts people to be self-actuated (Abraham Maslow’s term)—something behaviorism and programs such as PBIS can never achieve.

Since you want the students to change, have them do the work, rather than the teacher. A simple approach is to develop a self-assessment questionnaire that students complete on a weekly basis.

My philosophy is that every time you do something to or for students that they can do themselves, you are DEPRIVING THEM OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME MORE RESPONSIBLE.

In addition, what is the purpose of keeping behavior records for minor “infractions”? If you reflect, at its core is a punishment culture. DWS changes the mindset of this negative type of teaching.

NOTE: I then had a phone conversation with the teacher who initiated the request and shared with her a few additional ideas about how to have the students ASSESS THEIR OWN PROGRESS. The teacher agreed that placing assessment with the students would be more effective than having the teachers do it.

The school is now receiving the free materials.


The following is from a testimonial:

I explained the hierarchy to my own children by drawing faces to go with the levels:

‘A’ had a crying face and an angry face because one person is forcing behavior onto another.

‘B’ had a sad face and a mean face. The first represented the victim and the second represented bossing/bullying.

‘C’ had two faces each with straight lines indicating a lack of emotion.

‘D’ had 2 happy faces. The first for the youngster’s satisfaction of doing the right thing, and the second for the adult who was pleased to see responsible behavior.

The younger of my boys is a very angry 5-year old, and he has responded very well to the pictures. We keep it on the fridge, and I refer him to it when he needs to make a better behavioral decision.

NOTE: Additional visuals are shared here.

Landmark  EDUCATION book:

Landmark EDUCATION book: “When I’m stuck, I like to review Discipline without Stress. They say that a classic is something you can refer to over and over and still get something new out of it each time. Well, that definition fits here. The more I look back through it, the more it helps me to see things in a different light.”
–Anna Nyman Daley, Bluffdale, Utah

Award-winning PARENTING book:

“This is a goldmine of a book with solid, practical nuggets on every page. Each one is profoundly life enhancing. Implementing the approaches will make you not only a much better parent, but also a much better person.”
–Jodi Kofsky, Dover Heights, New South Wales, Australia