Marshall, Adler/Dreikers, and Glasser/Ellis

Discipline without Stress focuses on motivation and procedures. This is in contrast to approaches that focus on finding the root cause of a problem or determining needs.

Older programs emphasized that, in order to solve discipline problems, either the cause of the behavior needed to be known and/or the person’s “needs” had to be met.

Alfred Adler and his disciple, Rudolf Dreikurs, were leaders in the school that understanding cause is essential for solution. Related to this was their belief that misbehavior is the result of not having needs met.

William Glasser’s Reality Therapy and Choice Theory do not rely on the past “causes” but believe that “meeting needs” is essential. Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy labels “needs” as really “wants.”

My approach to changing behavior focuses neither on cause nor on needs/wants.

Regarding cause, I believe that finding the cause of a problem, although of interest, has little to do with changing behavior. Causation focuses on the past. When you focus on the past, you are revisiting memories. The more you stay in the past, the more you avoid facing the present. The past cannot be changed. It is useless to water last year’s crops.

In order for a change to be successfully implemented, new behavior needs to be visualized and practiced which, in turn, makes new neural connections in the brain. The more the new behavior is implemented, the more the new behavior becomes the “default” and the more comfortable and easy it becomes. Determining cause has little to do with making new neural connections for new behaviors.

I also believe that any articulation of a person’s needs or wants is an assumption and not essential to finding a solution. It is motivation that plays a critical part in changing behavior. Although motivation is part cognitive and part emotional, it is the emotion—the desire—that prompts behavior. Since this emotion may not always be rational, having a procedure to redirect behavior is essential for success.

Discipline without Stress focuses on the difference between external and internal motivation and the practice of procedures to implement a change in behavior.