Without Stress Newsletter – July 2016

Volume 16 Number 7 July 2016
Newsletter #180 Archived


  1. Welcome
  2. Reducing Stress
  3. Promoting Responsibility
  4. Increasing Effectiveness
  5. Improving Relationships
  6. Promoting Learning
  7. Parenting Without Stress
  8. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  9. What People Are Saying


Success in life is not in knowing the right answer; it’s in knowing how to ask the right question.
—Harry Wong


Recently published Without Stress Tips:

20 How to Avoiding Saying “NO”
21 How to Handle a Monkey
22 Sitting Is the New Smoking
23 Your Subconscious and Expectations


My books “Discipline [and Teaching] Without Stress” and “Parenting Without Stress” will be joined this year by my newest book, “Live Without Stress.” So, I have changed my prime website to WithoutStress.com.

MarvinMarshall.com will be devoted to keynote presentations, seminars, workshops, and training. WithoutStress.com will be devoted to sharing information and products.


The updated eLearning program, DISCIPLINE ONLINE, is offering a summer discount for this month of July. The coupon code is “SUMMER16” for the subscribers to this newsletter. DisciplineOnline.com


On Thursday of this week, I expanded my Twitter accounts:

twitter.com/teachwostresss (Teaching Without Stress)
twitter.com/parentwostress (Parenting Without Stress)
twitter.com/MarvMarshall (The one I have been using)



Disagreement between people causes stress; there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes the disagreement escalates to the point of verbal fighting. Once that occurs, the stress levels of both parties will be high, and agreement will be elusive. Fortunately, you always have a choice in how you handle a situation.

Rather than letting a disagreement get out of hand, you can reduce stress by doing the following: Say to the other person, “I don’t want to win; I just want to understand what you are saying. My objective is to CLARIFY, NOT INFLUENCE. You’re saying that you believe A, B, and C. I believe A, B, and D. So we really agree more than we differ.”

At the worst you have clarified. At the best you have minimized the disagreement and reduced stress for both parties. In any event, it’s good to know where you agree and where you differ.

The key to is to state at the outset that your goal is not to win the argument; it’s to clarify. Clarity leads to reducing stress.


Chances are that you own a product produced by a Japanese company. Before WWII, Japanese products were referred to as cheap, junk, and other negative terms. Bur today you own a Japanese product because of its quality. The person who changed this was W.Edwards Deming, an American who was put in charge of reconstructing Japanese manufacturing after that war. (The most prestigious Japanese award today is the Deming Prize. You can read about Deming’s approach at the  Phi Delta Kappan cover article.)

Dr. Deming described 14 Points for improving quality. He was firmly committed to cooperation and collaboration, by which he meant abolishing competition between workers. Unfortunately, many educators are still using competition between students in classrooms—as illustrated by my recent experience, related below.

I was in Las Vegas last week speaking at a conference on discipline. One of the exhibits was selling “PBIS Rewards.” The company developed a tracking system to give rewards to students who behave as the teachers desire. The system is transparent, so both the teacher and students view who receive rewards (and how many) and who do not.

Obviously, the system has students competing for rewards—rather than collaborating for learning. The system gives those trinkets, stickers, or points that children want—rather than values that promote character development for responsible living. The system requires that teachers only assign points; the students cannot be involved, which of course, puts an extra burden on the teacher by rewarding, tracking, and record keeping.

In a conversation with one of the vendors of PBIS Rewards, the vendor insisted that there is no difference between what the system does and the reason that people work. I inquired if, when she gets her paycheck, her self-talk sounds like, “Thank you employer for rewarding me for my work.” There was no understanding that employment is a social contract: You give services and receive compensation. Employers do not bribe employees to work.

The program uses an outdated Skinnerian approach that only recognizes behavior and completely disregards motivation. In addition, rewarding young people for doing what they should be doing requires an outside person to dispense the rewards; yet, we want our children to grow up to be independent, responsible adults. This requires autonomy—rather than relying on others.

I am still disappointed that so many educators continue to use a program that is counterproductive to promoting character development for responsible citizenship. Society does not reward people for expected standards of behavior. Have you ever been given a reward for stopping at a red light? PBIS promotes thinking that you should be.


Sitting is the new smoking! In alignment with this new awareness, if you spend much time at a computer compressing your body, plan to build regular movement into your routine. For example, set your computer clock to remind you of the time every 15 minutes. This will prompt you to stand and stretch. Here is a simple exercise to counter a collapsing body. Stand, stretch your arms out shoulder high behind you, have your head back on top of your body, and breath slowly six (6) times. You will feel your sternum extend and your body becoming more efficient for proper breathing. This is a simple variation of the Alexander Technique for posture improvement and for eliminating harmful body tension.


Do you like it when someone uses coercion or in order to get you to do something?

Of course not. So why, then, do so many adults use coercion with young people?

The essence of the famed psychologist Jean Piaget’s hierarchy of cognitive development is that children’s brains develop at different ages but they—even infants—have similar feelings as older humans. All people experience negative feelings of pain, anger, and fear—all of which prompt resentment toward the person who prompted such feelings.

Sharing information and asking reflective questions do not carry the baggage of prompting negative emotions and resentments.

Want to improve relationships? Avoid coercion! You can use authority without coercion. My teaching and parenting books show the how: Piper Press


Imagined practice may activate the same neural circuits as real experience—hence, the term “mental rehearsal.”

To help you perform better, try imagining your tennis serve, or mentally running through an upcoming speech, or reviewing a lesson. Mental imagery activates some of the same neural pathways involved in the actual experience, and many studies lend support to this theory.


When you have witnessed a young person making a foolish behavioral error, rather than admonish that person with, “You should have. . . . ,” instead ask, “What did you learn from this?”

You will find asking this noncoercive, reflective question is the most effective approach for handling and preventing future similar behaviors.


I was asked, “How can you minimize unpredictable negative behaviors that affect your classroom?

My response:

The only practical way to minimize unpredictable negative behaviors is to be proactive, rather than resorting to the usual reactive approach of responding after the inappropriate behavior took place.

It seems rather obvious that teachers should teach expectations. They try by teaching rules. The problem is that rules are aimed at obedience, but obedience does not create desire. Teachers who rely on rules place themselves in the role of a cop to enforce the rules rather than as a facilitator of learning.

Rules are necessary in games but are counterproductive in the classroom because enforcement of a rule immediately creates adversarial relationships. A much more effective approach is for teachers to list responsibilities, keeping them few and positive. These become true expectations, a key characteristic of all successful teachers.

Another crucial approach is to understand the differences between classroom management and discipline. Classroom management is about teaching procedures, practicing them, and reinforcing them until they become routine. The biggest mistake so many teachers make is to assume that students know what the teacher would like students to do without first establishing procedures. Teaching procedures until they become routines is the key to making instruction efficient and is the teacher’s responsibility. This is the essence of classroom management. In contrast, discipline is about the student’s behavior, self-discipline, and impulse control and is the student’s responsibility.

The most successful approach to minimize unpredictable negative behaviors is to let students know your procedure for dealing with them. Bring to your students’ attention the fact that we are all constantly making decisions. If a student chooses to act irresponsibly, then the STUDENT will decide on the consequence—pending approval of the teacher. In simple terms, the procedure is to elicit, rather than to impose. The student created the problem, so the student owns the solution. A prime reason that this approach is so successful is that people do not argue with their own decisions.


I have taught for 29 years, mostly in first grade. This year I learned of the Raise Responsibility System. I bought the book and began to implement the system in my classroom. I have taught the children the levels of development and we have role-played how the levels would look and sound in various school settings. We are in our 5th week of school. On Tuesday morning, we were to be given one-on-one testing for beginning reading skills in the media center. When we got there they were running behind so I had to turn the class around and return to our room. Needless to say, it was a situation that quickly slid into anarchy when they got back to our room and headed to the front to finish our morning meeting. They began to fuss over someone sitting in their spot, not having enough room, etc. One of my more challenging students looked at me and said in a loud voice (to be heard over the others), “This is level A, isn’t it?!” I merely nodded but he had been heard by many of the children and what happened next was simply amazing. ALL the children found a seat on the circle without any further upset, sat with their hands in their laps, lips together and eyes on the teacher. I was blown away. This system is certainly a stress reducer for me! Thank you, Dr. Marshall!
—Melissa Mathews, First Grade Teacher
Orlando, Florida





Copyright © 2016 Marvin Marshall

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