Obedience Does Not Create Desire

When enforcing rules, imposing punishments, or doling out rewards, be aware that these approaches aim at obedience, rather than promoting responsibility—and that obedience does not create desire.

The most effective approach to have young people do what adults want them to do is to tap into their emotions. Following rules requires thinking—not feelings. Yet feelings and emotions drives the majority of our decisions.

I use the word “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules” because I am able to have young people WANT to become responsible. I do this by tapping into the good feelings a person gets from being responsible. Once young people are exposed to the Levels of Development, they want to raise themselves to the highest level—simply by the nature of wanting to reach the highest level of the hierarchy.

Realize that taking this position does not mean you are against punishments or all rewards. Rather, it means you are against stress, adversarial relationships with students, IMPOSED punishments, and rewarding young people for appropriate behavior.

Think of this way: When we give rewards for EXPECTED STANDARDS OF CONDUCT, we send the message that students will be rewarded when they leave school for doing what is expected from them. THIS IS NOT HOW THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL OPERATES. As children grow and mature, they will learn that the most satisfying reward is the feeling they get from their efforts of doing what is right, rather than from something that comes from the outside.

Additionally, IMPOSED punishments create adversarial relationships. When punishments are imposed, the person receiving the punishment has no ownership in it. If the desire is to change behavior, then ELICITING A CONSEQUENCE OR A PROCEDURE is much more effective and far more stress-reducing because you will be collaborating with the student, which prompts positive, rather than negative feelings.

Therefore, in every aspect of life, focus on responsibilities rather than rules, and elicit rather than punish or reward. These mindset changes will go a long way to keeping your life and relationships as stress-free as possible.


Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote the book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print bookas an eBook, and as an audio book at PiperPress.com.