When I presented seminars last week in Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Billings, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Portland, Oregon, many teachers told me that they were mandated to implement Positive Intervention Behavior and Supports (PBIS).

The question then is, “How can you use Discipline without Stress while at the same time implementing PBIS?”

The answer is as follows. First, there is nothing in PBIS that mandates the teacher must give the rewards. Have the students perform the task of handing out rewards. When the task is delegated to students, they soon realize how unfair it is to reward some students who do what the teacher desires but not reward others who behave the same way. It is impossible to find every student who deserves to be rewarded.

I learned this years ago when my brother consulted with me. He told me that his daughter (my niece) had done everything the teacher required but did not get a reward when others did. Alfie Kohn wrote a tome on this subject entitled, “Punished by Rewards.”

Second, once the students are put in charge and other students start to complain, simply ask the class if they want to continue the practice.  Ask if they are mature enough to realize that doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do is enough satisfaction (Level D on the Hierarchy of Social Development) or if they still need to be externally motivated (Level C of the Hierarchy of Social Development).

Empowering students by giving them the choice prompts them to reflect on whether they need some external manipulation for doing what is expected.

Notice how the three practices of Discipline without Stress are employed: (1) You are positive, (2) You have given the students a choice, and (3) You have prompted them to reflect. In addition, you will have taught them the difference between external and internal motivation. Understanding and being able to articulate the difference helps young people resist negative peer influence.