Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – September 2005

Volume 5 Number 9 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Promoting Learning

 6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:

    How Your School Can Implement the System

    Your Questions Answered

    Free Mailring/User Group

    Impulse Management Posters and Cards



While presenting in Warren, New Jersey, I had the pleasure of meeting Vanita

Braver, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist. She recently sent me her

first two books from her planned nine book series, “Teach Your Children Well.”

Since the foundation of my approach is to foster responsibility and since I

present and keynote at many character education conferences, I was delighted

after reading these first two books from the series.

When Dr. Braver first showed me the manuscript, I sent her the following


Children who have low self-esteem are unhappy children. They are unhappy because

they think negative thoughts about themselves. An excellent approach to changing

this way of thinking is to expose them to stories that teach how doing the right

thing feels better than doing the wrong thing. Child and adolescent psychiatrist

Vanita Braver, M.D., has written a series of stories that inspire values of

character to accomplish this most challenging of tasks.

I highly recommend

“Teach Your Children Well” beginning with “Pinky Promise.”

“Pinky Promise” the first book, is a story illustrating the values of honesty.

“Party Princess,” the second book, is a story illustrating how a young girl

resolved her own conflict after getting herself into a messy situation.

Both books are designed for children from four to eight to teach values and

virtues that enhance both character development and emotional health. Part of

the proceeds for each delightfully illustrated and inexpensive book goes to the

Child Welfare League of America.

You can learn more about the books at



From an e-mail I received after presenting in Dearborn,

Michigan, last month:

Just yesterday, you taught the teachers at my school (The

Dearborn Academy) about several ways to increase

responsibility in our students. I am happy to tell you

that many teachers implemented their new skills in their

classes today. I used several myself. Two times today

students asked me what to do. I asked them what they

thought they should do. Both times they said that they

didn’t know, and both times I replied with, “Well if you

knew what to do, what would it be?”

I was happy to hear both of the students

tell me

exactly what they were supposed to do. It worked! I am

very thankful for your visit to our school. I think it

will be a great help for myself and my students.

Kristina Caldwell


I read the following inscription on the back of a blouse worn by Bette

Blance, my host in the Gold Coast, Australia, while visiting Lamington National

Park on September 4, 2005:

“The success of the endeavours depends on how well

we get on together.”

William Glasser Institute

New Zealand


From a few e-mails recently received:

Your comment reminded me of a time when my son, Adam, was two years old. Every

thing out of his mouth was No, No, No! My husband had just had it with him and

said, “Adam, don’t you say ‘No’ to me again; I’ve had enough young man.” Adam

looked at him, full of steam and said, “NOT!” I couldn’t help but start

laughing. You are right. “Not” doesn’t have the same effect as “No.” Thanks for

bringing that back to mind.

Sabrina Boehm

As a teacher, I’ve been on a journey my whole 12-year

career and I’m finding parenting is a similar type of journey.

I am reading the book right now and have already tried some things on my 3-1/2

year old daughter this weekend. I have quite a strong-willed child who has hit

the terrible 3’s. (The 2’s were so much easier for my husband and me.) I’ve

always used choices with her, which makes life simpler, but I didn’t use

contingencies–just, “If you don’t clean up then you can’t go to the park.”

Saying, “If you clean up, you can go to the park,” sounds so much better and

works much faster with her. But I have to stop and think a great deal to decide

how I’m going to phrase things.

Just now as she sat on the floor with our pit bull–he just wants to be near her

but she treats him as a sibling–he’s touching me, he’s in my way, etc. She

started having a fit about him. I just told her very nonchalantly that if you

leave him alone you can stay in your spot. (She had a bed tray with her pizza on

it watching her favorite show.) She said nothing more and even cradled his head

and has been fine ever since. Before we would have gotten on her about being

nice to him, stop pushing him away, etc.

I told her earlier when she cleaned up her toys, we could go to the park. She’s

never moved so fast. It’s amazing!

Cathy Marlow

“If I’ve told you once . . . .” Similarly, your talk

caused (MM: “prompted”) me to sit back and reflect, “Gee, now why didn’t I think

of that!” Heard that before? About a thousand times, I suppose.

Offering my 7-year old choices, rather than decrees, showed immediate positive

results! Thank you.

Doug Williams

If you have some anecdote that I can include in my

parenting book, please don’t be shy. Share an incident with me.


I thank you–and so will readers of my future parenting book.


20th century parent to child:

“Eat your food; think of all the starving people in India

and China.”

21st century parent to child:

“Do your homework–or someone in India or China may get

your job.”

6. Implementing the RAISE

How a school can conduct its own in-house staff development is described at


Details for implementation are described on the next link at


This link describes THE MARVIN MARSHALL TEACHING MODEL. Topics include

differences between classroom management and discipline, three principles to

practice, the three parts of the RRSystem, and how the RRSystem can be used to

raise academic achievement.


I am starting this system next week. I have the ABCD poster on the wall. But

what I need is a list of verbal prompts for me to post, such as “Oops, what

shall we do now?” Otherwise, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns of

telling–instead of asking–or imposing, instead of eliciting a solution.

Anybody have such a thing? I am so excited to try this–but

nervous, too.


From a post by Kerry:

One of the most challenging things about moving to the RRSystem is remembering

to use the three principles of being positive, asking (rather than telling), and

empowering by giving choices.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and I don’t think anyone will tell you that you can

be an expert when first starting. We’re all struggling to change previous

mindsets, to pause before we blurt out automatic phrases that are negative, to

get rid of those “old teacher stares,” and to be proactive instead of reactive.

It’s not easy, so just try to take the pressure off yourself by not expecting

perfection. That route leads to discouragement.

Instead, just set little goals for yourself. For instance, try for an hour to

always respond with a question instead of telling students things. Whenever

someone in your class wants to know something, or you want to tell them

something, or whenever someone asks you something, see if you can respond with a


For example, if a child says, “I found this staple on the floor, what should I

do with it?” Ask… “Oh, where would that go?” Or if someone leaves their shoes

on the floor of the cloakroom, bring the child over and ask, “Do you see

anything that you might need to do here?” Or if someone asks to go for a drink

right after recess time, ask, “Is this the time for us to get drinks? When was

the time for drinks?”

Try to build choice into the day. This gets you into the habit of using choices

so that it will come more naturally during discipline situations. Besides,

giving choices to students on a regular basis makes the day more interesting for

them. By engaging them through the power of making little decisions, they become

more interested in being in the classroom. When they are focused on doing

constructive things, misbehaviour is less of an issue. Because they are focused

on making choices instead of focused on, “I really don’t want to do this,” life

will be smoother for you. My partner, Darlene, is really a master at this. She’s

always finding ways to build some choice for the kids into every activity.

For instance, on the morning when it was time to make a cover for a bee report

that each child had made step by step in class, she put three colours of poster

board up on the chalkboard for the kids to indicate which colour they wanted.

She put a question above it asking, “Which colour do you want for your cover?”

The kids put up their graphing marker (just a name tag with a magnetic strip on

the back). At lunch she cut the covers according to their preferences and after

lunch they made the cover. By giving them that little choice in the morning,

they were already primed to be interested in the afternoon because they had some

personal investment in that cover. In the past, we would have had cut all the

covers in just one colour. You’d be surprised how giving them such a little bit

of power, focuses them on WANTING to do a project.

When we did a dragons and castles unit, she had them make dragons in a

particular art style. In order to introduce some measure of choice, she had them

each decide if they would make and then write about a dragon from the Eastern

tradition (from Asia) or from the western tradition. In the past, she would have

decided which type of dragon everyone would focus on. One day everyone would

have done an Eastern dragon and the next day everyone would do a Western dragon.

Because of the understandings we’re gaining from the RRSystem, this year she

discussed both types first and then offered choices. She mentioned to me how

much more the kids were interested in the whole assignment than in previous

years and how excited they were by their being able to choose one kind of dragon

or the other. Our reluctant writers were re-directed from their usual reluctance

toward writing. Instead of focusing on, “I can’t write” or “I don’t want to

write,” they were busy choosing which dragon they cared to write about. Building

in little choices engages students. Darlene always asks herself in EVERY SINGLE

LESSON now, “How can I give them some little choice?” It’s really kind of

amazing. It just takes a little conscious decision to think about giving choices

when planning lessons.

Saying things in a positive way IS a challenge! This requires discipline on the

teacher’s part, especially if you’re finding that you have a lot of negative

responses from the past glued in your brain! Make use of Marv’s impulse chart



Before you respond in any way… take a breath and THINK first. It isn’t easy at

first, but it does come more naturally once you force yourself to practice. For

me personally, this is the hardest of the three principles. Once again, set

yourself a small goal. Can I go for 30 minutes and respond with positivity to

everything that happens (even negative things)? Taking the pause to consider

what you’re going to say is the key!

A long time ago, I posted some questions that we have found successful with

various kids along the way during the “Checking for Understanding Phase” of the

RRSystem. I’ll repost them here for you, in case they’re useful to you:

Some reflective questions that we find work for us:

–Is this going to get you what you want?

–Is this going to move you forward or backward?

–What can I do to help you?

–Are you going to let this (situation, person, problem, setback,

disappointment etc.) hold you back?

–Are you going to be able to rise above this_______(situation,

disappointment, etc.)?

–Look at _______’s face. How is he/she feeling right now as a result of

(what you have done/said)?

–Are you making a friend or pushing a friend away?

–What would a ________ (mature, kind, reliable, responsible, extraordinary)

person do now?

–Now that you’ve __________, how can you repair the situation?

–Think, when you _____________what kind of a relationship are you creating

with ________(me? the Noon Hour Supervisor? other kids? the adults in the


–What kind of impression are you making on all the people here when you

_______? Is this the impression you want to make?

–Can you picture yourself doing_______(a very specificprocedure)?

–When you __________what pictures are you creating about yourself in the

mind of your (friends? teachers? adults in our school?)

–Is what you’re doing going to make you happy in the long run? Is there a

happier choice?

–Here’s an opportunity for you to _____________(act on a high level, try a

new challenge, be a kind friend, show some initiative etc.)

–If you continue down this path of doing what you’re doing, what will

likely happen/result?

–Does it feel as if we’re moving forward here, or does if feel as if we’re

stuck? What would you have to do if you wanted to move forward in this


–Would you be willing to try that again at a higher level?

–Would you like another opportunity to do that again at a higher level?

–Would you be kind enough to allow ________the opportunity to try that

again at a higher level?

–Is what you’re doing __________(safe? on a high level? kind? appropriate?

helpful? respectful?)

–How might you feel if someone else did that to you?

–Who do you want to be in charge of you or have someone else boss you?

–Who do you want to be your boss?

–Think to yourself of someone in our class who generally operates on a very

high level. What would that person do now in your situation?

–When a child is ready to give up too soon: If you feel you can’t do any

more right now, when can you

plan to do it?

–After someone has acknowledged Level B behaviour: Do you want me to be a

Level B teacher? What would a Level B teacher probably do now? Is this what

you would like me to do? What can you do so that I don’t have to be a Level

B teacher?

MM’s comment:

Focusing on obedience aims at physical and superficial

aspects of behavior. In contrast, the Raise Responsibility

System aims at the brain’s cognition–which, in turn,

prompts emotion and empowerment. For example, someone

compliments you and a positive feeling follows. In contrast,

when someone blames, criticizes, complains, nags, threatens,

or punishes you, a negative feeling erupts.

Empowerment has a positive effect and can create commitment

whereas obedience rarely creates commitment. It is a simple


The Raise Responsibility System actuates people to WANT to

behave appropriately and WANT to put forward effort to


You can post questions and learn more about the system at

the free user group (mailring support) at:



Learning a procedure for responding appropriately

to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at



“This should be a required course of study in every

collegiate education major curriculum.”

Al Herring, Principal

Plain Dealing Elementary School, Plain Dealing, LA