Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2012

Volume 12 Number 12


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials



In all my experiences, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.
–Stephen R. Covey


“Thanksgiving” was celebrated last month in the United States. With this in mind, read how a simple incident at the family affair relates to learning, motivation, and relationships.

“You are at your mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and what a sumptuous spread she has put on the table for you. The turkey is roasted to a golden brown; the stuffing is homemade and exactly the way you like it. Your kids are delighted. The sweet potatoes are crowned with marshmallows, and your wife is flattered. Your favorite recipe for pumpkin pie has been chosen for dessert.

“The festivities continue into the late afternoon. You loosen your belt and sip a glass of wine. Gazing fondly across the table at your mother-in-law, you rise to your feet and pull out your wallet. ‘Mom, for all the love you’ve put into this, how much do I owe you?’ you say sincerely.  As silence descends on the gathering, you wave a handful of bills. ‘Do you think three hundred dollars will do it? No, wait, I should give you four hundred!’

“This is not a picture that Norman Rockwell would have painted. A glass of wine falls over; your mother-in-law stands up red-faced; your sister-in-law shoots you an angry
look; your niece bursts into tears. Next year’s Thanksgiving celebration, it seems, may be a frozen dinner in front of the television set.”

–from IRRATIONAL PREDICTABLY by Dan Ariely (pp. 75-76)

This episode is an example of a “social norm” (INTRINSIC motivation) colliding with a “market norm” (EXTRINSIC motivation). The point seems obvious. We are happy to do
things when motivated, but not when we are paid to do them WHEN WE ARE ALREADY MOTIVATED.

The author continues:

“My feeling so far is that standardized testing and performance-based salaries are likely to push education from social norms to market norms. The United States already
spends more money per student than any other Western society. Would it be wise to add more money? The same consideration applies to testing: we are already testing very frequently, and more testing is unlikely to improve the quality of education.” (page 93)

“In the same way market norms may undermine social norms, it may be that market norms also erode the pride and meaning people get from the workplace (for example, when we pay teachers according to their student’s performance on standardized tests).” (p. 99)


Finland’s education system–repeatedly ranked one of the best in the word–has taken a totally different approach than many western countries. Their system is described in a series of blogs.


Every link MarvinMarshall.com  has been simplified to make all the information easier to find, use, and share. 


You have a responsibility to yourself to participate in those activities that bring you satisfaction leading to your own happiness.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Some authors on the subject of happiness even go so far as asserting that people have a moral obligation to be happy. The reason is rather obvious. Happy people do far more good than unhappy people. When you are happy, you have a positive effect on people. When you are unhappy, you also influence–but in a negative way.

Reflect on what life has given you. You will soon start to be grateful–and gratefulness is the greatest key to happiness.

Do not confuse fun and enjoyment with happiness. The thrills of winning in Las Vegas, an intense joy of a personal encounter, or having a peak of ecstasy are wonderful moments. But happiness comes from being content most of the time. This occurs when you have thoughts and feelings of well-being and an inner sense of balance and purpose.

Happiness also hides in life’s little things. If you’re not looking, you will not see them. As a youth growing up in Hollywood, California, I would hear Al Jarvis, a disk jockey on radio station KFWB, often say, “It+s the little things in life that mean the most to all of us.” How true! I was lucky having heard and learned this wisdom at a young age.

Good news such as getting a promotion or winning a lottery prompts happiness for a while. Then we adapt. Bad news such as ending a relationship or losing a job brings sadness for a while. Then we adapt.

Adaptation explains why people can be happy after physically disabling accidents and tragedies.

Adaptation starts with an aim to be happy. This sounds obvious, but often we don+t make happiness a priority. Here is a simple procedure for you and your children. Write the words, “I intend to be happy today,” on a piece of paper and stick it on the bathroom mirror. When you look at it in the morning, stop and reflect. Ask yourself, “What can I do today that will bring me satisfaction?” Vary your answers for a week.

Abraham Lincoln was accurate when he said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Take responsibility for your happiness. When you do, notice how your relationships and effectiveness improve.


Coercion isn’t always recognizable.

My wife was viewing the first ten minutes of a movie on TV and was so enthralled with it that she pressed the “record” button and then stopped viewing the program. She announced that she looked forward to sharing the movie with me and told me that she was saving it until such time as we could watch it together.

When that time came around, her enthusiasm pitched even higher. However, as she turned on the recording and the synopsis of the movie was shown, I found that I had no interested in the movie. My wife was so surprised and disappointed that she reiterated her desire to share and the fact that she had saved the viewing for both of us. She strongly assured me, even insisted, that I would enjoy the movie based on the first ten minutes she saw of it. I protested that I did not want to take my time to watch that particular movie. The plot did not interest me. Silence! I went my way; she went her way.

Later, we came together for clarity, which is our usual approach. (I have found that aiming for clarity is much more advantageous than attempting to convince.) She felt justified in her position. I asked, “Isn’t this being  coercive–insisting that I view a film in which I have no interest?

The moment she heard the word, “coercive,” I saw the surprise on her face. I had uttered the big -C+ word. She said, “I+m sorry. I didn+t realize I was being coercive. I didn+t recognize it as such, but now I do. You are right.”

Even sharing, if not done with consideration, can also be coercive. But notice the approach: Asking a reflective question led to clarification.


A communication from a reader:

I have found, both as a parent and a teacher–and I have mostly ODD students currently and a young adult daughter who doesn’t like being told the truth–that telling them to do something (anything) is rarely effective, whether it is advice or directions.

I use a simple statement, “I am just giving you information.” I sometimes repeat it afterwards if there is an attempt to argue or protest. However, it really is not possible to argue against or defy this statement. There is literally nothing to push against and it always stops protests, backtalk or arguments.

Alexander N. Brittain
Mendocino, CA


This natural human tendency to react against coercion is referred to as counterwill. It can be seen in infants (referred to as the “terrible two”), with teenagers who are asserting their independence, and really with anyone as illustrated in the previous section between my wife and myself.


Here is an effective and simple way to enhance reading skills. Teach three simple phrases: (1) RIGHT THERE, (2) AUTHOR AND ME, and (3) ON MY OWN.

(1) RIGHT THERE means that the information you are looking for is easy to find in the reading.

(2) AUTHOR AND ME means that it is necessary to read the text because the information is not readily available.  

(3) ON MY OWN means that, based upon clues and evidence in the text, you come to a conclusion (inference).

Explain the categories, read a passage to model them, and then have students respond to a few examples. Then use various participatory activities so students routinely use the categories to enhance their reading skills.


Sometimes it is worthy repeating an old story at this season.

A king had a son who had gone astray from his father.
The son was told to retun to his father.
The son stated that he would not.

The father sent a messenger to say to his son: “Return as far as you can, and I will come to you the rest of the way.”


A few visuals have been added to assist understanding of the HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.

The often times amazing effects of referring to the levels (D and C of MOTIVATION and B and A of BEHAVIOR) is the natural desire to move up the ladder to a higher level. Teachers and parents who use the hierarchy witness the growth of young people.



This summer, I read the book and SOAKED it in as if it was manna from heaven. It WAS! I put it into action with 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders. I read the Rainbow School stories to the little ones. With the 5th graders, we just talked about the levels and then brainstormed examples. Level A is physical, dangerous, wild behavior. Level B is mental hurtfulness or annoying behavior. Level C is complying. Level D is internal, doing good for good’s sake. THEY GET IT. WHY did I not read your book sooner!

Linda Woods
Houston, Texas


The PARENTING book: 

I have been struggling with my nine-year-old son. He has been consciously making bad decisions. After reading your book, my frame of mind immediately changed to “How can I change my approach?”

The wealth of information and how to apply it are overwhelmingly enlightening.+

Kehaulani Ah Quin
Honolulu, Hawaii