Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2012

Volume 12 Number 2


  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



The best teacher is not necessarily the one who possesses the most knowledge, but the one who most effectively enables the students to believe in their ability to learn.
–Norman Cousins


My recent interview about the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM with Dr. James Sutton, a psychologist and specialist in oppositionally defiant behavior, is currently being aired on THE CHANGING BEHAVIOR NETWORK at http://www.thechangingbehaviornetwork.com/

If you would like to be notified when future interviews are aired with other guests and experts, sign up for the CBN RADIO ALERT while on the site.


After my presentation in Atlanta, Georgia last week, I received the following e-mail: “I sent several teachers to your presentation. They have come back to school energized and enthusiastic.”

If you are at a school and would like to know about my presentations, just e-mail me at mailto:marv@marvinmarshall.com.


I will be presenting public seminars with the Bureau of Education and Research (BER) entitled, “Powerful Strategies for Reducing Classroom Behavior Problems – Discipline Strategies that Work,” as indicated below:

March 12 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
March 13 Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
March 14 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
March 15 Seattle Washington
March 16 Portland, Oregon

For information and/or attendance, contact BER:
800-735-3503 Monday – Friday 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Pacific Time Zone.


In his classic futuristic novel, “1984,” written in 1949 at the beginning of the cold war, George Orwell made the point that language shapes thinking. His book is about how the world of the future could be with “Big Brother” watching you. He explains that if there were no word for “freedom,”
the concept would be difficult to comprehend and communicate. Language not only assists communication, it also helps shape thought.

Saying, “I am angry,” communicates a state of being. In contrast, as soon as we change the language to an action verb as in, “I am angering,” we immediately become aware that we have a choice. Changing the adjective to a verb empowers you to choose your response to an emotion.

Taking conscious control of self-talk can act like a magic wand to shift to more empowering and controlling mental states. Young people can be taught such self-talk. Powerless phrases such as “made me” and “caused me” can be substituted with empowering phrases such as “prompts me” and “stimulates me.” This shift eliminates victimhood thinking.

Also, instead of thinking, “The task is too difficult,”
young people can be taught to take charge by eliminating the “too” and by changing the word “difficult” into “challenging,” as in, “The task is challenging.”

Another more subtle language pattern is the ill use of “try.” “Try” merely conveys an attempt. Self-talk should convey commitment. A person does not get out of bed by trying to get out of bed or make a phone call by trying to call. You get out of bed and you make a call. This type of self-talk is the hallmark of success. As Henry Ford so aptly put it, “If you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way you are right.”

It is no kindness to treat people as helpless, inadequate, or victims–regardless of what has happened to them.
Kindness is having faith in people and treating them in a way that encourages and empowers them to handle their challenges.

Give young children a cookie and say to them, “I will return in a few minutes and I will give you something else if you haven’t eaten the cookie until I return.” If you were to watch the young ones through an observation window, you would see some youngsters talking to themselves attempting to control their impulses. Those without language skills will be seen making all kinds of contortions and movements in attempts to control themselves.

Control is easier with appropriate language–and sthis applies to taking responsibility.


Emotion engraves the brain with memories–but also distorts it.

Memory is a three-stage process. The first is the actual experience–the original information. The second is the storage or consolidation of the information over many hours, days, months, and years. The third stage has to do with the retrieval of the memory when you later “relive it.” This retrieval and reliving of memories is susceptible to distortion.

We tend to recall fewer details of pleasant events than we do of troublesome ones. In addition, we tend to retrieve and reconstruct our emotional past in a way that is consistent with our current emotions, and this affects how we recall our experiences.

Age also is in play as the memories of older adults tend toward being more positive. Older adults appear to manage their emotions better by paying less attention to negative things.

Experts suggest that one way to enhance accuracy in emotional memories, while also damping down their negative overtones, is to put a positive spin on a bad situation–a technique referred to as cognitive reappraisal.

Putting a positive spin on an experience cannot only reduce distress, the practice also can sharpen memory.
Although I have been suggesting for years to focus on positivity, it is only after reading the research that I recently learned this practice also sharpens memory.


You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

At the root of so many relationship problems is the fact that people just stop giving. The type of giving that I am referring to involves giving of oneself–not necessarily “things.”

This is especially the case in parent-child relationships.
Parents often give “things” rather than experiences.
They mistakenly think that’s what the kids want. Then, when the kids grow up, they have little to remember.

Years ago, Charles Frances Adams, a 19th century diplomat, wrote in his diary one day, “Took my boy fishing today. A wasted day.” His son, Brook Adams, wrote in his diary the same day, “Went fishing today with my father. Greatest day of my life.”

Give even though you may not get anything in return. If you expect something in return, you’re not giving. You’re exchanging.

One 5-year old boy understood this. His story was told by a hospital volunteer.

The volunteer said she got to know a little girl, a patient named Liz, who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother. He had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the disease.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The boy hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it, if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, seeing the color returning to her cheeks.
Then his face grew pale, and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

The young boy had misunderstood the doctor. He thought he was going to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. But he was willing to give even though he wouldn’t get anything in return.



Hello Sir, This is Janine Leony Pagunsan from Sibalom, Antique Philippines at University of Antique. I Have read your writings about classroom management and discipline and I learned a lot from it. If you don’t mind I would like to ask you how your philosophy influences your students.


My philosophy is to empower students by communicating to them in positive ways, reducing coercion by offering choices, and by having them improve by asking reflective questions.

Too many teachers do not realize that they are in the relationship, marketing, and motivation profession.

Students will not learn from someone they do not like.
Especially with people in poverty, relationships are their most prized possession. This carries over into the classroom. The aphorism is true: People don’t care how much you know until they know that you care.

Today’s students have so many diversions that they do not come to school, sit at the teacher’s feet, and say, “Teach me.” Successful teachers create curiosity, make learning meaningful, enjoyable, challenging, and motivate students to learn. In essence, teachers market the information that they would like students to learn.

Just the other day a teacher wrote, “I am in the motivation business.” She is. All teachers are, and the sooner we realize this the more our efforts will be invested in motivating our students to put forth effort in their learning. A simple way to do this–in addition to the techniques in the above paragraph–is to reflect on the reason that something is being taught. Then share that with students.

Your are joining a marvelous profession. Welcome aboard!


Answering a question with a question is one of the most effective approaches a parent (anyone) can use.

For example, if the young person asks you a question of which you are not sure how to respond, put the conversational ball back with the phrase “What do you mean?”

The beauty of this question is that it immediately gives you something to say, delays any anger that may have been prompted, gives you time to collect your thoughts so you don’t say something that you will regret, and serves as an intelligent response.



I have been using the strategies from the Discipline without Stress book successfully for the past year and a half. I am now teaching fifth grade with a class I looped up with from fourth. They are responsible, respectful, and continue to amaze me.

However, last week (to make a long story short) two students mixed a potion with toxic chemicals at home that another student put in a fourth student’s water bottle. Luckily, another student alerted her before she drank it. This is obviously being handled by the principal, but I would love suggestions about how to deal with the lack of morality of this issue while trying to rebuild our classroom community.
Thanks so much!


The Discipline Without Stress (DWS) system is designed for classroom behavior and learning. A situation such as the one above is rightly an administrative issue.

I visited a school in Florida where a fourth grade class was having a classroom meeting. The discussion was about accepting back a student who was suspended for stealing. The discussion had to do with accepting the student back into the classroom community while not condoning the action of the student.

Quite a sophisticated conversation for 4th graders!

I suggest you do the same, i.e., hold a classroom meeting described in the book http://www.DisciplineWithoutStress.com/

The section can be downloaded at

When you do, refer to the levels and have students create examples for each level tying it to a character reference.
The character reference, “responsibility,” would be a good one to start with. Play with a few others, such as integrity, empathy, kindness, honesty, perseverance, etc.



Although I had excellent education professors and curriculum in graduate school, I have nowhere found a book as helpful, inspiring and transformative as Dr. Marvin Marshall’s “Discipline Without Stress.” It is a wonder of a book and has done wonders for the children on whose behalf I work.

I first heard about “Discipline Without Stress” from a principal. Her enthusiasm for Dr. Marshall’s philosophy, strategies, and classroom tips were so compelling that I had to buy and read the book myself. Within a chapter and a half I was hooked and could only lament that I had not read the book decades ago.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that “Discipline Without Stress” is not only a primer on pedagogy, but in some ways a guide to the reader’s family, work and social lives. Recently I encouraged a fellow instructor to buy the book and promised him that if he didn’t think it was one of the most important books he had read in his field that I would wash his car every Saturday for a year. Three weeks later he called and said, “I read it and now I think I should wash YOUR car for a year. It was THAT good!”

Gary Connors-Boe
Program Coordinator
Four Oaks of Iowa


The book Gary referred to is at
http://DisciplineWithoutStress.com. Enter the code “2nd-Ed”

Any school in the U.S.A can receive the book at no cost–along with additional staff developmnet materials. The only commitment is to read the article at the application
procedure: http://DisciplineWithoutStress.org.


The PARENTING book: 

I am a single parent and my children really test boundaries, but using the techniques and advice in this parenting book I am able to maintain control without screaming or punishing.
The approach is fair, predictable and comprehendible, which makes it easy and effective. Best of all, it works!

Kathy Ferguson
Brisbane, Australia