Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – January 2013

 Volume 13 Number 1


  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




“I have the Raise the Responsibility System set up in my music room and how amazing the transformation was for me once I stopped offering rewards and doling out punishments.”

Crystal Estey
St. Louis, MO

By the way, I have been teaching music and we call the C & D levels HARMONY and the B & A levels DISSONANCE.

Jan Tortorella
Sugar Land, TX



This week marks the twelfth anniversary of this newsletter. A few subscribers have been around since the inaugural issue in 2001; the rest of you signed on somewhere along the way. No matter when you came on board, though, I’m grateful for your interest and hope we can continue meeting like this for many more years.


Many people are searching for acceptance outside of themselves when they haven’t yet learned to accept themselves. Self-acceptance means being okay with WHO you are. It means being kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, fail, or do something that you later regret.

Self-acceptance is a close relative to self-esteem. It is difficult to have one without the other, and, if you have one, you will tend to have the other. There may be many reasons why people have low self-acceptance, but most fall into one or more the following areas:
—A desire to be perfect
—A focus on imperfections rather than on blessings
—An eager desire for approval and to be liked
—A strong desire to please others
—An extraordinary concern for other people’s opinions about you
—Feeling inadequate or some perceived lack of ability or skill

To accept yourself fully is to recognize that not everyone you meet will like you and that you will never be perfect. Humans are fallible. We can never be perfect in all our endeavors for the simple reason that a person cannot learn and be perfect at the same time. We are always learning and growing, and growth is one of the pleasures and,satisfactions of living. Regarding pleasing others, the famous comedian Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

You are not finished making mistakes or doing foolish things. Falling is natural; not getting up is the challenge. A happy and contented life is not about what happens and why, but rather about how you deal with your challenges.

The key to gaining self-acceptance is to recognize that you are engaged in a process of continual learning. Sometimes this requires risk, and with the risk comes the reward.
Having a willingness to learn and not be discouraged in the process is a requirement of self-acceptance.

Former U.S. Senate leader Everett Dirksen said, “I am a man of principle, and my first principle is a willingness to change my mind.” If your self-talk is one of not fully
accepting yourself, you have the option of changing the conversation.

As long as you feel inadequate about yourself in some task or about yourself in general, you are participating in a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the instructions in an airplane
are announced, put the face mask on YOURSELF before helping someone else. Your first responsibility is to accept yourself. It is essential for accepting others.


“I DON’T Beats I CAN’T for Self-Control” is the headline in Scientific American Mind (Jan/Feb, 2013, p.12).

The article asserts that using willpower as a choice makes sticking to resolutions easier. Researchers examined the effect of different wording when using self-talk to resist
temptation. When participants framed a refusal as “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” they were more successful at resisting the desire to eat unhealthy foods or skip the gym.

Saying “I can’t” connotes deprivation while saying “I don’t” prompts us to feel empowered and better able to resist temptation.

Another self-empowering approach is to change an adjective to a verbal form. For example, next time you are angry, instead of thinking “I am angry” think “I am angering.”
You will be amazed at how much more in control this self-talk will have on your effectiveness.


A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there are flowers only on your side of the path but not on the other pot’s side?

“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them.

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without your being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots.

But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. Take people for what they are by looking for the good in them.


Rainier Scholars is a project for low-income students in Seattle, Washington that recruits 5th graders and has them attend full-time summer school plus weekend classes. The goal is to see them through college graduation.

Drego Little, one of the teachers, visualizes his young students as future doctors, city councilmen, and other responsible, successful grownups. He says, “I treat them as
if they were going to be consequential people—and work back from there. If you treat them as if they actually have a future, they tend to have one.” He wants to give his students expectations early in their lives.

David McCullough in his masterful book, “JOHN ADAMS, reports that the second president of the United States used the same technique when he was teaching school. ” can discover all the geniuses, all the surprising actions and revolutions of the great world in miniature. I have several renowned generals but three feet high, and several
deep-projecting politicians in petticoats. I have others catching and dissecting flies, accumulating remarkable pebbles, cockleshells, etc. with as ardent curiosity as any virtuoso as in the Royal Academy….” (page 38)

Perhaps Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated it best, “If you treat someone as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he could and ought to be, he will become what he could and ought to be.”

If you ask someone the key to success in real estate, you will hear the following response: location, location, location. With education, a critical approach of the superior teacher is expectation, expectation, expectation.

Notice, however, that expectations starts with a person’s own expectations.


The following is from one of my recent blogs.
I share it here because it assists character development.


Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done” and you’ll do it.
—Edgar A. Guest


Dear Sir,
Thank you very much to enlighten us with your great thought provoking ideas. I am a very regular reader of your newsletters. My question is: As a teacher, one cannot inculcate any skill to a child if there is no will. How can we work on will of a student.

Roots School System
77-A Satellite Town


You are right when you refer to not being able to inculcate a skill in a child who has no will. Therefore, the question becomes, “How can you create interest so that the young person will WANT to do what you would like?”

Here are a few suggestions:
1. Let the youngster know that you understand how the youngster feels and that you will make no attempt to change the youngster’s feelings. (This approach is often referred
to as paradoxical in that as soon as you indicate you will not do anything, the person very often wants to do what you originally wanted the person to do.)

2. Establish more of a relationship with the person by regularly acknowledging, e.g., smiling face, good handwriting, leadership qualities, successfully working with
others. Since emotions follow cognition, this tactic will prompt positive feeling—-a necessary requirement for effort.

3. Continue to ask reflective questions such as, “Since effort brings the reward of satisfaction, what can you do to make yourself feel good?” 

4. Give the youngster some responsibility to perform. Let the youngster know that you need some assistance in an activity, that you recognize the youngster has a talent for leadership, and then ASK the youngster if he/she would help you.

5. Invest a little money in “Children of the Rainbow School.” 

The stories and illustrations have young people WANT to rise to the highest level of personal and social development. Selected pages or the entire book can be printed.



The EDUCATION book: 

I have known about and used the Raising Responsibility system in my classrooms for 15 years successfully. Initially I found out about you online when searching for
discipline ideas. I have advertised for you and shared the book with many student teachers as well as teaching buddies that this system works and I highly recommend it to
everyone. Thank you for all your insight and foresight! You saved my teaching career fifteen years ago and I proudly retired from public school teaching after 29 years.

Your biggest fan,
Jan Tortorella
Sugar Land, TX


The PARENTING book: 

This book provides parents with a Global Positioning System for raising responsible children. It is the road map for successful parenting.

James Burns
Winnebago, Illinois