Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – June 2012

Volume 12 Number 6


  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



Education costs.
But it pays.


I recently received the following from a seminar

“I really appreciated your emphasis on promoting responsibility and motvation to learn with young people.
In your future presentation to us, we want a title that says ‘beyond behaviourism’ in some way.”

My seminar title for the agency is “Beyond Behaviourism:
Learn A More Effective Way to Promote Responsibility and Learning.”

Here will be my opening:

Tom Sawyer was a better psychologist than any behaviorist.
Tom inspired others to whitewash Aunt Polly’s nine-feet high, 30-yards long fence.

On the Saturday morning Tom was engaged in the project, Ben was on his way to the swimming pool and commented to Tom, “What a shame you have to work on Saturday.”

Tom replied, “This is not work. Work is something you are obliged to do. Besides, I don’t think there may be one, maybe two in a thousand who can do the work the way Aunt Polly wants it done. She’s not too particular about her back fence, but the front fence is something different.”
Ben asked, “Can I try it?”

Tom replied, “I don’t know. I’m not sure Aunt Polly would like it.”

Ben said, “Please!”

“Well,” said Tom, “What do you have?” Ben pulled out a frog and gave it to Tom.

Tom pulled the same tactic on the next dozen boys on their way to the swimming pool. Soon enough, Tom had a dozen boys whitewashing Aunt Polly’s front fence while Tom was eating an apple and counting his goodies under a nearby tree.

How did he do it? He enticed the boys by having them WANTING to be engaged in the project. He knew what super salespeople
know: The best way to influence someone is to have the person influence himself.

In contrast to Tom Sawyer’s approach, behaviorists believe that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. They rely on external sources to actuate change. They completely neglect the internal, which is a prime reason that neuroscientists do not rely on these approaches for humans.

Unfortunately, a carrot and stick approach–used to train rodents, birds, and animals–is employed in much of today’s education and parenting. Although behaviorism is touted for special education students who are given tangibles to reinforce desired behaviors, this approach is often used now (and in some cases mandated) for all students.

In addition, external sources focus on obedience, but obedience does not create desire or commitment.

Although external sources can control, they cannot change people. People change themselves.

Tom intuitively knew this. Behaviorists ignore it.


Young people know little of the travails that their parents once faced as everyday experiences–be it the two-mile walk to school, the shoveling out of the ashes from the apartment building’s furnace, or spending a summer painting a long picket fence. Their idea of a hard time today is when their parents aren’t home to provide dinner, and the young have to make their own.

I once worried about their perspective until someone told me that you can never make your kids truly appreciate your experiences. They will never know what your experiences really were like. You can share you own growing up stories with them–and when they grow older they will have wished you would have–but just don’t expect your own younger challenges to resonate with your children. They will be like stories they read in a book or see on a screen.

That was good advice. There really is no need to convince young people of how much harder it may have been for older generations. Nothing we do can have the young feel what former generations have lived through, and our stories will have little influence, if any, on their circumstances. They only know their own experiences.

Long ago I stopped saying, “When I was young,” and “You do not realize how easy you have it.” What my wife and I did instead was to concentrate on providing the values that we hold dear, values that would stand in good times or bad.

I am referring to values reminiscent of the classical virtues, namely, qualities of character. The four classical virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude–as old as Aristotle–are just as compelling today. Prudence is practical wisdom–recognizing and making the right choices.
Temperance involves much more than moderation in all things.
It is the control of human passions and emotions, especially anger and frustration. Fortitude is courage in pursuit of the right path, despite the risks. It is the strength of mind and courage to persevere in the face of adversity.
Justice, in the classical sense, includes fairness, honesty, and keeping promises.

I have concluded that the best we can do is pass on the wisdom of former generations, and it is our responsibility to do so. When we share the values upon which the country was founded, our children will be in a position to take care of themselves and pass on those values that bring satisfaction and happiness.

Perpetuating values–especially responsibility–has always been the central theme of my publications and presentations.


In Doris Kern Goodwin’s book, “NO ORDINARY TIME – Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II,” I found the following passage so inspirational that I am sharing it with you. The situation was that men were going to war and the government needed women to fill the jobs usually held by men.

“The production rate shot up immediately in the departments where they used a large percentage of women. Mrs. Frances DeWitt was one of Consolidated’s best lathe operators. ‘I never did anything more mechanical than replace a blown-out fuse,’ she said. ‘But after the war broke out I wasn’t satisfied with keeping house and plying bridge.’

“After three weeks of craft school, she was hired by Consolidated. The foreman asked if I could run a lathe. I said ‘I CAN IF YOU’LL SHOW ME HOW.'” (Emphasis added) (page 369)


I am mindful never to take my wife for granted.

I still court her. I thank her after each meal she serves, I still open the passenger’s car door for her, and I keep in my mind, “Be kind to her.”

It’s age-old wisdom: Give–and you will get more in return.

Try it.


It still amazes me how educators in leadership positions continue to subscribe to the strategy of using standardized tests for measuring learning–let alone the newest trend of evaluating teachers using standardized test scores. By definition, 50 per cent of the test takers will fall below average–and, thereby, 50 percent need improvement.

I know a few people who rarely demonstrate their competence, wisdom, or skill on a measurement instrument. In contrast to the natural sciences, every measurement instrument in the social sciences is SUBJECTIVE. We succumb to the illusion that only that which can be quantified can be true or valid.

I am not against accountability, but I am against those instruments that are not valid or reliable.

As W. Edwards Deming (the international expert who brought both improved quality and lower costs to the workplace) said, “THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION CANNOT BE MEASURED.

We should listen to the cowboy who said, “When the horse is dead, dismount.” Educators should take this wisdom as it applies to using standardized tests for learning accountability and for teacher evaluation.


“My son won’t talk to me,” said the parent.

My suggestion: Take a moment to reflect. Perhaps the reason is that you don’t listen to him.

“Zip the lip” when a youngster is talking may be the most effective parenting strategy you can develop.


I was asked if DWS can be used with “kids at risk.”

Hi, I am writing to you because in our school we are using DWS. I would like to know if there is any experience working with socially at-risk children. Because I think that most of their parents are in jail or without job, do you think it is possible to implement DWS with those children?

My response:

Implementing the DWS Teaching Model has a greater chance of success than any other program.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. The approach is proactive. The hierarchy is taught BEFORE PROBLEMS arise.

2. The approach is TOTALLY NONCOERCIVE, thereby eliminating the natural tendency to defend oneself.

3. The approach EMPOWERS. All people want to feel empowered.

4. The approach significantly REDUCES VICTIMHOOD THINKING.
A person always has a choice as to the response to a situation that cannot be changed, a stimulation that occurs, or an impulse that can be redirected.

5. The approach REDUCES BULLYING.

6. The approach HELPS PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF NEGATIVE PEER INFLUENCE and, thereby, helps resist irresponsible behaviors.

Please see the testimonial below.


The EDUCATION book: 

The “carrot and stick” approaches “work” oftentimes (as their proponents say), but they are coercive and do nothing to develop students’ character, self-reflection skills, or intrinsic motivation to learn or be a better citizen. DWS not only helps the student be a better student, it helps the teacher be a better manager and teacher. This approach eases the stress of the teacher, the contrary student, every other student in the classroom who are witnesses to the usual power struggle, the principal (and/or v.p. if there is one), and the office staff who have to deal with all the students sent to the office. I’m looking forward to using this again next year and sharing it with other teachers as well.

Alexander N. Brittain
Willits, California

NOTE: Alexander Brittain teaches students–who for various reasons such as having exceptional social and emotional problems, severe ODD behavior, and criminal behavior–cannot be in a regular classroom.


The PARENTING book: 

I have already tried some things on my three-and-a-half-year old daughter. The ideas are great!

Cathy Marlow
San Diego, California


The following is from a recent SEMINAR evaluation:

I found this seminar not only very interesting but so useful that I am very eager to start implementing the ideas.

Matt Clay
Joplin, Missouri