Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – March 2012

Volume 12 Number 3


  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



A teacher affects eternity;
you can never tell where the influence stops.
–Henry Brooks Adams


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.

Other BER seminars for schools are scheduled for April 18 in Las Vegas, New Mexico and in St. Louis, Missouri on June 12.


Robert Cialdini’s “INFLUENCE: The Psychology of Persuasion”
is a wonderful read about how to influence others.

In his section entitled, “The Inner Choice,” he reports on an experiment where threat was used. Six weeks later, this apprach was totally unsuccessful. However, with another group, the experimenter did not use threat to frighten a boy into obedience, and six weeks later the boys took personal responsibility.

“The important thing is to use a reason that will initially produce the desired behavior and will, at the same time, allow a child to take personal responsibility for the behavior. Selecting the right reason is not an easy task for parents. But the effort should pay off. It is likely to mean the difference between short-lived compliance and long-termed commitment.” (pp. 95-97)


An easy way for parents and teachers–really anyone working with the young–to accomplish this goal is to expose them to the difference between INTERNAL vs. EXTERNAL MOTIVATION on the Hierarchy of Social Development. A primary visual poster is at:


Just as each person has a unique fingerprint and a unique face, each of us also has a unique emotional profile.

Even people who share similar backgrounds respond in dramatically different ways to the same experience. The coping responses differ in kind, intensity, and duration.

Neuroscientists are beginning to place human emotions on a par with cognition. As we change our thoughts, we can also change our emotions.

The brains’s neuroplasticity–the ability to change its structure and function in significant ways–can have a person bounce back from adversity in more successful ways.
Specifically, when cognition is engaged in positive thoughts and we reflect on how to respond to these thoughts, the greater will be the resilience from an adverse situation, as experiments have shown.

As I have often reported, emotions can only be changed through our thinking. For example, when we hear something not to our liking we can become offended–or we can make a choice, such as, “I disagree with what I have heard but will not allow it to offend me.” Cognition always precedes emotion.


During my presentations, I have participants smile, turn to a neighbor and say, “I’m so angry at you!” Laughter immediately results because the task is mutually exclusive.

I discuss how important a smile is to immediately promote good relations. For example, a student came into a classroom displaying a frown. I simply thought of a question that would prompt a smile. I said, “I heard that you rarely smile. Is that true?”


Dr. Phelps Wilkins, former long-time principal at Eisenhower School in Mesa, Arizona, shared with me some questions he asked the staff think to about in their relationshuips with students–especially troubled or challenging ones.

As you read them, think about your most challenging youth.

Through my behavior:

–Does this child know he is safe with me no matter what happens, that he will never be ridiculed, put down, or made to feel small?

–Has this child experienced success in some meaningful manner on a regular basis in my classroom?

–Is the youngster developing a feeling of confidence?

–Does the child feel I have a personal interest in him?

–What have I done to help this child develop a feeling of power in his life?

–Does he know that he has the ability to effect the direction of his own life?

–Do I provide an opportunity for the child to have fun in school?

–Have I used kind words in my relationship with this person?


Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have CHOSEN to perform it in the absence of outside pressure–such as a large reward.

The incentive may get us to perform a certain action, but it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act.
Consequently, we won’t feel COMMITTED to it. The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.

These conclusions have important implications for parents.
It suggests that we should NOT BRIBE or THREATEN our children to do the things we want them truly to believe in.

Such pressures may produce temporary compliance with our wishes. However, if we want more than just that, if we want the children to believe in the correctness of what they have done, if we want them to continue to perform the desired behavior when we are not present to apply those outside pressures, then we must somehow arrange for them to accept inner responsibility for the actions we want them to take.

Having young people exposed to the difference between Level C (external motivation) and Level D (internal motivation) in the Hierarchy of Social Development is a simple and easy way to accomplish this.


Below are questions (Q) asked of me and my responses (R) to a teacher:

(Q) Dr. Marshall,

We are now in our second year of using your program. I love it, but I have a difficult class this year. I teach 4th grade. I have taught, discussed, implemented and reviewed the Marshall Program. I even quizzed the students on the program and they all scored a 100. They totally understand the procedures, what is expected and how they should treat each other. The disconnect is they don’t implement it. They continue to yell out whenever they please.

(R) When this happens, stop your teaching. Review the impulse management poster. Have the entire class stand and review the gasping procedure to prevent becoming emotionally hijacked. Do this for a few days. Also explain by using language similar to that in the box at http://marvinmarshall.com/impulsemanagement.html

(Q) It makes teaching a class of 26 very difficult. Also, we discuss a procedure, they tell me what they should do, then do something totally different when given the opportunity.

(R) First ask a few students to demonstrate the procedure so THE CLASS understands it. Then have the entire class practice the procedure. Do not assume students know the procedure just because you have explained it–even if they have practiced it once or twice.

Repeat the procedure. Every time they do not follow the procedure, practice it again, again, and again until it becomes a routine. This self control and learning responsibility is MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY SUBJECT MATTER YOUR STUDENTS CAN LEARN. Keep this in mind.

(Q) I am continually talking to the students and asking them to reflect on their choices, asking them if their choices are helping our classroom. We even have class discussions/meetings. The students say all the right things, but act in a totally different manner.

(R) After implementing the above impulse control and reinforcing your procedures, let them know that they are choosing to have you operate as a teacher on Level B because they are not mature enough to act on a higher level. Then continually ask them if they want you to be a Level B teacher.

Regarding classroom meetings, a key strategy is to elicit procedures and solutions from the students. They often make suggestions that adults would not think of. In addition, it is common for young people to implement ideas from their peers more readily than if the same ideas came from an adult.

A class discussion is not sysnomyous with a class meeting.
Pleaase review classroom meetings at:

(Q) Additionally, I need clarification on which reflection forms come first.

(R) At this point, I would not use the forms. Instead ELICIT A PROCEDURE or a CONSEQUENCE to help students help themselves. These kids need structure more than anything else. Using forms will not help them nearly as much as having a procedure to redirect impulses.

(Q) They can’t go to the bathrooms without swinging on the doors and getting into trouble. They continue to trip other students because they think its funny, often don’t do their homework, and are always in trouble especially at recess when they are not supervised strictly. I feel at 10 years old, they should be able to handle themselves better. I have spoken with them and talked to their parents.

(R) Don’t you think their parent(s) are having the same problems? TEACH THE PARENTS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING SO PARENTS CAN USE THE SAME APPROACHES AT HOME.

As an additional resource, link to



I can’t tell you how glad I am that I subscribe to your newsletter. I heard you present at a middle schools conference ten or so years ago, bought your book, and, as with so many great ideas that come our way, it has been percolating in my teacher psyche.I am at one with the philosophy that an intrinsically motivated behavior model is the only way to go. Your newsletters serve as a refreshing reminder to me to incorporate its wisdom in my work as a high school English teacher. Thank you for your dogged commitment to our youth and to us, their teachers.

Tom Adams
Los Angeles, California


The PARENTING book: 

Hi, Dr. Marshall-

We are in our fourth year as a public charter school using the Discipline without Stress model for our work with at-risk 7th through 12th grade students. We have found, not surprisingly, that our methods are in conflict with the methods the parents of our students use at home. As a result, we would like to involve as many parents as we can in a book study using Parenting without Stress. Our parents are primarily low income and cannot afford the cost of the book, and we would have significant difficulty paying for books for each parent. Our total school enrollment is capped at 60 students, and we would probably need 50 books (when taking into account parents who have multiple children at our school). Is there a program that donates the Parenting without Stress books to public schools? If not, is there a discount that could be arranged for the purchase of this number of books? (Quantity discounts can be purchased by contacting the distributor at mailto:order@piperpress.com.)

Another idea that occurred to me while writing this email is that it would be useful to have workbooks or journals of some sort that could be used in conjunction with the Parenting without Stress book. Is there any plan for that type of material in the future?

We have had some staff turnover as it takes a special person to be able to be in the same classroom with the same at-risk students for the entire day and multiple years, but I think we have reached some stability in that regard and have been able to become more of a team in using the DWS model. We have shared our work with students and professors at Purdue University and have had multiple student teachers who have been introduced to the DWS model. It has been difficult to get people to look at discipline, responsibility, and students in a different way, but the benefits are enormous!
Thank you for all that you do.

Debra L. Lukens, Ph.D., LCSW
Director, Beacon Academy
West Lafayette, Indiana


NOTE: By the next newsletter, my new publishing site will be active (http://piperpress.com). The site will offer my 100-page Resource Guide that I use in my seminars for sale at a reasonable price. Parents as well as teachers will find it an excellent investment for both the education and parenting book. In addition, a primary book, “The Rainbow School” will be available to help young people visualize and