Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – May 2006

Volume 6 Number 5 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Promoting Learning

 6. Discipline without Stress

 7. What People Say


Last month’s section “3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS,” was

about Leo, a teacher in China. He stated that he would like

more people in China to know about Dw/oS. He requested

people leave comments on his blog and that he would

translate some of them into Chinese for posting.

I then made an error by stating that the site has been

blocked. When copying the URL (Uniform Resource Locator–

“the world wide web address”), I neglected to add “cn” for

“China” as the suffix.

You can see Leo’s blog and add a comment. If you scroll past

the Chinese posting, you will see what he has posted in

English. The correct URL is


Leo will be presenting a summer workshop on Dw/oS in China

and would greatly appreciate any experience you have had

using the system that he can share in his workshop.

I have given him–as I give everyone–permission to use and

share anything from my websites as long as the specific

website is included:





I recently received a communication from a school that was

implementing my approach and queried about (1) the use of

forms and (2) administrative back up.

1) Use of forms:

I explained that when I first developed the Raise

Responsibility System, I used the essay and self-diagnostic


I used the essay form to have a student reflect:

(1) What did I do? (Acknowledgment), (2) What can I do to

prevent it from happening again? (Choice), and (3) What will

I do? (Commitment) (page 274 in the book) (Forms were never

used in primary grades.)

If misbehavior continued, then the Self-Diagnostic Referral

would be used (page 275 or 276–depending upon the grade


Every day was treated as a new day, and if the student acted

on level A/B on a second day, then an essay would be

assigned to stop the lesson interruption and again have the

student reflect. The essay was always given before a

Self-Diagnostic Referral was used.

However, I relied on the forms less often as I started to

elicit a procedure to help students help themselves.


2) Administrative back up:

As the person in charge of discipline in an elementary

school, middle school and high school, my philosophy was

different from that when I was classroom teacher (elemntary,

middle, and high school).

When a teacher sent a student to the office, I would be sure

never to send the student back the same day in a middle

school or high school situation, and only after a long

respite on the elementary level. I believed that both the

teacher and student needed a break from each other.

However, when a student was sent to my office, the teacher

was communicating to me that the teacher had done all that

was possible and needed administrative assistance. I then

used my knowledge of the student and of the family to

enforce both school standards and assist the student not to

repeat the inappropriate or irresponsible behavior. Here is

the main point: I did not see my role as doing the classroom

teacher’s bidding.

In my mind, administrative back up seeks to resolve a

situation that assists the teacher to help the student

become more responsible.


“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked the new


“Yes, sir,” came the reply.

“Well, then, that explains everything.” The employer

continued, “After you left early yesterday to go to your

grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you.”


“What Would Shaq Do?” is an outgrowth from last month:


It was sent to me by Bob Sullivan who is consulting with an

inner city school. On his first day, the principal was

involved with a boy who was pushing in the cafeteria line.

As the principal was then attending to other students, Bob

began talking with the student–who has a difficult home

life–and found out that he liked basketball and that

Shaquille O’Neil was his favorite player.

Later when teaching the staff about “Impulse Management”

using the traffic signal poster, he used Shaq as a model to

choose a good option when agitated. (See poster at


Start with the red light and then move on to the yellow

light for pausing to think of possible options before


As a result of the following story, each teacher was given a

copy and some posters of Shaquille O’Neil that could be

posted in classrooms.


Shaquille O’Neil is a professional basketball player in a

league that has the greatest athletes in the world. He is a

big man, seven feet-one inch tall and weighs 330 pounds. He

is very strong but agile, possessing a variety of athletic

moves around the basket.

But what makes him special is his attitude on the basketball

court. This combination of skill and attitude makes it

almost impossible for the other teams to keep him from

scoring. Opposing players hang on his arms and hit him in

the face and neck as they swing wildly, attempting to make

him miss the shot.

How does this superstar react to the rough play? A few years

ago some teams planned a strategy to stop him called the

“Shaq Attack.” Because Shaquille is not a good free throw

shooter, their idea was to foul him every time he went up

for a shot.

WHAT WOULD SHAQ DO? Before every game he considered his

options. He could get angry. He could hit back. He could

push defenders away with one hand and shoot with the other.

But all of these options would hurt his team by getting him

in foul trouble or thrown out of the game. So he made the

decision to stay in control and focus on making the basket

even though he knew he was going to get fouled hard. He also

decided to look at himself and work extra hard to improve

himself and become a better free throw shooter.

The “Shaq Attack” is not used anymore because one man stayed

in control and became the victor in a situation that could

have kept him and his team from becoming champions.

So when things don’t go your way and you start blaming

others or are about to make a poor decision, ask yourself,



At the recent Association for Supervision and Curriculum

Development (ASCD) convention, a high school principal

commented to me as he pointed to hundreds of exhibits of

books, technology, and teaching materials around the vast

exhibit hall, “None of these address the first and most

critical component of classroom teaching: CONNECTING!”


Gordon Neufeld, a Vancouver, Canada based clinical

psychologist directly addresses this concept. He speaks

about attachment and its necessity for young people to feel

attached until they are able to function independently.

Since attachment facilitates dependence, I prefer to use the

term “connectedness.”

Dr. Neufeld cites an interesting procedure many teachers and

parents use with young people. It’s called “time-out.” He

makes the point that this approach sends the message that

separation is a more effective teacher than relationships.

Separation is the most wounding of all relationships. Dr.

Neufeld refers to separation as being insidious because it

is subtle in its harmful effects.

Dr. Neufeld states that oftentimes, if time-out is

necessary, it is the adult who needs it because the adult is

the one who is bothered or angry.

He suggests using discipline that does not divide or

separate. Keeping connected is a natural characteristic of

the Raise Responsibility System at



Saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong and you were

right,” or

“I screwed up” requires a certain amount of security and

maturity. Such statements, said in sincerity, are very

difficult for some people of the male gender to say. Yet, no

other phrase (s) can do more to improve relationships.

When we do not admit an error or a mistake, in a sense, it

is a striving for perfection. In the book (pages 150-152) I

refer to perfectionism as a burden that no human should ever



Asking, “Why?” is an INeffective question when it relates to


For example, the answer to asking a young person, “Why are

you doing that?” will prompt answers such as, “I don’t know”

or an excuse, such as, “I have ADD.”

In contrast, asking a student, “Why are you LEARNING that?”

and receiving a similar response, “I don’t know,” is a

reflection on the teacher, not on the student.

Sharing the “why” for something you would like young people

to learn is an extremely effective teaching technique for

promoting learning and effort. It becomes “purpose driven,”

which, in turn,

–prompts self motivation,

–sustains that motivation,

–diminishes resistance, and

–enhances better decisions.

When you reflect on this idea, you will quickly realize that

the principle of explaining the” why” holds true in any

leadership, teaching, or parenting situation.

A teacher and I discussed this idea. As a challenge, she

asked, “Why study World War II?” My impromptu response:

–to learn about the quest for power

–to learn that economics has nothing to do with morality

–to learn how previous political decisions affect history

–to learn that appeasement invites aggressive behavior

–to learn that any situation must be viewed in context,

suggesting that Gandhi’s approach would only work in

democracies–that it would be short lived in Japan’s

imperial quest or Germany’s Nazism.

History teachers can list a plethora of additional reasons

to make the topic worthy of study.

My point, however, is that a teacher’s sharing with students

the “why” to the importance of the topic (1) challenges the

teacher to reflect on the reasons it is in the curriculum

(thereby promoting enthusiasm for the teacher) and (2)

sharing it is one of the most effective approaches for

reducing student apathy towards learning the topic.

“What’s in it for me?” is the intuitive question asked by

any purchaser, and that is the reason that successful

marketers always talk in terms of the “sizzle” rather than

the steak–the BENEFITS, rather than the FEATURES.

Teachers are marketers of information, knowledge, learning,

character development and a host of other FEATURES that

bring BENEFITS to their students. Most educators just don’t

think of themselves as marketers. But imagine how learning

could be so much more effective if we did!

Or to think of it another way, how successful would

marketers and advertisers be if they told their clients to

just put merchandise on the shelves? Forget about the

benefits. After all won’t consumers purchase what you want

them to buy just because you present it to them? Isn’t it

their obligation?

6. Discipline without Stress


I am a first-year home schooling mom. I have a self-

motivated third grade boy who also has Sensory Integration

Disorder. I also have a fifth grade girl who struggles with

staying focused and would rather read all day.

My biggest struggle this year has been our morning routine.

My daughter, who is very bright, has difficulty staying

within the parameters of time set out for her. The routine

set out is to be done in 1 1/2 hours. Many days this goes to

two hours or more.

Her routine is written out for her step by step and I feel

that it is very realistic. My desire is to start school at

8:00 a.m., but this rarely happens for her. She will use a

timer to be able to limit her shower and eating time, but it

is not enough to get us within the 1 1/2 hour limit. I am

tempted to and have slipped into giving consequences, but

they don’t last and are not effective. If you can offer any

assistance in helping us achieve this goal for her, I am

confident she will feel better about herself and our days

overall will be more effective.

The last newsletter you sent, has been the most helpful so

far. All of them are good, this last one seems to be more

instructional and gave me some good ideas to implement at


Thanks for your service to raising the quality of life in

children’s lives.




ELICIT from her a consequence that will help her help

herself. ELICITING is the key. If you IMPOSE a consequence,

she will have no ownership in it and, as you found, it will

not be very effective.

Have her continually repeat to herself her new mantra:

If I follow my procedures, I will become ____________.

If I do not follow my procedures, my self-imposed

consequences will be_____________?”

7. What People Say

I must let you know how wonderful it will be to have the

opportunity to meet and work with you in person when you

visit New Zealand in January 2007.

In June, 2002 I subscribed to your monthly online

newsletter. Back then the circulation was just over 1800.

Your newsletter quickly became a regular part of our staff

meeting discussions. Teachers subscribed, and the way our

classrooms and school worked together began to change as we

embraced your work and implemented your ideas.

At the start of 2005, I presented each of my teachers with

their own copy of “Discipline without Stress, Punishments or

Rewards” and regularly include tips from your “Tips for

Parents” in our school newsletters–all with positive

feedback on how simple and effective your ideas are–without

stress, punishments or rewards!

Promoting responsibility, sending positive messages,

offering choices, and encouraging reflection allows

Upokongaro School to be truly learner focused. We pride

ourselves in our calm relaxed atmosphere where children are

guided to become self responsible with their behaviour and

in their learning.

For us, this is the greatest gift we can give learners to

ensure their ongoing success, love of learning and of

life–seeing what they can become.

Your work and ideas have made such a positive difference for

me personally andÊfor everyone at Upokongaro School. I am

really pleased that you will be visiting our beautiful

country and empowering New Zealand teachers.

Thank you for making a difference for Upokongaro School.


Naomi White, Principal

Upokongaro School

Wanganui, New Zealand


Preview a presentation by the author at


See a video clip from the In-House Staff Development from

the last link at