Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – September 2012

Volume 12 Number 9


  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



You cannot mandate pride.



While finishing my dinner at an international conference in San Antonio, I recognized one of the three people being seated at the next table. After their orders had been taken, I took advantage of the time before their food was served and approached the table. The result was a most interesting conversation with John Glenn, his wife, and a representative of the Kellogg Foundation.

The former astronaut (first American to orbit the earth, 1962, and former four-term Ohio Senator) had initiated a SERVICE LEADERSHIP program, a joint effort of the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and the Kellogg Foundation.

I mentioned that I had been the principal of Norwalk High School when he visited John Glenn High School, his namesake, a neighboring high school in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District in Los Angeles County. My point to him was that SERVICE LEARNING is a significant contribution.

Past generations had a higher priority for qualities of character and behaviors that make for uplifting society.

For many parents today, self-esteem and how people feel have become of paramount importance. Parents have come to believe that external approaches–such as rewarding youngsters for appropriate behavior–are thought to be necessary. Good intentions, but look at the results: Youngsters ask, “If I do that, what will I get?” The simple wisdom has been lost.
People gain and grow by GIVING, rather than by receiving. It is in the EFFORT that a person grows.

John Glenn’s SERVICE LEARNING encourages one of the most valuable approaches toward growth and responsibility. As the motto of Rotary International states, “Service Above Self.”

Quoted from: “Tips for Promoting Responsibility with Young People


COUNTERWILL is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled.

Although adults experience this phenomenon, we seem to be surprised when we encounter it in young people. Counterwill is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted dynamic in child-parent and teacher-student relationships.

This instinctive resistance to force can take many forms:
refusal to do what is asked, reluctance and resistance when being told, disobedience or defiance, and lack of motivation to do what the adult desires the young person to do.

Counterwill can manifest itself in procrastination or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity, or argumentativeness and is such a universal phenomenon at certain stages of development that it has given rise to the terms “terrible twos” and “rebellious teens.”

PEOPLE RESIST COERCION IN ANY FORM. Telling a person what to do has the inference that what the person is doing is not good enough and needs to change. No one of any age likes to hear this. People don’t mind changing as much as they dislike being told to change.

The most effective approach to eliminate counterwill is not to use coercion. Learning to ask reflective questions is the quickest and most effective approach. It is based on the simple truism that THE MOST EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO INFLUENCE PEOPLE IS TO HAVE PEOPLE INFLUENCE THEMSELVES.


Mean comments arise more from a lack of eye contact than from anonymity.

People are meaner online than in real life. Many have blamed this on anonymity and invisibility because when you are online, no one knows who you are or what you look like. However, it has been suggested that we have a tendency to be nasty on the Internet because we do not make eye contact with those with whom we are communicating.

A recent study demonstrated this point. The subjects had to look into their partner’s eyes and predict how mean they were. When their eyes were hidden, participants were twice as likely to be hostile. Even if the subjects were both unrecognizable (with only their eyes on the screen) and anonymous, they rarely made threats if they maintained eye contact. Seeing a partner’s eyes helps you understand the signals that the person is trying to send, which often fosters empathy and, therefore, more effective communications.


The best story I have heard about the confusion between CAUSE AND EFFECT (a situation where one situation prompts a response in another situation) was from my days as an economics major. The story that Frank Knight of the University of Chicago told came from Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, a social anthropologist.

Many years ago, a group of missionaries in the eastern part of Africa decided to teach the natives better methods of farming and hit on the bright idea that the way to do it rapidly would be to get a promising young man from each tribe, teach him, and then send him back to practice the better methods, whereupon the entire tribe would follow the example.

One of the young men went back to his tribe in Portuguese East Africa, duly plowed his field instead of punching holes with a stick, cultivated his crop, and soon had a splendid showing–especially so because it happened to be a dry year and no other field than his was able to yield a crop.

This fact naturally caused some uneasiness among the native people. In such situations, it was usual to talk of witchcraft. There had been uneasiness and murmuring from the first indication of the use of practices not sanctioned by the ancestral gods. So without any ceremony or any discussion, the people took the innovator, cut him into small pieces, and planted a piece in each field of the tribe.

The next year everybody had a good crop.


If you find that disciplining your children and fostering a sense of responsibility in them is stressful or unsuccessful, the use of traditional parenting approaches may be the problem.

Here are five considerations to make it easier: (1) challenge the child, (2) put the child in charge, (3) change your question, (4) empower with responsibility, and (5) use creative phrasing.


Q = Question; R = My Response

Q: What would you do in the following scenario: You ask your children/students to identify the level they have chosen but they refuse to be honest and acknowledge the actual level chosen.

R: If the youngster is in the 5th or 6th grade or above, I would NOT ASK. Instead I would say, “Reflect on the level you are choosing, and consider whether you want to continue on that level or rise to a higher level.”

Q: Picking on her younger sister, it seems that the behaviors identified with the various levels should be clearly spelled out and identified, for example Level A equals behavior X.

R: You would spend too much time doing this. Besides, the behavior in Level C and in Level D can be identical–such as picking up trash because asked by an adult or taking the initiative because it is the right thing to do. The behavior on each of these levels is identical: The trash has been picked up. The difference between Level C and Level D is in the MOTIVATION, not in the behavior.

Have faith in your children. Once you introduce the levels and they understand them, they know when they are acting on an inappropriate level–A or B. After introducing the levels, spend no time differentiating between Level A and Level B; they are both unacceptable.

Q: If they don’t want to admit the facts and recognize what level they’ve chosen, what other recourse is left?

R: The purpose is NOT to determine facts. THE PURPOSE IS TO PROMPT REFLECTION, which so often–just by itself–prompts a change in behavior. Persevere by asking a question, such as “How long do you need to figure out that what you are doing is on an unacceptable level?”

If YOU want to be in charge, YOU ask questions–rather than tell them. Of course it’s o.k. to SHARE such as, “You realize that when you choose Level B, you are telling me that you are not mature enough to act on your own. Do you really want me to boss you?”

Q: What would you do if you were in my shoes?

R: I would invest $9.99 and purchase
http://piperpress.com/children-of-rainbow-school.php and then read the stories and share the illustrations with your children.


The EDUCATION book: 

I now know I could never go back to the punishment and reward models of previous years. The only way I can change another person’s behaviour is to change my own first. This knowledge has contributed to the most amazing transformative learning journey in me and for me, in my children and for my children, and in more ways than I can express.

Dianne Hall
Sydney, Australia
Case Study of a 4.5-year-old-boy with Severe Behavior Problems in Pre-School


The PARENTING book: 

This is a practical, easy to understand, parenting book that offers a different way to think about behavior and child rearing. The ideas presented have already proven to be effective in the classroom and are sure to help parents create a happy, effective family unit.

Dr. Gwen Kessell
Lakeland, Florida


The following is from a recent SEMINAR evaluation:

Amazing! I truly wish I had learned about this earlier in my teaching career. I am so excited to give it a try! You are so motivational. I have been waiting for a “plan” like this.
I know it will work for me.

Tara Belisle,
St. Louis, Missouri