Volume 8 Number 12
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7. Testimonials and Research
8. SPECIAL ARTICLE ABOUT THE HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
MONTHLY RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARNING QUOTE:
People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But people will NEVER forget how you prompted them to feel.
—from Dr. James Sutton
The nation’s expert on oppositional defiant behavior
A prime difference between DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS and
other approaches is how to react when young people behave
The updated “Impulse Management” link will be of great
assistance in helping adults deal with young people to
become more responsible. See
A new “MEDIA ROOM” has been added to my homepage menu bar:
The “Media Presentations” page contains the following:
–A 1.5-minute video of the developer indicating how
DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS differs from other approaches
–A 10-minute small-screen view of selected sections from
the 90-minute DVD and VHS that are part of the IN-HOUSE
STAFF DEVELOPMENT described at the In-House Package link at
–An eight-minute presentation about how current approaches
to influence others are ineffective
–Five minutes with Esther Severy, Principal, McFadden
Intermediate School, Santa Ana, CA showing how DISCIPLINE
WITHOUT STRESS significantly improved her school
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
This section is about how giving young people
reinforces young people’s values–rather than promoting
ADULT values. The story is about a “new” (BUT VERY, VERY
OLD) manipulative approach that fosters obedience rather
than promoting responsibility.
The following is from a Canadian newspaper:
The weekly Huntsville Forester reported that it seems as
though Bill 212 is having a positive effect at schools
served by Ontario’s Trillium Lakelands District School
Board. The bill, passed in February, “is intended to promote
a more progressive and constructive approach to student
discipline.” As such, it mandates that schools create new
codes of conduct. According to Kevin Cutler, superintendent
of SPECIAL EDUCATION (caps added) and safe schools for the
district, “since the bill was implemented, of the 42
elementary schools served by the board, 37 have reduced the
number of suspensions and expulsions. All of the secondary
schools had a dramatic decrease.” Schools in the district
are implementing a strategy called Positive Behaviour
Supports to try essential strategies at the school level,”
I HAVE OFTEN REPORTED THAT THIS MANIPULATIVE APPROACH WAS
DEVELOPED FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS, AND NOW THIS
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION APPROACH IS THRUST ON ALL STUDENTS.
The article continues:
SCHOOL REWARD SYSTEM HAS ONTARIO PARENTS LIVID
THE PARENTS’ SCHOOL BOYCOTT MEANS ‘WELL BEHAVED’ KIDS TO
MISS SCHOOL HALLOWEEN PARTY –Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest
News Service, Wednesday, October 29, 2008
OTTAWA – At a quiet little elementary school in Kingston,
Ontario, a boycott is underway by a group of parents who are
forbidding their children from wearing a tag around their
neck with hole punches to prove they are well-behaved.
Students at Monseigneur Remi-Gaulin School must accumulate a
certain number of hole punches to be eligible for rewards
such as this Friday’s Halloween activities in the gymnasium.
While the rest of the school enjoys the day, those students
whose parents disapprove of the new discipline approach
introduced in September will stay in their classrooms, and
that has their parents incensed.
You can be sure that, I will be at the school. I want to
know what will happen,” said Louise Meunier, one of seven
The purpose of the punch card, carried in a plastic pouch
and tucked behind an identification tag with the child’s
name and photo, is to help shift the focus from reprimanding
bad behaviour to encouraging and recognizing good behaviour.
When students follow the rules, teachers use their
discretion and either verbally compliment them for doing so,
or give them a hole punch in their card.
The dissenting parents have a long list of reasons why they
disapprove of the system. They claim it’s unnecessary at a
school where there were no major behavioural problems. They
say it incorrectly focuses on rewards and that it does more
harm than good.
“Our children were coming home in tears; they were very
stressed out,” said Adele Mercier, another parent who is
leading the charge against the new system.
According to the parents, children are so worried about
getting enough holes to receive a reward that it’s
distracting from their studies. It’s also causing
COMPETITION among students and SOME CHILDREN ARE NOW ASKING
THEIR PARENTS HOW THEY WILL BE REWARDED FOR MAKING THEIR BED
OR FOR CLEANING THEIR ROOM, CHORES THEY PREVIOUSLY DID
WITHOUT INCENTIVE. (caps added)
“It’s encouraging not the commission of good behaviour, but
the desire to be recognized for doing it,” said Mercier.
“This system is destroying the moral autonomy of our
children by obligating them to seek public recognition of
their self-managed behaviour,” said Mercier, who teaches
philosophy at Queen’s University.
The school stands by its decision to implement the
punch-card system and Principal Andre Dostaler said it needs
to be given a chance.
“The intent down the road is that the student will
appreciate the good behaviour and won’t necessarily be
soliciting the reward,” he said.
(NOTE: This is a prime belief for the justification of
the approach. However, many studies have shown the exact
opposite occurs. There is not only no transfer from
“external motivation” (EXTERNAL locus of control) to
“internal motivation” (INTERNAL locus of control), but
young people exposed to external rewards such as in this
program become more selfish.)
Dostaler said changes have been made to the program based on
parent feedback and that while he respects the boycotting
parents’ decision, it does come with repercussions for their
children such as missing out on the Halloween festivities.
The principal likens the system to an air miles program,
where people aren’t punished for not collecting points but
aren’t eligible for the rewards offered unless they are
participating in it.
Meunier and Mercier, whose sons are in Grade 5, disagree and
say their well-behaved children–a description the principal
supports–deserve to go to the Halloween activities and
will view it as a punishment if they aren’t permitted to
(Alfie Kohn refers to this in his classic tome, “Punished
by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive
Plans, A’s, Praise, and other Bribes.”)
“In the mind of a child, being excluded from even a small
activity like this is significant,” said Meunier.
The punch-card system is based on a model called Positive
Behavioural Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Normand
St-Georges, the program’s coordinator for the school board,
provided training on the approach.
“People in the school are torn with this scenario. They
don’t like to have kids not go to an activity but at the
same time they are stuck between a rock and a really hard
place because they have to manage the system,” he said.
Dostaler said that despite not wearing the tag the children
are getting recognized verbally for their good behaviour.
Meunier and Mercier are convinced the school is taking the
wrong approach and have taken their fight to the school
To paraphrase the old “Blondie” cartoon, as Dagwood Bumstead
would say, “Giving kids rewards for acting responsibly
makes a lot of sense–until you start thinking about it.”
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
The December, 2008 issue of Scientific American has an
interesting article dealing with visual illuminations.
Various examples are given as to how one’s movements can
“trick” the brain. For example, whether a movement of the
arm is straight or curved and how the movement of one’s chin
Your understanding of movements, especially of how one
stands with someone else–face to face or side by side–can
have an affect on how your verbal communications can
increase your effectiveness.
If you are interested in this topic and how a person’s
gestures and movements can influence others, you may enjoy
how Apollo Robins takes a watch and other objects from an
unsuspecting volunteer and then explains how he does it. The
sound at the introduction of the video is a challenge, but
the sound improves when his demonstration starts.
The video is at http://tinyurl.com/6lhxy8.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
When anyone is sharing a problem, praise acts as a
Try this experiment: Next time you are with someone who
starts sharing a personal problem with you, send some
positive evaluation of the person, and then listen carefully
to the defensive responses you will hear.
People unhappy or disappointed the way things are going
respond to any kind of positive evaluation as a denial of
their feelings of the moment–which, of course, are far from
positive. This explains why praise often provokes such
“You don’t really understand.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you knew how I feel.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“I wish I could be as optimistic as you.”
Acknowledge, rather than praise, and then offer your
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
The following question was posed on the Teachers.Net
Classroom Management mailring regarding primary and
elementary discipline. The editor brought the post to my
attention and asked me, “Are you on the mailring so you can
nip this in the bud with your input?”
“I have a student teacher right now and she asked me a
question about discipline. What kind of personal negative
consequences do you use for your 4th graders school
policies–like sitting on the line or bench at recess?
I am thinking more within the classroom. Do you have a
MY RESPONSE to the editor:
I do not subscribe to the discipline mailring because
solutions to every discipline problem are resolved by
implementing the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL
Therefore, I would continually be repeating myself.
In the case below, I would refer to the 3rd section of Part
III–“eliciting” the CONSEQUENCE or the PROCEDURE from the
DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL above. Refer to
Feel free to share.
Thanks for asking.
Public Charity: http://www.DisciplineWithoutStress.org
6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
I teach grade six in an elementary school. Whenever I have a
substitute for a day or possibly two, my students go
“crazy.” There are severe fights between one another,
insubordination to the substitute, and in general they are
disrespectful to one another and the adults around them.
Often when I come back, two-three students have been sent
home or suspended due to their behaviour.
When I am present they are a challenging class, but nothing
like when I am away. I would say they are on level C when I
am around. I have been working with them setting up jobs/
volunteer activities in the classroom and around the school
for them to be involved in. I have been trying to give them
responsibility, hoping that it leads to a sense of ownership
and sense of pride in their work and who they are. But when
I am gone, I come back to a “mess.” I am asking myself many
questions about what I should do next. What can I do about
this? Do you have any suggestions for me?
Thanks for your time.
The attachment was in my substitute teachers’ folder.
GUEST TEACHER INFORMATION
Read to each class at the START of the period.
“This class understands levels of development. It is the
basis of discipline in this classroom. A guest teacher need
not be versed in the system to use it. It is the
responsibility of the class members to maintain their own
discipline. Students know that they choose their own level
of social development.
“If students behave and do the given assignment, they are on
Level C or Level D and should not present a problem. Level B
students are the ones who defy your authority, act
inappropriately, or are not good hosts to the guest in the
classroom today. My students know that they alone choose
their level of social development and accept responsibility
for their choices. I need a list of the level B students so
they can carry out the assignment that goes along with their
choice of behavior.
“Please leave me a list of students who chose to act on
When I returned, I had a conversation with each student on
the list stating that we had a guest in our classroom and
acting on Level B indicated that the student was not a very
good host to the classroom guest. Then I would ELICIT A
CONSEQUENCE OR PROCEDURE TO HELP THE STUDENT HELP
HER/HIMSELF TO NOT BE A VICTIM OF SIMILAR IRRESPONSIBLE
Greetings from Benchmark School in Phoenix.
I have been using your program for over 5 years now and am
still amazed at how wonderful it is. This year I was given
the tough class–the class that no teacher has ever been
able to control.
It was a tough go at first. This particular group of
children has had control of their teachers for years. I am
happy to say that we are now in control. My teaching partner
(not familiar with your program) thought that we were
putting in so much effort and time at the start of the year
to teach procedures and the levels, but the students were
still terrible. I promised her that if she stuck with it and
stayed consistent that they would come around, and I am
proud to say they have.
My partner is amazed at how we spend so much time teaching
now and not disciplining. We have also heard from parents of
students who always made good choices that this year was a
great year because the other kids don’t do what they have
Their children love coming to school because I am not
punishing the entire class for the poor choices of the other
students. I hold each person accountable for their behavior.
Another thing I wanted to share with you is how the parents
reacted at conferences. Many of the parents shared that
their child was acting more responsibly at home–especially
getting home assignments done without fights.
I hear this every year and I believe that because the
students are being guided to be more responsible citizens at
school that they are carrying it into their lives at home.
Thank you again,
Wendy Brady, Benchmark School, Phoenix, AZ
8. SPECIAL ARTICLE ABOUT THE HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The following article is about the effectiveness of the
HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT at
The article is slightly shortened from a recent post by
Kerry at the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS mailring:
I had a neat experience while teaching a grade 7 student at
my newest job at the middle school.
Early this week, one boy mentioned to Darlene (Kerry’s
partner) that he was trying to remember to print every
letter properly–not only when he was working with us, but
all day long–whenever he had to write something in one of
his classes. As a DWS teacher (always on the lookout for any
flicker of internal motivation that can be fanned into a
stronger flame!), Darlene explained how significant it was
that he was CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSING to do this for himself.
Naturally, she happily passed this information along to me
so I could continue to build on it.
When I met with the student on Thursday, I started our
standard “say and write the sounds” by telling him that
Darlene had mentioned to me that he was starting to take
charge of his own learning by choosing to improve his
printing all day long. I said, “Wow! That’s the highest
level of human behaviour there is…to take charge of your
own learning like that.” He nodded and on we went with all
the various parts of his literacy lesson. As it happened, we
finished up everything I’d planned for that day a minute
before his 15 minute time slot was up. Rather than fill in
with some other impromptu literacy activity, I decided I had
just enough time to explain in more detail what I had meant
earlier in his session, when I referred to “the highest
level.” I started to draw a quick DWS Hierarchy on our
little white board, D, C, B, A and explained, while writing,
that human development could be described in four levels.
Beside A, I quickly scribbled, “Anarchy” and gave him the
briefest of descriptions. Then as I was about to write
another quick word next to B, he said, “that’s Bullying and
Bothering.” Well, you could have picked me up off the floor,
I was so stunned! This is the first time I’ve ever
encountered a student (who didn’t attend my own elementary
school), who was already familiar with the DWS Hierarchy!
Then I remembered that there was one teacher in this middle
school who had told me a month or so ago that she had
ordered Marv’s posters and was planning to teach her grade
seven classes about the Hierarchy. Of course, this student
was one of hers.
So, on we went quickly to review the higher levels, with his
explaining to me what each was about, and then we talked
about how these levels connected to his decision to print
carefully all the time. By then it really was time for him
to go, so I stood up to usher him out to his next class but
he remained seated. He asked, “Have you ever taught anyone
at Level A?” I sat back down and explained that yes, I
had sometimes worked with those on Level A before. (In my
mind, I thought of a student who came to our high school
with a knife a week ago and two of our grade one students
who (unbelievably!) bit two older students on their arms,
one after the other, on the playground).
Then I stood up again–by then we were really cutting into
the next student’s time slot–but being a rather easy-going
guy, he was in no hurry to leave. For the second time, I sat
back down, to hear what he wanted to tell me.
He said, “I once knew two kids on Level B. Remember I told
you about the teacher who taught me in a little group in
grade 5 and then was my tutor in the summer?”
He continued, “These two kids were on Level B with that
teacher. They wouldn’t do any work at all and they said they
didn’t want to learn anything and they said mean things to
her. But…I just sat back and thought to myself: I don’t
want to be like that. I won’t be like them. I’ll try to
learn something here–and I did.”
And as he stood up to go, now a few minutes late, I asked,
“And what level were you on then?”
“D,” he said as he went out the door.
To me, this is a bit of “scientific” evidence that even a
brief introduction to the Hierarchy can have an impact on a
child. This student’s teacher has only been talking about
the levels for a month at the very most and already she has
had an impact on this child. He is now making conscious
decisions to be internally motivated and he’s obviously
making use of the Hierarchy to make sense of things he has
experienced in his life.
It was exciting for me to witness how one DWS teacher’s
efforts are paying off for this child! It was what we once
referred to on this mailring as a “Marshall Moment!”
Kerry in British Columbia, Canada
More of Kerry’s responses that have been categorized from
the mailring are posted at her blog at