Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2008

Volume 8 Number 7


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research



Increase the positives and decrease the negatives so that

all students keep their yearning for learning.

W. Edwards Deming.


Some people think that individuality is simply a matter of

being different from everyone else–having a different hair

style, dressing differently, or having an individualized tattoo.

Being really different has nothing to do with this type of

individuality. For example, If you get a tattoo for the same

reason others get a tattoo, then others are influencing

you–and in some cases, directing you. Anyway you look at

it, conformity is at play because that is what is motivating

the action.

It requires some sophistication to determine if what you are

doing is to please others and go along (external

motivation)–or because you believe it is the right or

responsible thing to do. The former is really conformity.

The latter is individuality.


You always have a choice as to how you respond
when a

youngster makes a mistake or does something wrong.

You can focus on the PAST, as in, “You should have been more

careful!” Or you can focus on the FUTURE, as in, “Next time,

what can we do so that your your milk will not spill?”

(Notice the use of the collaborative “we,” rather than



If you talk about what a person did wrong–what should have

been done–the youngster will only resent it (AND the adult)

because it cannot be undone. Focusing on the past will

result in criticizing, blaming complaining, threatening, or

punishing. Any of these will result in stress and negative

feelings on the part of all involved.

You will promote responsible behavior so much more

effectively if you communicate in terms of, “So let’s talk

about what has been learned and how to do it better next


When you do, you will immediately become a coach instead of

a critic.


Oftentimes a person will not be successful because of that

person’s self-talk. Successful salespeople know this. THE


If you are not sold on the product, service, idea or

whatever you are “marketing,” then the potential for success

will be diminished.


Does the greatest pain come from natural causes–or

PEOPLE prompt their greatest pain?

Upon reflection, I believe you will find that a NATURAL

DISASTER or other negative circumstance stimulates us to

think, “What can I do now?” and “What are my options?”

However, when a SOMEONE ELSE does or says something that

stimulates us in a negative manner, we may not think of our

options. We simply suffer–allowing the unintentional,

selfish, or cruel comment to actuate depressing feelings.

So often, we allow ourselves to become victims without even

realizing it.

As I state in my book, monkeys know enough not to chew on

the skin of a banana; they eat only the healthy part. We

humans, however, so often chew on the unhealthy skin. It

need not be.

We have the ability to change our thinking and our

subsequent feelings. I learned a strategy to help me do this

in a very interesting way. When I first started speaking

professionally and for a number of years thereafter, I would

pass out evaluation forms. More often than I had

anticipated, I would read one evaluation completely unlike

all of the others and wonder if this evaluator attended the

same seminar as the other people. (This experience just

proves the quotation in the next section.)

Rather than take a poor evaluation personally, I thought of

how much this attendee missed. I learned that an evaluation

is at least as much a reflection of the person doing the

evaluation as the person being evaluated.

So, if someone communicates to you in a way that prompts a

negative feeling, rather than chew on this unhealthy

message, take what you can learn from it and discard the

rest–just as a smart monkey would do. As my mother used to

say to me, “Always consider the source.”




–Myron Tribus

Our beliefs direct our thoughts, and these thoughts mold our

perceptions. These perceptions then direct our actions.

In 1960, Douglas McGregor published “The Human Side of

Enterprise.” This book was a major influence in promoting

the application of behavioral sciences in organizations.

McGregor studied various approaches to managing people and

concluded that managerial approaches could be understood

from the ASSUMPTIONS managers made about people. McGregor

concluded that the thinking and activity of people in

authority is based on two very different sets of

assumptions. He referred to these assumptions as Theory X

and Theory Y.


McGregor labeled the assumptions upon which the top-down,

authoritarian style is based as Theory X. He concluded that

this style is inadequate for full development of human

potential. Theory X is based on the following beliefs:

1. The average person has an inherent dislike for work and

will avoid it if possible.

2. Because of this human characteristic of dislike for work,

most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, or

threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate

effort toward the achievement of goals.

3. The average person prefers to be directed, wishes to

avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, and

wants security above all.

These assumptions can be seen as goals that are imposed and

decisions that are made without involving the participants.

Rewards are contingent upon conforming to the system.

Punishments are the consequence of deviation from the rules.

Theory X styles vary from “hard” to “soft.” A drill

instructor uses a “hard” approach. A “soft” approach is used

in less coercive strategies, such as coaxing and rewarding.


Theory Y assumptions are more consistent with current

research and knowledge, and they lead to higher motivation

and greater success. The central principle of Theory Y is to

create conditions whereby participants are self-directed in

their efforts at the organizationÕs success. This approach

is most effectively achieved using collaboration, rather

than through coercion.

Some assumptions of Theory Y are:

1. The expenditure of physical and mental effort is as

natural in work as it is in play. The average person does

not inherently dislike work. Depending upon controllable

conditions, work may be a source of satisfaction and will be

voluntarily performed, or it can be a source of punishment

and will be avoided.

2. People will exercise self-direction and self-control

toward objectives to which they are committed.

3. Commitment to objectives depends on the rewards

associated with achieving them. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT OF SUCH


Theory Y encourages growth and development. Above all,

Theory Y points up the fact that the limits of human

collaboration are not limits of human nature but of the

authority figures’ ingenuity and skill in discovering how to

realize the potential of the people with whom they work.

Theory Y is not a soft approach to managing. It can be a

very demanding style. It sets up realistic expectations and

expects people to achieve them. It is more challenging to

the participants–the teacher, the student, the parent, and

the administrator or manager.

While a growing number of people in education use a Theory Y

approach, many schools still tend toward Theory X in

attempts to change behavior, especially when disciplining.

People who use Theory X rely on external motivators to

influence, manipulate, and change others.

In contrast, the Theory Y person uses collaboration and

realizes that improvement comes through desire, rather than

by control. In using Theory Y, for example, errors are

viewed as feedback because this is the key characteristic

for promoting growth and continual improvement.

An old story dramatizes the effects of Theory X. An

expedition of scientists went on a mission to capture a

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Only an estimated 100-200 of this

particular species exists, and they reside only in the

jungles of Vietnam. The objective was to capture one of the

monkeys alive and unharmed.

Using their knowledge of monkeys, the scientists devised a

trap consisting of a small bottle with a long narrow neck. A

handful of nuts was placed in it, and the bottle was staked

out and secured by a thin wire attached to a tree. Sure

enough, one of the desired monkeys scented the nuts in the

bottle, thrust an arm into the long neck, and grabbed a

fistful. But when the monkey tried to withdraw the prize,

his fist, now made larger by its contents, would not pass

through the narrow neck of the bottle. He was trapped,

anchored in the bottle, unable to escape with his booty, and

yet unwilling to let go. The monkey was easily captured.

We may smile at such foolishness, but in some respects we

operate in the same manner. We cling to the very things that

hold us back, remaining captive through sheer unwillingness

to let go. So often people fail because of what they will





person loses freedom. A person becomes liberated when

willing to let go of the coercion and manipulation of Theory

X with its stress, resistance, and poor relationships. The

use of the collaboration and empowerment of Theory Y reduces

stress, improves relationships, and is much more powerful in

effecting change in others.


How a person attempts to motivate others depends upon how

the person views others. If the teacher views a student’s

irresponsible behavior as being deliberatively disruptive,

then the coercive approaches of Theory X will most probably

be employed. Poor relationships and stress are natural

outcomes of this approach.

In contrast, if the teacher perceives that the behavior is

the youngster’s best attempt to solve a frustration or

problem, then the adult views the situation as an

opportunity to help and uses the approaches of theory Y. In

the process, resistance and resentment are reduced, and

effectiveness is increased.

Some examples of Theory X practices that are oftentimes used

by teachers, parents, and leaders are listed at


6. Discipline without Stress

The following is from one of Kerry’s posts at


We had a presentation by a parent at our regular Monday

assembly that gave me a wonderful opportunity to reinforce

for my students an understanding of Level D and the

wonderful feelings that are generated inside us when we

operate from a place of internal motivation.

I just thought I would share this little story to encourage

people to look for everyday opportunities to connect the

Discipline Without Stress Hierarchy


to real life events that are happening in your school and

classroom. For me, making personal connections to the levels

is the best way to influence students to change their

behaviour. I know of no other discipline approach that can

so easily and naturally be used to actually INSPIRE kids to

want to be good people who choose “to do the right thing.”

Our students were involved in a project to help a little

school in Molo, Kenya. One of the parents in our school had

lived in Kenya as a child and she and her brothers and

sisters returned to Kenya for a month-long holiday. It was a

dream of hers that she could connect our school with a

Kenyan school in order to give our students a small

opportunity to develop compassion for others less fortunate

than they. She found information about a school in a place

called Molo that helped street children to attend school.

Here’s a bit of the story of how/why this school was

founded–primarily by Sonia Donnan:


“On my arrival in Kenya I became distressed at the number of

children on the street looking for food. Unlike other

places, most of the street children in Molo were not

homeless, but their families were too poor to feed them.

“On talking to some boys it became clear that although

education was free they were unable to attend school because

they couldn’t afford the school uniforms. I set out to raise

money to try to provide uniforms for as many boys as I

could afford. Having raised the money, I teamed up with a

member of Molo Happy Church to recruit suitable boys. We had

to choose boys who had homes and parents who would provide

food and encourage them to go to school.”


Our school raised money to send to Molo. With some of the

money, we purchased backpacks and filled them with simple

school supplies, soccer balls and letters from our students

wishing the Molo students well. We also put in some of our

older school team uniforms that were in good shape, yet were

too small to fit most of the students in our older two

grades (North American kids today are much taller and bigger

than they were even just ten years ago.) Despite great civil

unrest in Kenya at the time of her visit, the parents in our

school finally managed to get the backpacks and money our

school had raised through to the school in Molo.

Although we received a letter stating that our gifts had

been gratefully received, it wasn’t until the end of the

school year that we actually had further contact with the

Molo Street Project. We were surprised with some student

letters from the Kenyan school, along with several photos of

the 30 students we had managed to outfit with the official

school uniforms that enabled them to attend school for the

first time in their lives. At our Monday assembly, the

parent gave a little presentation in the gym. She taught our

Alex Aitken School students some Kenyan words–“Jambo” means

hello and the already familiar, “Hakuna Matata” (the

repeated phrase in The Lion King) means “No problem!” On a

large screen in the darkened gym, she showed breathtaking

pictures of African animals she had photographed on her

holiday and then she showed the pictures received from Molo.

The first photo showed the Molo kids standing in a long row

holding their new backpacks in front of them. In the second

photo they raised their backpacks to proudly display the

school uniforms we had purchased for them. Then to our kids’

delight, the third photo appeared on the screen. Once again

all the Molo students we had helped were featured in a line,

but this time they had our soccer balls at their feet, and

they were wearing our very own familiar Alex Aitken sports

shirts! Everyone was deeply touched. Children and adults

alike felt enormous warmth inside as our hearts were filled

with the joy of having genuinely helped other human beings.

Most adults in the room were seen wiping tears away when the

lights went back on.

Because the Molo presentation was at the very end of our

assembly, we all left the gym on a very high note and

returned to the classroom. As my students sat down–still

with that Level D feeling present in their bodies–I placed

the small version of our classroom hierarchy on the

chalkboard in front of them and asked them to notice the

feeling of warmth in their chests. I asked them to tell me

the level that was associated with the strong feeling we all

were experiencing in that moment. Many raised their hands to

tell me that it was Level D. Then the child with the

lowest academic ability in the whole class explained that we

were feeling that wonderful feeling inside because we had

done something to help some other kids–“We had done it just

because we WANTED to help them out, and that’s Level D.”

Then I took the opportunity to further explain that people

who know how the hierarchy works understand that they can

actually CREATE this wonderful feeling for themselves. They

know that by CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSING to do things from a place

of internal motivation, they can experience this amazing

feeling–any time they like!

So again, just another little experience from my own

teaching, written in the hopes of encouraging other teachers

to incorporate discussions of the hierarchy into the regular

school day–all year long. The power of this approach comes

from helping young people internalize an understanding of

the hierarchy over time, with the hope that students come to

realize they can rely on the levels to help them make

satisfying and good choices each and every day of their

lives. I truly believe that Marv’s hierarchy is a gift that

we give to our students. I feel so lucky to have found a

teaching approach that provides me with a simple and very

effective way to explain internal motivation to my students

of all ages, even to the very youngest ones.


More of Kerry’s post are available at


7. Testimonials/Research

I am a consultant in Early childhood Education in Chennai,

Tamil Nadu, India. I have been reading and sharing your

newsletters with many teachers. They have helped me a great

deal to guide teachers in improving discipline and classroom



Prema Daniel