Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2009

Volume 9 Number 7


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research



Optimism (a cousin of positivity) is the basis of

persistence. And persistence is the basis of achievement.


The U.S. Army Academy at West Point, New York
had a larger

than expected drop-out rate. Admissions were largely based

on SAT scores and on physical strength. The academy added an

assessment for optimism. When these results were added to

the entrance requirements, the military academy’s drop-out

rate was reduced.

Positivity in self-talk leads to persistence.


The Golden Question:

If I were limited to offering ONLY one question that (1)

would have a positive undertone, (2) that would require

choice, and (3) that would prompt reflection, that question

would be,


Use it. And then enjoy its effectiveness.


One of the most successful approaches to solving

comes from the Native American aphorism: “Before we can

truly understand another person, we must walk a mile in that

person’s moccasins.” Before we can walk in another person’s

moccasins, we must first take off our own. This means to

perceive as with the other person’s eyes, hearing, mind, and


One of the deepest desires of humans is to be understood.

But how do you do it? The “Talking Stick” is one approach.

One reason for its success in solving differences and

problems is that it uses something tangible. The “stick” can

be a spoon, a stuffed animal, or any object that serves as

something that can be held and passed from one person to


When meeting to resolve an issue, the Talking Stick is

present. Only the person holding the stick is permitted to

speak. As long as you have the Talking Stick, you alone may

speak until you are satisfied that you are understood.

To be understood does not mean to agree.

The procedure is that others are not permitted to make their

own points, argue, agree or disagree. All they may do is try

to understand you and articulate that understanding.

They may have to restate your point to make sure you feel

understood, or you may just simply feel that others

understand. If your desire to feel understood is not

satisfied, egos and misunderstandings interfere with


As soon as you feel understood, it is your obligation to

pass the Talking Stick to the next person. As that person

shares, you have to listen, restate, and empathize until

that person believes he or she is understood.

Using this approach, all parties are responsible for one

hundred percent of the communication–both speaking and


Once each of the parties feels understood, an amazing thing

happens. The focus naturally shifts to problem solving.

Negative energy decreases, ill feelings evaporate, mutual

respect grows, and people become creative.


A man was lost while driving through the country. As he

tried to read a map, he accidentally drove off the road into

a ditch. Though he wasnÕt injured, his car was stuck deep in

the mud. So the man walked to a nearby farm to ask for help.

“Warwick can get you out of that ditch,” said the farmer,

pointing to an old mule standing in a field. The man looked

at the haggardly mule and looked at the farmer who just

stood there and repeated, “Yep, old Warwick can do the job.”

The man figured he had nothing to lose. The two men and

Warwick made their way back to the ditch.

The farmer hitched the mule to the car. With a snap of the

reins he shouted, “Pull, Fred! Pull, Jack! Pull, Ted!, Pull,

Warwick!” And the mule pulled the car from the ditch with

very little effort.

The man was amazed. He thanked the farmer, patted the mule

and asked, “Why did you call out all of those other names

before you called Warwick?”

The farmer grinned and said, “Old Warwick is just about

blind. As long as he believes he’s part of a team, he

doesn’t mind pulling.”


Collaboration is an excellent strategy for achievement.

6. Discipline without Stress

If you are interested in viewing a PowerPoint of the

DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS approach, link to the “Media Room”

at http://marvinmarshall.com/media_room.htm

and click on the second link to download the PowerPoint.


I share the following:

I’m glad you enjoyed my success story, and yes, I’d be

honored if you would use it to help others understand the

great benefits of DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS. I’m an

elementary science teacher in Los Angeles, California.

Jillian Esby

Last Friday, three third graders left their homeroom in

route to my class (science) and on the way chose to yell

and scream and play an impromptu game of tag. (At my school,

we don’t walk the kids from class to class, and all the

classroom doors lead outside, so they were coming across the


Upon hearing the commotion, their homeroom teacher flew out

of her room and wound up in front of mine, fuming at the

gall of these kids. Since she got there first, I let her

handle it. She said, nearly yelling, “Which one of you

children decided to act like a preschooler and run and yell

while you were coming over here? I’ll stand here and wait

until whoever it was comes forward!” And of course, no one

moved a muscle because they could see how angry she was. She

went on and on about acting like wild animals, what the

other teachers would think if they saw them, etc. It was

clearly ineffective because after three minutes of this,

still no one confessed. There was a lot of staring and mean

looks coming from her and silence by all of us! I knew the

right way to approach this situation, but being that she has

been teaching 30 years longer than I have, I let her go on.

She finally left it that the kids should all think about

this incident over the weekend, and they would start on

Monday morning by writing apology letters to the other

teachers who they may have disturbed.

Once the kids were in my room, I took a different approach.

I asked what level running and screaming was on. They

clearly knew it was Level A. Then I reiterated that a Level

A choice was never acceptable. But I put this spin on it: I

said that even though some of them had made a Level A choice

already, now they had an opportunity to change it to a Level

C choice by cooperating and taking responsibility.

I explained that no one could make them do this, but if they

choose to, this situation could turn into an acceptable one

by their cooperating. We talked about responsibility and how

once a poor choice is made, we shouldn’t have to wallow in

it forever–that we can make a choice to fix it and move on.

Because the levels are so concrete and understandable, the

kids weren’t dwelling on the Level A behavior any more; they

were working on turning it into Level C. Shortly thereafter,

three kids came up to me and said they wanted to make a good

choice and take responsibility. The conversation followed

from there–“How do we walk between classes? Why wouldn’t we

want to yell and run?” etc. I didn’t feel extra punishment

was necessary because I wasn’t sure they ever understood

these things in the first place.

It was like a light-bulb moment when we talked about

someone’s getting hurt without a teacher around to help

them. Finally, I elicited consequences if this behavior

should happen again, and we moved on.

I should mention that I’m new to DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS

and just finished reading the book. If someone with only a

month of experience can have these kinds of interactions, it

must be good.

Read the book! Implement now, perfect later! It has made me

feel so much happier throughout the day. No more

me-against-them feelings.


(The website for the book is http://www.DisciplineWithoutStress.com/)

7. Testimonials/Research

I borrowed your book from the library last summer and I

loved it! I used your system this year and it worked


Debbie Raphael

San Francisco, CA