Volume 8 Number 6
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7. Testimonials and Research
MONTHLY RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARNING QUOTE:
Counterwill, as the name indicates, is a natural resistance
to coercion. This newsletter is devoted to approaches that
In order to give a more complete understanding of how a
school can conduct its own staff development of the
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL,” the
“Implementation Instructions” have been posted at
In an attempt to reduce school dropouts while increasing
student achievement, a nonprofit public charitable
organization has been created to implement the DISCIPLINE
WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL. Any public urban, suburban,
or rural elementary, intermediate/junior/middle school, or
high school in the U.S.A. in a low economic area can apply.
The application procedure is at the end of this section.
Learning requires motivation, but motivation to learn cannot
be forced. Highly effective teachers realize this, so they
prompt students to want to put forth effort in their
learning by creating curiosity, challenge, and interest in
meaningful lessons. In addition, however, and especially
with youth in poverty, these successful teachers also create
positive relationships with their students by practicing
positivity, choice, and reflection. These practices are part
of the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model.
If the school staff desires to implement the model, the
school will receive free books describing the teaching model
and free staff development material to implement the model.
This teaching model avoids approaches that inhibit
motivation for responsibility and learning.
Following are 10 counterproductive approaches that are
commonly used. Unfortunately, they are so counterproductive
that they actually exacerbate the increasing dropout rate of
students–especially in low economic areas.
1. BEING REACTIVE
Teachers too often become stressed by reacting to
inappropriate behavior. It is far more effective to employ a
proactive approach at the outset to inspire students to want
to behave responsibly and then use a non-adversarial
response whenever they do not.
2. RELIANCE ON RULES
Rules are meant to control, not inspire. Rules are necessary
in games but when used between people, enforcement of rules
automatically creates adversarial relationships. A more
effective approach is to teach procedures and inspire
responsible behavior through expectations and reflection.
3. AIMING AT OBEDIENCE
Obedience does not create desire. A more effective approach
is to promote responsibility; obedience then follows as a
4. CREATING NEGATIVES
The brain thinks in pictures, not in words. When people tell
others what NOT to do, the “don’t” is what the brain images.
Example: “Don’t look at your neighbor’s paper!” Always
communicate in positive terms of what you DO want. Example:
Keep your eyes on your own paper.
5. ALIENATING STUDENTS
Even the poorest salesperson knows not to alienate a
customer, but teachers too often talk to students in ways
that prompt negative feelings. Negative feelings stop any
desire of students to do what the teacher would like them to
do. People do “good” when they feel “good,” not when they
6. CONFUSING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT WITH DISCIPLINE
Classroom management is the teacher’s responsibility and has
to do with teaching, practicing, and reinforcing procedures.
Discipline, in contrast, is the student’s responsibility and
has to do with self-control. Having clarity between these
the two is necessary for both preventing and solving
Too often, teachers assume students know how to do what is
expected of them. A more effective approach is (a) teaching
expectations and procedures, (b) having the students
practice, (c) having students visualize the process, and
later (d) reinforcing the procedure by having them practice
again. This process is necessary in order to have students
be successful in performing the activity.
8. EMPLOYING COERCION
This approach is least effective in changing behavior.
Although teachers can control students temporarily, teachers
cannot change students. PEOPLE CHANGE THEMSELVES, and the
most effective approach for actuating students to change is
to eliminate coercion.
NOTE: Noncoercion is not to be confused with permissiveness
or not using authority.
9. IMPOSING CONSEQUENCES
Although consistency is important, imposing the same
consequence on all students is the least fair approach. When
a consequence is imposed–be it called “logical” or
“natural”–students are deprived of ownership in the
decision. A more effective and fairer approach is to ELICIT
a CONSEQUENCE or a PROCEDURE TO REDIRECT IMPULSES that will
help each student become more responsible. This can easily
be accomplished by asking people if they would rather be
treated as a group or as individuals. They will readily have
a preference to be treated as individuals and have ownership
in the decision that will help them, rather than hurt them.
10. RELYING ON EXTERNAL APPROACHES
We want to assist young people to be self-disciplined and
responsible. Both traits require internal motivation, but
rewarding behavior and imposing punishments are external
approaches. They also place the responsibility on someone
else to instigate a change and, thereby, fail the critical
test: How effective are they when no one is around? See
External Approaches at http://www.aboutdiscipline.com. The
greatest reward comes from the self-satisfaction of one’s
efforts. In addition, by rewarding kids with something they
value (candy, stickers, prizes), we simply reinforce their
childish values–when what we really hope to do is to teach
them about values that will last a lifetime.
In contrast to these counterproductive approaches, the
DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL uses approaches
that eliminate counterwill, the natural response to
The above list can be downloaded from the website
Application information for any K-12 public school in the
U.S.A. is online at
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
The following is from an e-mail I received.
I am reading the book right now and have already tried some
things on my 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
I’ve always used choices with her. It makes life simpler
with little ones. But I have not always used contingencies.
Saying, “If you clean up, you can go to the park” sounds so
much better and works much faster than saying, “If you don’t
clean up, then you can’t go to park.”
It is so much easier for youngsters to take responsibility
when you communicate in terms that are positive and prompt
them to reflect on the choices they make.
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
Try this exercise:
Smile for 60 seconds straight. Just sit there and smile.
Don’t do anything else.
Do you immediately sense a positive physical feeling inside
you the very second you start to smile? Another thing you
may notice is that you start thinking of fun times and
enjoyable experience you have had.
It is impossible to feel “down” when you are smiling. If
you are still doubting it, just try to get into a sour mood
with a big grin on your face. You can’t do it.
The physiology of this is quite extraordinary. It is wired
into us–as you will see when you read the next section.
If you thought that you had to first feel great to smile,
you could not be more mistaken. Smile first and you will
feel better. This is a different concept of “behaviorism.”
Although “behaviorism” in psychological terms usually refers
to a “stimulus-response” approach, it can also mean–as in
this case–of BEHAVING FIRST, and then FEELINGS FOLLOW.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
In the seventeenth century, the French philosopher,
Descartes, asserted the supremacy of the mind over the body
when he wrote: “I think; therefore, I am.” This
philosophical concept suggested that the physical body is
separate from the mind.
The concept set the stage for Western philosophy and
medicine. We now know that mind and body are inseparable and
act upon one another. Thoughts and feelings are inextricably
linked to the way a body functions. Yet we are generally
unaware of the countless changes that are going on in our
bodies. What we do know is that a positive attitude will
often accelerate healing and renewal; conversely, a negative
attitude can be a factor in breakdown and deterioration of
mind and body. More startling is the fact that it is within
our power to transform a negative attitude by our self-talk.
When we talk to ourselves in a positive way, we can change
the course of our lives.
When we understand that our thoughts prompt our feelings and
thereby direct our moods, the personal happiness and
well-being that result also affects those around us. It
takes discipline and determination to choose positive
thoughts over negative ones.
Improving relationships with both yourself and others
depends upon whether your communications are positive or
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
Many educators are familiar with the term “normative” as a
testing term. This word refers to the process of comparing a
student’s academic performance on a standardized achievement
test with a group of students who took the test under
similar circumstances in the past.
The test results of the original student group are taken as
the norm. In other words, this group is considered to
represent “normal” behavior on the test–against which all
future students are compared.
In contrast to this type of testing is the type that
measures a person’s growth–that is, comparing a present
performance to the same person’s prior performances.
Comparing a person to the person’s own progress is the most
natural way to measure human growth and learning. At the
beginning of the year, let’s say, a student could not read
“The Cat in the Hat,” do a pull-up, draw a picture of a
person, give a word describing how the youngster was
feeling, or say “Excuse me!” when bumping into someone else.
However, by the end of the year the student could do all of
these things. Yet, this student scored at the 30 percent
level on standardized tests at the beginning AND at end of
the year. This student would be considered a “normative”
failure. But from a growth perspective, the student would be
What grade would you give this student?
6. Discipline without Stress
At the conclusion of the academic year in the U.S.A. and the
start of summer vacation in many schools, it seems a proper
time to review two significant characteristics of the
approaches I recommend that are different from most others.
REACTING REFLECTIVELY vs. REACTING REFLEXIVELY
You are at home and the telephone rings. You answer it.
Assume for a moment that you are NOT familiar with
choice-response thinking. If I were to query you why you
answered the phone, most of you would say–in one way or
another–that the PHONE WAS A STIMULUS AND ANSWERING IT WAS
Now, let’s assume that you are at home watching a television
program that you had been looking forward to seeing. You are
totally engaged in a scene and the phone rings. Would you
disrupt your involvement in the program to answer it?
In this situation, some people would answer the phone–
perhaps because they would have acted REFLEXIVELY. Others
would let the telephone answering device record the message
for them to check the message later. The latter group would
have acted REFLECTIVELY.
Answering a phone is a voluntary act. No one forces people
to react one way or another to the ringing of a telephone.
In essence, the ringing of the phone is simply information.
In the example above, a CHOICE was made to answer or not to
answer when the ring was heard.
The first significant characteristic, then, is the
understanding that with any situation, or stimulation, or
urge, humans have the ability to make a choice–either
reflectively or reflexively. The stimulus DOES NOT CAUSE the
response. In the situation, the ringing of the telephone was
the stimulus. It is simply information that one chooses or
does not choose to act on.
The problem arises only when–by extrapolation–we assume
that the ringing of a telephone, answering the ringing of a
doorbell, or stopping at a red light CAUSED our reaction.
This psychology of “stimulus-response” is believed by many
as the way to control or influence others.
To borrow from Stephen Covey in his “The 8th Habit” (page
16), the “carrot-and-stick motivational philosophy–the
Great Jackass technique that motivates with a carrot in
front (reward) and drives with a stick from behind (fear and
punishment)” is a poor way to deal with humans.
CONTROLLING PEOPLE vs. INFLUENCING PEOPLE
Because controllees have low motivation to carry out
decisions IMPOSED on them, as scores of research have
documented, enforcement is both difficult and
time-consuming. This is very evident in schools where
teachers spend so much classroom time “playing police” by
enforcing rules, rather than by teaching procedures and
inspiring responsible behavior.
Controlling people aims at obedience. Except where the
relationship is so strong that the controllee feels that
the control is in his or her own best interest, control
rarely brings either desire or commitment.
Control is only temporary. In the final analysis, people
change themselves. The most effective way to actuate change
in others is through enlightened leadership. This type of
leader leads through the vision they project and the manner
in which they deal with others.
Successful leaders empower, not overpower. They are
positive, not negative. They encourage others by sharing
their expectations, not by telling others what to do. These
leaders treat people with dignity and respect knowing that,
in the vast majority of cases, people will reflect on their
own choices and make ones that meet the leaders’
I signed up for your e-zine at the conference in
Bakersfield, California, on May 21. I started the program
immediately and can say that I am most pleased with the
results. I do have a well-behaved and trusting class, with
the exception of a few. It was so nice to be able to
discipline in such a non-threatening manner. The kids took
to it like a fish takes to water. Even though we only have
two weeks of school left, I wanted to implement this so I am
familiar with the process when school begins in August.
Thanks for filling in the missing piece that truly separates
the behavior from the child.