Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – November 2007

Volume 7 Number 11


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



The following was sent to me from someone who recently

subscribed to this newsletter.

“I am a teacher candidate at York University in Toronto. We

are using your book for one of our classes.

“It is amazing! It seems so easy, it’s almost too good to be

true! Thank you.”


On October 10, 2007, I had the pleasure of presenting in

South Africa. The country is undergoing the most radical

change of any modern country as it moves away from complete

separateness (apartheid) of its various groups of people.

The traditional South African approach of dealing with

problems through consultation and bargaining and of

resolving disputes through negotiation is readily apparent

in this dynamic country. There are 11 official languages. It

is the only country with three (3) capital cities: Cape Town

(legislature), Pretoria (executive), and Bloemfontein


Challenges that other countries confront simply SHRINK when

compared to the challenges of the Republic of South Africa.


Each time you coerce someone into doing something by using

your power of authority, you deprive that person of an

opportunity to become more responsible.


VERBAL messages are only one means of communicating.

MOVEMENT is another. For example, choose one place in your

classroom where you will stand when you plan to admonish

the class. (The same procedure works in the home, too.)

Before saying anything, wait until you move to that one

specific location. Young people are very perceptive. When

you start walking to that pre-selected location, the class

will immediately settle down. Reason: They anticipate what’s


GESTURES are another means of communication. An example

(slightly edited) was posted at


I introduce the hierarchy of social development using a

chart I made downloaded from the web.



I demonstrate the “picking up trash” example from the book.

My students seem to get the idea right away. I mention that

levels ABOVE the line are “THUMBS UP” BEHAVIORS, and

levels BELOW the line are “THUMBS DOWN” BEHAVIORS.

I don’t go into detail about the levels after that. When a

student is behaving inappropriately, I point to the chart

and quietly whisper, “Is that on a thumbs up or thumbs down

level?” When they answer, I say, “How can you get it to be

thumbs up?”

Now all I have to do is point to the chart and say nothing. The inappropriate

behavior is usually immediately abandoned.


After presenting in
Adelaide, Australia (a lovely and very

enjoyable city), I went shopping with my wife. Fortunately,

as you will read, I forgot to bring a book.

While waiting for my wife, I spotted a bookstore and

purchased a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND

INFLUENCE PEOPLE.” Originally published in 1936, the book

went on to become one of the best-selling books of all time

and made Carnegie an international celebrity.

His book was used as the text in my first college speech

course, and because it had been years since I first read it,

I decided to re-read it.

Carnegie had a gift for expressing profound truths in simple

but profound ways. A perfect example is his “SIX WAYS TO


Principle 1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

Principle 2. Smile.

Principle 3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person

the sweetest and most important sound in any


NOTE: It is critical, however, to find and

call the person the name that the person WANTS

to be called. Oswald hates his name but loves

“Ozzie.” Mel feels the same way about Melvin.

Mortimer wants to be called “Mort.” Barbara

prefers “Barb.” Patricia prefers “Pat.”

POINT: ALWAYS start by asking the name that the

person WANTS to be called; if you don’t–even

with your best of intentions–you may alienate,

rather than create a positive relationship.

Principle 4. Be a good listener, and encourage others to

talk about themselves.

Principle 5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Principle 6. Make the other person feel important, and do it


Carnegie believed that you could make more friends in two

months by becoming interested in other people than you can

in two years by trying to get people interested in you.


All students have two questions when they first enter any


(1) Will I fit in?

(2) Will I succeed?

Following are two simple ways to empower students so that

their SELF-TALK will be in the affirmative:

For the first, (Will I fit in?) REDUCE ANONYMITY. Start the

class by having students share the name they would like to

be called and have them share one personal fact about

themselves. It can be a hobby, a special interest, how they

enjoy spending their time, a favorite movie, a special

song–anything that others in the class can relate to about

each student.

For the second, (Will I succeed?) USE SOME EMPOWERING

APPROACH. Start an assignment or give a test with material

so EASY that students’ self-talk becomes, “I can do this.”

6. Discipline without Stress

When I recently presented in Sacramento, California, one of

the participants told me that he had attended one of my

seminars in Sacramento several years previously and that he

uses the levels of development in various situations–

including those when he assists the local police. I asked

Frank to share with attendees how he uses the program after

arresting a youth and transporting that young person to the

police department.

Frank starts by being proactive. He explains the levels of

social development, and he then informs the person that it

is the person’s choice as to how he/she will be treated upon

arrival at the destination. Frank explains that operating on

level A or B will prompt the authorities to BOSS the person

–under the premise that the person behaving on these levels

only obeys someone who has or uses greater authority.

However, if the person chooses one of the higher levels,

that person will be treated with respect. As a result, life

will be much easier for all concerned.

Frank emphasizes to the person to be aware that the level

chosen is the PERSON’S OWN CHOICE and that this choice will

have an effect upon how he/she is treated by the police

officers at the station.

Frank wrote me:

If it is a student or a subject I place under arrest, I ask

if the person is enjoying MY being in control of their

situation or whether the person would rather be in control

of him/herself. Most of the time the answer is the same: “I

don’t like this, and I want to be in control.”

I then explain each level and the consequences of choosing

each level.

When they see that their behavior is at the bullying level–

and then that the authority figure must in turn exercise

this level on them–they realize that they really want to be

at the conformity or cooperation level.

I get them to commit to that verbally and then have them

teach me what conformity/cooperation looks like to them.

I repeat to them that they admitted not liking to be

controlled by me or others. They again repeat this answer

verbally. I ask again if they are sure that they want to

control their future decisions.

At this point I ask what did they really want when they

broke the rule or procedure. The answers vary to this

question. I have heard many intimate things in this portion

of the conversation.

Before I leave them, I tell every person with whom I have

this interaction, “You are in control of your decisions. You

are in control of the outcome.”

I ask them to conform for three weeks or 21 days. Of

everyone who has done this, I never see or hear about again.

Frank Spino

Grant Joint Union High School District

Sacramento, California.

7. Testimonials/Research

The following is from a post at


Subject: Start of the year – self-reflection from a newbie

What a difference this year! By taking this approach my

relationship with the students is incredibly wonderful. I

have always had a good connection with MOST of my students,

but there were always a few who just hated me. Those were

the kids who were disruptive. This year, it’s different. The

kids know I am about helping them, not about who’s right or

wrong, not about who said so, etc. Being new to this, I may

not do it right all the time, but the kids get my sincerity.

I had to take a medical leave and was only able to tell the

kids on my last day (due to school being canceled). Many

students voiced concern, especially because they didn’t know

it was going to happen, but one girl in particular

represents how this discipline approach has helped me with

my relationships with students.

Go back a few weeks. It was only the second week of school

and two girls were caught by the assistant principal copying

homework from my class. When they came to class, I quietly

gave them a self-reflection sheet. Since they are in

different periods, I was able to speak privately with each

at the end of the hour. In the past I would have done the

stereotypical finger wagging lecture about trust, the basic

trying to say, “I care about you,” but really just

“humiliating you” type thing.

What I did this year was to assure her that I still liked

her, that I knew she knew she made a mistake, that I wanted

to help her figure out other options she had, and I wanted

to help her move up in maturity on the hierarchy. This made

ME feel great. Those things I said were always true, I have

always felt that way, but now I have some tools to actually

make it happen. I felt caring and soft, not shaming and


Ok, now back to telling the kids I was leaving and that day

would be the last day. Guess who secretly snuck around the

room with an impromptu “We’ll Miss You” card and got

everyone to sign it? You guessed it, the girl. She presented

it to me at the end of the hour and gave me a hug. Several

other students wanted hugs, too.

What can I say!