Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – October 2008

Volume 8 Number 10


NOTE: This issue is longer than usual because of the special article for elementary teachers and parents of young children.

1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research

8. Special Article for Elementary Teachers and Parents



Dear Dr. Marshall,

Thank you for all your monthly letters and invaluable
advice. The “Raise Responsibility” approach has been the
best class management approach I have ever used in 28 years
of teaching.

Granted that “low socioeconomic” levels may be short on
values and behavior clarification resources, other
socioeconomic levels may be just as needy. Presently, our
whole society is plagued with values confusion–hence, the
inappropriate behaviors. Undesirable behaviors (Levels A and
B) are prevalent and rampant in our society. The news
provides us with endless examples of this. It seems apparent
that our whole society is now in need of “raising
responsibility” and of becoming more conscious of choices
made so that our society as a whole does not feel the
negative effects. Therefore, a school doesn’t need to just
have the excuse of having “one low socioeconomic student” to
approve your wonderful program. We’ve earned the right to
use your program in all schools, based on the current level
of responsibility in our society. As you advise,
“responsibility only becomes effective when voluntarily
taken.” It is by “reflecting” upon our choices that we
develop responsibility, and our students do welcome this
important phase of your program.

Helping to promote responsible behavior through reflection,

Mary Munoz Boca Raton, Florida


After receiving this communication, the public benefit
organization, “Discipline Without Stress, Inc.,” eliminated
the “low economic” requirement. Any school in the United
States can now apply for the free materials described at



My friend in Texas, Dr. James Sutton, has put together a
monthly publication on dealing with oppositional defiant
behavior in young people, the “ODD (Oppositional Defiant
Disorder) Management Digest.” It contains insights and ideas
that can be implemented by parents, teachers and counselors.
(There’s even a free e-booklet available in the October

Jim is affectionately known as “The Defiance Doctor” in
training circles and writes and speaks with authority on
this subject. For a free subscription to the ODD Management
Digest go to:
http://www.trafficwave.net/lcp/docspeak/digest. You can also
access it by going to his website and clicking on the
sign-up link on his homepage: http://www.docspeak.com.

Note: It’s best to sign up for the ODD Management Digest
with other than a school e-mail. School districts often have
filters that remove communications that are NOT spam.


For those who work with this type of child, be sure to read
the special section 8 – SPECIAL ARTICLE FOR ELEMENTARY


Although the intentions are admirable, GIVING

The following is from a post at:

I just wanted to quickly relay a rewards-based disaster.

One of our seventh graders, in fact, the daughter of a
teacher, recently wanted to go to the Positive Behavior
Support (PBS) reward dance. She is an A honor roll student,
never a discipline problem, and a wonderful kid. In the
haste of “bribing” misbehaving students to be good, we
neglected to “reward” her for doing what she had motivated
herself to do. Long story short, she did not have enough PBS
tickets to go to the dance. How horrible!

Looks like rewards systems don’t quite cover the good kids
as well as they should. Good thing that they are
intrinsically motivated and feel good about the fact that
they are great kids and their teachers love them!

The following was a mailring response post:

Your experience really points out what I think is a big
problem with any reward based behaviour program–the fact
that the goal of the program (often not clearly stated) is
simply to get kids to behave. When the goal is obedience,
then the program isn’t truly too worried about the kids who
are already obedient. Then things happen–just as they did
in your school where a wonderful child is left feeling
terrible. Of course, no one intended for that to happen but
still that’s often the result.

That’s why I feel so strongly about DISCIPLINE WITHOUT
STRESS. The goal is to raise everyone, not just those who
are a big problem–so the program can focus on all kids.
That’s what I love: EVERY kid gains. Some gain by bringing
themselves up to Level C, while those who are already there
gain, too. They learn about Level D, which is such a
valuable understanding for living the rest of their lives.
No other program that I’m aware of provides this

Thanks for participating on our mailring!

Kerry Weisner
British Columbia, Canada

The entire article first appeared in the May 2008 issue of
teachers.net/Gazette at

Rewards are manipulative attempt that aim at promoting
obedience, not responsibility. More on this subject is at


Confucius is quoted as saying, “A man who chases two rabbits
catches neither.” Studies of the brain have indicated that
when you try to accomplish two activities that require
focused attention at the same time, both significantly
suffer. The reason is that the brain can only fully
cognitively focus on one item at a time.

Dave Crenshaw, in his new book, “The Myth of Multitasking
(How ‘Doing It all’ Gets Nothing Done)” refers to this
activity as “switchtasking.” The author gently ridicules the
idea that anyone can concentrate on two things at the same
time. What we are really doing is switching back and forth
quickly and inefficiently from one task to the next.

Life is so hectic that the “simplify your life” approach is
still growing in popular demand. One step in this direction,
and to bring increased joy to living, is really quite
simple: Resist the temptation for “switchtasking.”


A man and his wife were having some problems at
home and
were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the
man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to
wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (AND LOSE),
he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5:00 AM.”
He left it where he knew she would find it.

The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was
9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about
to go and see why his wife hadn’t wakened him, when he
noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, “It is
5:00 AM. Wake up.”

How often, when we look back at incidents of poor
relationships, we find them so silly that they become
humorous. Therefore, when emotions overtake cognition, place
yourself in the future and look back at how insignificant
the situation is. This will put the situation in perspective
and prompt you to initiate a resolution to the distress.


If you plant an acorn, it can only grow to be an oak.

Some people look at that possibility in their child–the
acorn they are trying to grow–and say, “Acorn, I believe
you have potential. I believe you could be a giant redwood.”

“I’ll tell you what I am going to do for you, Acorn. I’m
going to work with you. I’m going to be your mentor. I’m
going to teach you to be a giant redwood. Here is a recorded
message from Dr. Norman Vincent Tree. It’s called ‘The Power
of Redwood Thinking.’ Listen to this recording, and it will
change your life. And here’s a book that tells about great
redwoods. Listen to your own thoughts. Think about what you
could do to be more like the redwoods you read about.
Another thing that would help is for you to be around
redwoods. Notice their patterns and what will happen is that
you’ll be more of a redwood. Now here’s an affirmation I
would like you to learn. It goes like this:

“I am a redwood, great and tall. My mighty branches
shelter all. I’m good enough; I’m smart enough. And
people like me.”


Question : What would this acorn be when it grows up?

Answer: A really insecure oak.

It grew with the message that it was not supposed to be an
oak; it should have been a redwood.

Can it be a redwood? Never!

But it could really do well if the expectation and
mentoring you gave it were for an oak–but only if you
expected it to be what it already is.

It’s not how smart you are; it’s how you are smart.

People’s greatest, fastest, and easiest growth always comes
along the line of one’s natural ability.

–Thanks to Jim Cathcart and his “The Acorn Principle.”

6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)

The following is from a post at the mailring

A note to teachers struggling to use DWS for the first time:

I was in your place a couple years ago. I think one common
early mistake is to think that knowledge of the levels,
ABCD, is the “magic key” to DWS–to think that once students
know the levels and can identify their level at any point in
time that all the teacher has to do is ask, “At what level
is this behavior?” and the child will magically move to
level C or D.

The levels are just a UNIQUE vocabulary aspect of DWS that
enables teachers and students to more easily communicate
about types of behavior choices. They also enable students
to reflect silently in their heads on their
past/current/future behavior with descriptive vocabulary
beyond “good/bad.”

Each part of DWS is helpful in and of itself–procedures,
positivity, choice/eliciting consequences, impulse control,
reflection, levels–but the real payoff is when we learn to
keep all the parts going at the same time. It’s a
multi-year learning process for most of us and well worth it
for anyone planning to teach for very long.

A.K., Reedley, California



7. Testimonials/Research

As a student teacher at California State University,
Sacramento, I am required to read your informative book
entitled, “Discipline without Stress, Punishments or
Rewards.” From the very first page, I was very impressed
with the focus on positivity, choice, and reflection and
have already utilized some of your research-proven
techniques into my first grade placement. Thank you for
giving teachers and teachers-to-be the tools they need to
promote responsibility and to help children to develop the
foundation of self-regulation.


Joan E. Grootveld
Student Teacher at Rancho Cordova Elementary School
Rancho Cordova, California

8. Special Article for Elementary Teachers and Parents


The article is a response to a number of posts at the
Discipline Without Stress mailring at
<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DisciplineWithoutStress>. The
posts expressed frustration about the increasing number of
young children who come to school with poor impulse control
and “passive aggressive”–or more recently referred to as
“oppositional defiant”–behaviors.

Notice how the teacher used the combination of PROCEDURES,
being POSITIVE in her communications, offering CHOICES, and
prompting REFLECTION that led to promoting responsible
behavior–rather than to increased stress.


Both parenting and teaching is getting more challenging.
Teachers, in particular, have to deal with more immature

Keep in mind that the main goal for the teacher is to get
Level B students to rise to Level C. Anything higher is
simply icing on the cake but it’s not required or necessary.
It is simply too much to expect that someone who often acts
on Level B can immediately jump to Level D. Keep your focus
on just getting youngsters to Level C–getting them to
cooperate and comply. Level D is something they have to do
for themselves. You can encourage them and inspire them but
you can’t expect or demand Level D. Level C, on the other
hand, isn’t an option; it’s the required minimum you expect
from every student.

Continued operation on Level B is unacceptable. Continued
operation on Level B results in the use of authority by the
teacher. This is something that you would include in the
lesson about Level B when you are teaching the hierarchy. In
other words, people who choose to continue to operate on
Level B–the level of disrupting their own learning and the
learning of others–are in fact giving up their right to
make some decisions for themselves. In effect, by choosing
to continue operating on level b, they are choosing to give
away their power (over themselves) to the person who is in
charge. If the child is continually making choices that lead
to disruptions for everyone, they can expect that the
teacher will have to take over.

We have a little girl this year who is very stubborn and
actually downright defiant in a passive aggressive way.
Right from the beginning of the year she would deliberately
do the opposite of whatever the teacher was asking or
quietly not do anything at all. When everyone is asked to
print certain letters on the chalkboard she would draw
pictures. When asked to get out her calendar binder, she
would get out something else entirely different. Then just
before the end of calendar time, she would quickly take out
her book and finish up what was expected. When everyone else
would stand to celebrate a classmate’s birthday by singing a
few songs and finger plays, she would remain seated or would
stand BESIDE her desk when everyone would stand BEHIND as
asked to do. In the morning, she would enter the cloakroom
but would refuse to take off her coat or hang up her
backpack etc. until everyone else had left. When it was time
to go to assembly or gym class, she would drag her feet
coming from her desk and not catch up with the lineup until
we were halfway to the gym, etc. etc. etc!

Initially it was almost all day long–continuous operation
on Level B. She didn’t really interfere with the others’
learning too much but she certainly interfered with her own.
In the beginning, we tried many things to get her feeling
more cooperative. Sometimes it would work but many times it
would not. Eventually, we just started making a mental note
of all the times in a morning when she was not cooperative
and would not comply with the reasonable and simple requests
of the teacher. Then when it came to a break time–snack or
lunch play time–we would quietly ask her to stay behind
when all the other kids were dismissed. With a few
reflective questions in response to her questions about why
she was still in the room by herself, we would ask, “Why do
you think you”re still here?” When she would respond, “But I
did do all my work,” or “I did hang up my coat and come to
my desk,” we simply asked if she did these things in the
same way as all the other kids or “Did you do all these
things when you were asked to do them?” or “Did you do these
things without a fuss?” Eventually she would agree that she

Then we would explain that our job as a teacher is to make
sure that everyone can learn in the room. Part of learning
well is doing the simple things that the teacher asks you to
do when the teacher asks you to do it. Then we would
explain that we really wanted her to learn well and so we
would help her by going over all the things in the morning
and redoing them in a way that was cooperative. Then we
would actually go through all the things we did that
morning. If she had stood around in the cloakroom and
refused to get her shoes changed, coat hung up, etc., we
would actually ask her to dress herself again as she had
come to school. Then we’d have her go out with her backpack,
put it in a lineup at the door and I would open the door and
welcome all the boys and girls to school. I’d tell her we
were pretending that everyone in the class was there. Then
I’d have her come in and I’d greet her just as I do in the
morning. We’d go to the cloakroom and practice being

After she hung everything up, we’d go to the desk area and I
would do a quick run through of every lesson that we’d had.
I’d ask her as if I was trying to remember myself,”When we
did the printing lesson today and I asked you to get out
your chalk and make the letters, were you cooperative?” If
she had been cooperative in that particular activity, I
would say, “Oh, good, that’s one thing we don’t need to
practice!” Then we’d move on to the next lesson. I’d say,
“When we did binder time, did you get your binder out at the
same time as all the other kids?” Then she’d say “No,” and
I’d say, “Oh, that’s something we’d better practice.” “Boys
and girls, it’s binder time. Get out your binder and put
your finger on one. “Then she’d get her binder out and we
would count the days in school, count the calendar, do some
more tallies, etc.

On we went–a quick recap of the entire morning! I’d return
to the front of the room and I’d say, “Okay boys and girls,
now it’s time to come to the carpet for our work on the
pocket chart.” By this time, she was starting to smile when
I addressed her as if she was a whole group of kids! We
actually have built quite a positive relationship in these
times we spend together at lunch and recess because I’m
bright and cheerful and she’s starting to see the humour in
the situation of a teacher teaching one child as if there is
a whole class present. She started to say things like, “I
don’t know why I didn’t do this this morning and then I
could be outside now.” And I could agree and say that maybe
tomorrow she could think of a better plan so that she could
go outside and wouldn’t need anymore extra practice times. I
say that I notice she’s getting smarter about this every
single day!”

It’s been on and off like this for a few weeks now and every
week it gets better. Mondays are the worst after a weekend
away from school. She still comes in and stands around
instead of doing her chores, but gradually as time has gone
on she is starting to be more and more cooperative earlier
in the day and for the following days. Our practice times
are getting shorter and shorter and she’s getting happier
and happier. When we first met her, she had a sour look on
her face all the time and put most of her energy into
thinking of negative behaviours. Now that she’s complying
more and more, she’s more and more pleasant and in our
noon-hour practice sessions we often talk about this. We
talk about how she’s getting more grown up and becoming a
better student because she’s focusing on doing what she’s
asked to do in lesson time instead of focusing on what will
be something that will different than what everyone else is
doing. As I said, these noonhour times with just the teacher
and the student are actually helping us to build a solid
working relationship, and so I’ve been very diligent in
following through whenever she’s uncooperative. Once we even
had to go over to the gym at recess and redo a bunch of fun
relays. (Keep in mind she’s the only one running in the
relays and I have a whistle and give all the directions just
as I do for a whole class.) This persistence with
discussions–that she will actually be happier when she
learns to cooperate (comply) and that every day she’s
getting smarter about doing her tasks right away–is really
paying off!

So, if I had kids that were rolling on the floor, shouting
rude comments, etc., I think I would do much the same thing.
I would ask them to practice all over again at the next
convenient break because, as I explain to my little defiant
one, “I really believe that you can be just as well behaved
as everyone else and that is very important so you can learn
and so I can have enough peace to teach everyone else, too.”
After a few days (who knows how many it might take if the
kids are really without any self-discipline!), I think it
would get much better because they would start to see the
sense in behaving themselves well the first time. Why do
practice sessions when they aren’t really necessary if you
can behave yourself the first time?

If there were several at once who were feeding off each
other, I might have to ask each one to remain at their desk,
while one at a time, I went through their practice sessions.
Then I would try to practice all as a group, all the time
being patient but insistent that they too can learn to sit
and participate at Level C–even if it takes much of my own
lunch time for a number of days in a row.

When I have one child feeding off another and it’s getting
out of control, I might have to say something like, “The
behaviour you are seeing right now, beside you, (and I
wouldn’t name a name) is this behaviour something that is
acceptable in the classroom?” “Is this grown up behaviour?”
When the child answered “No,” I’d say, “Would it be a smart
thing to copy this kind of behaviour?” “Can you manage
yourself even though someone beside you is not managing too
well or would you like to move to another spot where you can
manage better yourself?” Most often this is enough to halt
the feeding-off-syndrome and it gets the misbehaving child
to suddenly reflect.

Kerry in British Columbia, Canada

More of Kerry’s responses that have been categorized from
the mailring are posted at her blog at