Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – October 2009

Volume 9 Number 10


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Parenting

7. Discipline without Stress

8. Testimonials and Research



If you change the way you look at things, the things you
look at change.

–Wayne Dyer


One of my favorite little books is Darrell Huff’s “How
Lie with Statistics.”

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when reading about
statistical measurements, which the media and many educators
are endeared to and that are mainly meaningless.

1) Schools and students are measured by numbers of right
answers scored on tests. However, outside of school, success
in life is rarely, if ever, determined by right answers.
Success is determined by WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU DO NOT KNOW

2) Whenever I see a ratio without a base (half a ratio), I
immediately discard it. For example, you can have a 100%
increase by an increase of one–when the base is one.

3) 50% of all doctors finished in the bottom half of their


It should be apparent by the title of this newsletter,
my passion is to promote responsibility and learning. With
this in mind and with a smile on my face, I recommend your

The parenting book is on its way to production. The book is
especially written for parents–and helps anyone working
with young people.

If you would like to receive a special 50% pre-publication
discount on the $29.97 hardbound book, send an e-mail to
and type “Parenting Book”
into the “Subject” line. You will receive an e-mail in
November about the book’s scheduled release date in
December. You will also have an opportunity to receive the
discount for single or multiple copies. Books will be
available for delivery around December 25.



I received the following
e-mail that deserves being shared.

My previous principal used the Raise Responsibility System
(RRS) with individual kids–the ones who were the “frequent
visitors” to her office. She introduced them to the
hierarchy and sometimes had them draw pictures of the
levels, just as suggested in the book (pp. 70-72).


She engaged one grade-six boy in a conversation about the
difference between the two sides of his paper. The youngster
could see that the side illustrating Levels A/B looked
chaotic, busy, and upsetting while the C/D side of the page
looked calm and orderly.

She asked him to identify which side looked like a more
“pleasant lifestyle” and he said the C/D side.

She continued by asking him to identify the side which best
depicted his own life. He admitted that his life was most
like the A/B side, which led to further discussions about
whether or not his current choices were bringing him what he
really wanted.

Discussions of the system definitely helped children
move forward in their thinking.



Tom Sawyer was a better psychologist than B.F. Skinner, the
famous exponent of BEHAVIORISM. This theory assumes that ALL
behaviors are prompted ONLY by EXTERNAL sources since these
are the only behaviors that can be observed.

Apparently, Tom didn’t believe in this approach since he
simply influenced the other boys to want to whitewash the
fence. When they saw how much fun he seemed to be having,
they begged him for the privilege of helping him. They
convinced themselves, and they committed themselves to the

Behaviorism NEVER CREATES COMMITMENT. This approach–used as
a method for training animals–has some DAMAGING EFFECTS ON
HUMANS. Unfortunately, behaviorism is still rampant in much
of public education and parenting.

Behaviorism focuses on the EXTERNAL. It completely neglects

This is a prime reason that NEUROSCIENTISTS HAVE DISCARDED

DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS is so successful because it


Accepting another person’s viewpoint may be one of
the most
difficult conversational mindsets; yet it can be the most
rewarding for yourself and for the other person.

The tendency in many situations is to become defensive when
someone does not agree with us or does not see the world
with the same perspective as we do. However, looking at
opposing points of view can be an asset.

I continually check for understanding with my wife. When I
do, I often find that her interpretation on a subject is
quite different from mine. I learn by listening to her

I have discovered that my way may be better for me–but not
necessarily for others. Each to her/his own. But most
importantly, I find learning others’ viewpoints expands my


As children become socialized, their behavior becomes more
similar to their same-sex peers.

A teacher’s biggest challenge, especially in low
socio-economic areas, is to keep a group of kids from
splitting up into two opposing factions: one pro-school and
pro-learning, the other anti-school and anti-learning. When
that happens, the differences between the groups widen. The
pro-school group does well, but the anti-school group falls
further and further behind.

A classroom with 40 kids is more likely to split into
opposing groups than one with 20, which may explain why
students tend to do better in smaller classes. But
regardless of class size, some teachers have a knack for
keeping their classrooms united.

If a classroom contains one or two kids who come from a
different background, they assimilate and take on the
behaviors and attitudes of the others. But if there are five
or six, they form a group of their own and retain the
behaviors and attitudes they came in with.

Understanding how youth socialize can be a significant
factor in designing effective lessons.

6. Parenting

A little tact and the questions you ask are key ingredients
for successful parenting (and teaching).

Kerry made some comments in this regard:

Asking reflective questions is now easy for me but in the
beginning it wasn’t. My teaching partner actually made a
wall chart of the questions in Marv’s book (p. 19-20.)
We could refer to the chart whenever we were stuck. Because
our grade one students couldn’t read the chart in the
beginning of the year, it wasn’t a problem for us to have
these prompts displayed on the wall.

I know of other teachers who initially xeroxed the list of
questions to carry with them as they were teaching.
Remember, it doesn’t hurt for there to be a pause (as you
formulate a question,) when you’re dealing with a discipline
problem. During that pause (while YOU are thinking or
glancing at a list,) the students are naturally prompted to
think about the situation as well.

Another thing my partner did was to challenge herself to
spend one entire day responding to almost anything a child
said with a question. She found this really helped her
develop the habit of “asking” instead of “telling.” Whenever
a child made a comment that required a response, she would
try to use a reflective question.

If a child said (as they often do in Grade One,) “I found a
staple; what should I do with it?” she would reply, “What do
YOU think would be the best thing to do with it?” Of course
they knew!

If a child didn’t know what to do next (because they weren’t
listening for directions,) she would ask, “Is there anyone
in our room who always seems to know what to do? How could
asking that person help you?”

If a child said, “That was a really good story!” she would
inquire “What was your favorite part?”

If a child left a coat on the floor, she would ask, “Do
you see anything in the cloakroom that belongs to you?”

This constant practice got her in the swing of asking
reflective questions. She soon found that questions came
more easily to her in discipline situations, too. It’s
really a case of learning to “bite our tongues.” As teachers
(and parents) so accustomed to teaching and telling, it’s
hard to avoid blurting out whatever we think of saying. We
often try to tell kids the answers to all their problems.
But once you see how effective it is for young people to
think of their own solutions, you’ll find it easier to ask
questions that get them thinking for themselves.

Here’s a link to some of the questions my partner and I have
relied on over the years. They might be helpful to you.


Kerry in British Columbia, Canada

7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)

I’ve mostly had trouble with whole class behavior. How would
DWS or the hierarchy work with a whole class that’s being

View the link at

and practice the procedure a few times while challenging the
class each time for their attention in a shorter period of

Then I would ask the class what procedure(s) can be
developed to help those who have poor impulse control
because they keep on chatting when attention should be on
the lesson or on the teacher.

When the kids come up with a procedure or two, the effect
has been to empower them so that the responsible kids will
help the ones who “need help.”

In essence, the teacher would be empowering other members of
the class to Level D–taking the initiative.

8. Testimonials/Research

We would like to thank you for your presentation yesterday.
(September 16) You held the interest of the participants and
many commented on how relevant the information was and how
it made them think about their present practices. Your
presentation delivered what was promised and we can only
hope and expect that this paradigm shift will be put into
practice. Your exercises and examples were effective means
of conveying the message. We particularly enjoyed the humor
interjected and the activities which allowed us to practice
and reflect on the information.

Elba Vega Coordinator
Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Downey, California

NOTE: The audience was composed of special education
educators, teachers of youth at-risk, and teachers of
incarcerated youth.