Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2002

Volume 2 Number 2 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Teachers.net: PROMOTING LEARNING:

How to Achieve 100 percent Student Participation.

 6. Your Questions Answered


 8. Public Seminars

 9. What Others Are Saying About The Book
 How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”


My passion is to foster

responsibility. In my seminars and in my book, I refer to victimhood thinking

and how to teach young people to be VICTORS–rather than victims. With this in

mind, let me share a recent e-mail I received from my sister-in-law, Bobbie


Let’s see if I understand how America works lately.

If a woman burns her thighs

from the hot coffee she was holding in her lap while driving, she blames the

restaurant. If you smoke three packs a day for 40 years and die of lung cancer,

your family blames the tobacco company. If your daughter gets pregnant by the

football captain, you blame the school for poor sex education.

If a neighbor crashes into a

tree while driving home drunk, he blames the bartender. If a cousin gets AIDS

because the needle he used to shoot up with heroin was dirty, he blames the

government for not providing clean ones.

If your grandchildren are

brats without manners, you blame television. If your friend is shot by a

deranged madman, you blame the gun manufacturer. And if a crazed person breaks

into the cockpit and tries to kill the pilot at 35,000 feet, and the passengers

kill him instead, the mother of the deceased blames the airline.

So if I die while writing

about how to promote responsibility, I want you to blame my computer.


I thought to keep in mind in

promoting responsibility with the young is not to do something for them that

they can do for themselves.

When we want the young person to do something and he

or she does not, oftentimes stress is induced–on the adult. The youngster is

aware of your emotions and (nonconsciously) derives a sense of power from it.

What he is doing–or not doing–is seen as directing your emotions.

Let’s assume the youngster

has a number of things to do and is laxidazical about doing them. You remind the

youngster–to no avail. Time passes. Another reminder is forthcoming with the

same result.

Rather than become

increasingly stressed, have a chat. The conversation will revolve around those

things which are to be done by the youngser. After listing them, establish a

procedure for each. I mean VERY SPECIFIC procedures.

If the task is homework, the

procedure lists exactly what and when preparations start and how the task will

be handled. A list is made which includes starting time, location, and necessary

materials to be on hand.

If other activities precede

homework, they are also listed–again including specifics. If the activity

before starting homework is play of some kind, items such as starting time for

cleanup and what criteria will be used to determine when cleanup is satisfactory

are listed.

The plan and list should be

ELICITED FROM THE YOUNGSTER. This ensures ownership. Of course, the adult can

offer suggestions and prompt further reflection by questions.

If the time for a scheduled

activity arrives without movement toward it, the parent simply queries, “Have

you checked your list?”

If there is not satisfactory

progress, then elicit the consequence from the youngster. The child may show his

stress by becoming emotional. Do not respond to the emotional outbreak. If you

do, you are sending the message, “Get emotional and you can have your way.”

Redirect your attention to something else until the outburst subsides.

Stress is oftentimes a

learning opportunity that promotes responsibility. And since the youngster is

the one whose behavior needs to change, the young one is the one who should have

the stress–not you.


One of the most important

factors that study after study have shown–in terms of what is important to

students–is their feeling/belief that someone in school cares.

A significant factor in

asking a question is that there is an assumption that you care about the person

with whom your are conversing.

When communicating with

others, therefore, instead of thinking of the right thing to say, think of a

question to ask. The sooner you inculcate the mode of asking questions–instead

of telling–the less stressful it will be for you and the more successful you

will become.

Asking reflective questions

prompts the other person towards evaluation of their actions. Here are three

reflective questions which can assist your influencing others:

Is there any other way this

could be handled?

What would a responsible

action look like?

What do you think an

extraordinary person would do in this situation?

Remember that people change

themselves, and the most effective approach to influence others TO WANT TO

CHANGE is through a noncoercive approach. The most effective noncoercive

strategy is through prompting the person to reflect.

Consider: When you do the

talking, who does the thinking? When you do the asking, who does the thinking?


Monty Roberts is a famous

horse trainer–the model for the Robert Redford film, “The Horse Whisperer.” The

trainer conducts demonstrations of how he trains wild mustangs. Monty grew up in

central California and, at age 12, started observing them. He now puts his

observations and experiences with horses to work with humans. As with the

strategies I share, his approach is one of oncoercion to effect behavior changes

and improve relationships. The strategy is in direct contrast to traditional

approaches of using coercion.

Here is how he trains a wild

mustang within 30 minutes in front of hundreds of people.

He gives instructions to the

audience and emphasizes that, during the demonstration, there can be no

movement. He admonishes the crowd that there can be no sound of any kind–that

if anyone needs to go to he bathroom to go then because everyone must be

absolutely still during the training. Monty explains that the horse listens

intently, and any sound can spook him.

The wild horse is then let

into the arena. The horse gallops around the ring 5, 10, 25 times before

realizing he cannot escape and that there is no threat to his safety. The

initial reaction by the animal is one of fear. (Especially with young people,

fear turns into hostility because being afraid is unpleasant.)

The human then puts on a

stance of attack. Monty rears up on one foot, knee bent, arms above his head,

torso crooked, and grimaces by showing his top and bottom teeth. The horse

panics. He gallops around the ring until he again concludes that nothing is

going to happen to him.

Monty returns to his usual


Then the audience, on cue,

simultaneously claps and hollers very loudly. The horse is spooked. He looks for


Horses have the ability to

classify. Classification means putting things into categories–things that are

alike and different. In this case, safe or unsafe.

In addition, as social

animals that live together, horses have a basic need for belonging. They, like

humans, relate with those with whom they feel safe.

After the arousal by the

crowd and looking for a place of safety, the horse turns to and approaches the

human. The trainer softly strokes the horse. The animal sought safety and found


Monty starts walking around

the ring. The horse follows.

A few minutes later, another

man–dressed just like Monty–enters the ring carrying a saddle and blanket.

This man, like Monty, must

also be safe.

The horse trusts the man.

The saddle is put on. The horse is walked around the ring. The horse is softly

stroked. Safety has been reinforced. Monty mounts–and horse and rider continue

walking around the ring.

The crowd goes wild!

Trust is really the

foundation of any relationship. It assumes that you will be safe, that you will

not be harmed.

With people, trust also

carries with it an implicit message that the other person has your own best

interests in mind. That is why we can accept criticism and even anger from those

whom we trust. We know, deep down, that they really mean to help us.

Trust is an interesting

quality because, once it is lost, it is hard to recapture. Many a relationship

gasped its last breath on

the words, “I just do not

trust you any more.”

To have optimum

relationships, all parties must feel a sense of trust, a sense safety. The

feeling must be that harm will not be forthcoming–physically, emotionally, or



How to Achieve 100 percent Student Participation.


article onfor February, 2002, shows how to achieve 100 per cent

student participation. The article discusses how COMPETITION IMPROVES


of posing questions–rather than asking them–brings about a significant

increase in student learning.




Many of the teachers and

students at my high School are operating at the Democracy level. However, I am

used to operating at the Bullying and Conformity level. I became aware this

while listening to you. I will be working to change my approach. If you have any

suggestions, please let me know.


Dear High School Principal,

You have hit upon a

significant point which needs to be brought to the attention of school

administrators everywhere.

Every time you are about to

TELL, ask yourself this question: “How can I say this in a POSITIVE and

ENCOURAGING WAY? Example: “You are right on track. You may also want to consider

x x x x.

Note that telling is not the

same as sharing. Sharing is necessary and is noncoercive. Telling, on the other

hand, connotes criticism. The implicit message is that something needs to be

changed. Although change may be challenging, we often engage in it. In contrast,

no one likes to be told to change.

Another strategy is to ask a

reflective question. Example: “Can you think of anything else that should be

done?” This type of question is both positive and challenging.

Be sure the questions

engender positive feelings, are within the person’s ability, and are reasonable.

I once worked for a supervisor who asked questions that alienated people. His

questions prompted negative feelings because what he was asking was


Asking reflective questions

is a skill. Anyone who wants to influence others should practice it. In fact,

asking reflective questions is one of the most important skills anyone can use

to effect change. Reflective questions are noncoercive, do not prompt feelings

of self-defensiveness, and improve relationships.


The failings of using

punishments and rewards to change young people’s behaviors is described on a new

website: http://www.AboutDiscipline.com.


For Educators, Youth

Workers, and Parents



Promote Responsibility and Learning

SPONSOR: Staff Development


California Elementary Education Association.

Request a brochure for

complete information by calling


Burbank, CA March 14

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Sacramento, CA March 19

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   How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”

“Dr. Marshall is renowned

for his expertise in teaching, parenting, discipline, and motivation. This book

proves how well he also knows this new generation as his timeless principles are

remarkably effective in the new millennium.”

Eric Chester, President and


Generation Why, Inc.

Carried by:

National Association of

Elementary School Principals

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National School Boards Association

Phi Delta Kappa International

Performance Learning Systems

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