Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – January 2003

Volume 3 Number 1


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Your Questions Answered
  6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System
  7. Promoting Learning
  8. About the book


January is named after Janus, the Roman mythical god and guardian of portals and patrons of beginnings and endings. He is shown with two faces, one in front and the other at the back of his head.

So I start the year looking back with thanks as I look forward to this new year:

  • For the wife who says it’s hot dogs tonight Because she is home with me, not with someone else
  • For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes Because that means she is at home and not on the streets
  • For the taxes that I pay Because it means that I am employed|
  • For the mess to clean after a party Because it means that I have been surrounded by friends
  • For the clothes that fit A little too snug Because it means I have enough to eat
  • For my shadow that watches me work Because it means I am out in the sunshine
  • For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, And gutters that need fixing Because it means I have a home
  • For all the complaining I hear about the government Because it means that we have freedom of speech
  • For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot Because it means I am capable of walking And that I have been blessed with transportation
  • For my huge heating bill Because it means I am warm
  • For the lady behind me in church that sings off key Because it means that I can hear
  • For the pile of laundry and ironing Because it means I have clothes to wear
  • For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day Because it means I have been capable of working hard
  • For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours Because it means that I am alive

And finally…for too much e-mail Because it means I have friends who are thinking of me.


Question-framing mobilizes your perceptions.

For example, if you decide that you are going to buy a four-wheel drive vehicle, you probably ask the question, “Which one should I get?” You can be sure that the next time you are on the road, you will notice Jeeps, Explorers, and Range Rovers in record numbers. You will also start to see articles in the paper and advertisements featuring these types of vehicles, and you may even discover that some of your friends and acquaintances own one.

All these would have gone unnoticed if you hadn’t set your mind on four wheel drives. The phenomenon of seeing what we expect or want to see is called mindset or mental set. Our mental set functions all the time, consciously or nonconsciously. A limited mental set hampers solutions to challenges. As Abraham Maslow explained, “People who are only good with a hammer, see every problem as a nail.”

A critical key to problem solving is expanding your mindset by cultivating an open questioning approach. The questions that engage your thoughts influence the quality of your life. By cultivating an open questioning state of mind, you broaden your universe and improve your ability to travel through it.

It’s easy to talk about having an open mind, but frequently mindsets are constrained by prejudice and emotion. The discipline of opening one’s mind requires learning to separate feelings from perceptions. To make this distinction, ask yourself how you honestly feel about a problem. Ask, “Do I have any prejudices, ego attachments, fears, or limiting mental sets that are preventing me from assessing this problem accurately?”

Feelings play an intrinsic role in any problem-solving process. Intuition, hunches, and gut feelings can be our best allies, but unacknowledged feelings and repressed emotions cloud our inner wisdom.

Realizing that we have mental sets, that our feelings help shape them, and that our universe is restricted by them can be the first step in a more enlightening journey. We have a responsibility to be aware of our own mindsets.


Win as if you are used to it, and lose as if you don’t care.

Aphorism on Tile Restroom

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston, Massachusetts


Dr. William Glasser, the originator of “Reality Therapy” and “Choice Theory,” believes that attempts to change others by using “external control psychology” are doomed to fail.

He refers to such “external approaches” as the “seven deadly habits.” He lists them as: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and rewarding to control.

To prove his point, just respond to the following:

How do you feel when someone criticizes you?

How do you feel when someone blames you?

How do you feel when someone complains to you?

How do you feel when someone nags you?

How do you feel when someone threatens to do something to you?

How do you feel when someone punishes you?

How do you feel when someone offers you a bribe to do something?

Remember that a change is emotional as much as it is intellectual. We know we should or should not do things, but it is only when our emotions kick in that we are prompted to act.

Rarely will we want to do something when we feel bad about doing it. People do better when they feel better.

In short, using any of the “seven deadly habits” destroys relationships and result in resistance which leads to disconnection. Using any of the “seven deadly habits” is not a good way to improve relationships.



I was recently contacted by a reporter from CBS News who was inquiring about the reported increase in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) of students in a major east coast city.

The reporter had heard that teachers are having a frustrating time dealing with students who have ADD, ADHD, and now ODD. How can teachers teach, prepare students for high stakes testing, and individualize programs for all their “disordered” students?


I informed her that the designation of ODD at one time was referred to as “passive-aggressive” behavior but had been redesignated by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994. In that year, the association published their

“DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS – FOURTH EDITION (DSM-IV). This is the main diagnostic reference of mental health professions in the United States.

Designations such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are just that–designations. People who display certain characteristics are labeled. For example if you display inattention, distractibility and/or impulsiveness, you could be labeled ADD. If hyperactivity were included, you could be labeled ADHD.

It is important to note that no biological proof of these designations exists as they do with physiological designations such as influenza, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Although the intentions to label students are admirable, the results are counterproductive to both students and teachers.

Labeling gives students an excuse. Labeling encourages victimhood thinking. And, as indicated, labeling puts an additional, unnecessary burden on teachers. How do you treat these kids? Be positive with them, encourage them, empower them with choice, don’t try to coerce them–but influence them through the use of reflective questions–and establish procedures with them to assist in their impulse control.

I then tossed in a little commercial: How to do all these is the subject of my book.


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.


I have your book, and I’m trying to find the best way to approach students who have physically harmed another. An example: One little girl pinched a boy because she thought he was going to pull some books down on her. He almost pulled the books on me.

The three of us discussed the incident and the two students seemed satisfied. I asked the pinched child what he thought should happen and the pinching child apologized. Was there another way for me to approach the situation?


Excellent! You ELICITED from the child, rather than imposed something. The next step is to establish some procedure. Let’s assume the student has the urge to do it again. Discuss what can be done to redirect the urge and thereby manage it.

It could be as simple as standing and then sitting or scratching her head–anything that will redirect the urge.

Have students create adverse situations and discuss options of how they can respond to them. After sharing various choices they can make in the situations, have them practice gasping a deep, long breath. Now have them visualize a traffic signal while imagining the situation while gasping. Then have them picture the yellow of the light while thinking of their options. Finally, have them visualize the green while they decide to go with the option they think will be most effective.

The gasping while visualizing the red light, visualizing the yellow while thinking of options, and the green while going with their choice prevents becoming “emotionally hijacked.”

At the request of a teacher in New York City earlier this week, I taught this “impulse management” procedure to two of her students. I then informed the teacher that when these students become victims of their impulses again, just ask them one of two questions:

(1) “Do you want to be a victim or a victor?” or (2) “Did you think of the traffic signal?” Having students reflect on one of these questions will be quicker, less stressful, and more effective than customary coercive approaches.

Since you have the book, see pages 154-155 for a further explanation of this simple impulse control procedure.

NOTE: I gave each of the students a small laminated card with a picture of a stop light and directions on it. I have not advertised the availability of the cards. If you are interested in them, call Peggy at 800.606.6105 or e-mail her at mailto:orderdiscipline@earthlink.net.


My PROMOTING LEARNING article on <teachers.net/gazette> for this month is about learning and relationships and how the two are inseparable.


    How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”

“This book has great payoffs. It shows how to raise responsibility–a basic desire and need of our society. The quality of family life and school life will improve as the principles of this book are put into practice. School and workplace leaders will make many applications to management practices as well.” Steve Barkley, Executive Vice President Performance Learning Systems A descriptive table of contents, three selected sections, and additional items of interest are posted on the education book link.