Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2002

Volume 2 Number 7 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Your Questions Answered

 6. Teachers.net: PROMOTING LEARNING:

Reflections from last year–working with teachers and schools

from Los Angeles to New York City

 7. The Shortcomings of Punishments and Rewards

– Tips for Parents

 8. What Others Are Saying about the Book:


How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”


My wife and I have lived in

the same house since 1968. We have seen children grow, move, become married, and

visit their parents now with their own children. We have also welcomed new

neighbors and seen a new generation of children grow.

Yet, I can’t say that I ever

really knew many in our neighborhood–perhaps with the exception of my immediate

neighbors. A few years ago, a newly arrived family decided to hold a Christmas

party and invite the neighbors. That one party was the beginning of community.

We now hold neighborhood parties five times a year.

On Thursday of last week,

the street was blocked off (with a police permit), and the entire block

participated in a neighborhood chili cook-off, barbecue, and 4th of July


Later this evening, my wife

and I will be spending some time with a newly arrived couple–eight houses away

and across the street.

As in so many things in

life, it only took one person’s initiative to start. Thank you Jackie Fritz.


A man drove on a long and

lonely unpaved road in Arizona on his way to watch Hopi Indian ceremonial

dances. Afterwards, he returned to his car only to find that it had a flat tire.

He replaced it with the spare and drove to the only service station on the Hopi


As he stepped out of his

car, he heard the hissing of another tire going flat.

“Do you fix flats?” he

inquired of the attendant.

“Yes,” came the answer.

“How much do you charge?” he


With a twinkle in his eye,

the man replied, “What difference does it make?”

This is what is called a

“Hobson’s Choice,” named after Thomas Hobson (1544-1631) of Cambridge, England.

Hobson kept a livery stable and required every customer to take either the horse

nearest the stable door or none at all.

In essence, a Hobson’s

choice is a situation that forces a person to accept whatever is offered–or do


The most famous of Hobson’s

choices was made in 1914 when Henry Ford offered the very popular Model

T–making it available in any color so long as it was black.

Most of the time we really

do have a choice–even when we say we don’t. We may think we have to do such and

such. When we realize that MOST of what we do is by choice, then we become more


Here is an experiment. For

the next 48 hours, eliminate the words, “I have to” and substitute the words, “I

choose to.” Instead of saying, “I have to get out of bed,” make your self-talk,

“I choose to get out of bed.”

There is very little in life

we HAVE to do. The way you spend your time is your choice. You set the

priorities. You are responsible. You have control. Try the experiment for two

days. Obviously, it’s your choice. If you do this little exercise, almost

immediately you will feel less helpless and more in charge of your life.

Being aware that options are

always available not only puts us in control but makes our life happier and more

fulfilling. We become more responsible when we recognize that very rarely are

our choices limited to a Hobson’s choice. As the sage stated, “Destiny is as

much a matter of choice as one of chance.”


Jim Cathcart (author of

RELATIONSHIP SELLING and the ACORN PRINCIPLE and a sought-after international

speaker) relates how he worked in the mountains in Arkansas repossessing

vehicles when the payments were not made on the loan.

Needless to say, he–and

what he was about to do–were not welcomed by the mountain men. As Jim would be

ushered off the property, he would say, “OK, I’m leaving.” Then he added, “But

look out for the guy who comes next time.”

“What do you mean?” would be

the response. Jim then would describe that, since he was not successful in

getting any money towards the payment of the loan, the guy who would come

collecting next was twice his size and not nearly so nice and likely to be

accompanied by the sheriff.

Somehow Jim would always get

some money toward payment of the loan.

When he moved up the company

ladder, his replacement was a veteran of the Marine Corps. A noncoercive

approach is not the hallmark of these warriors. The former marine used the same

tactics his drill instructors had used on him. Predictably, he met with

resistance every time.

In fact, Jim’s replacement

landed in the hospital for an extended stay only ten days after he was on the


Why did Jim succeed staying

in good health and always reaching his objective of collecting some money while

his successor was unsuccessful in both? The reason is that Jim behaved as a

partner in problem solving and his replacement behaved as a “persuader.”

Need I explain the

difference between a noncoercive vs. a coercive approach?


Listening is the single most

important of all communications skills. It is more important than stirring

oratory, more important than a powerful voice, more important than the ability

to speak multiple languages–more important than a flair for the written word.

Good listening is truly

where effective communications and relationships begin. It’s surprising how few

people really listen well. Those who do are the ones who have learned the SKILL

of listening.

The simple truth of the

matter is that people love being listened to. It’s true in the business world.

It’s true at home. It’s true of just about everyone we come across in life.

Dale Carnegie wrote that the

secret of influencing people lies not so much in being a good talker as in being

a good listener. Most people who try to win others to their way of thinking do

too much talking themselves.

To improve relationships–as

well as your effectiveness– encourage the other person to talk by asking

questions. Let the person share with you. If you disagree with them, you may be

tempted to interrupt. Don’t. You will have your chance to share your ideas.

Listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere. Encourage the person to

express his or her ideas. Be supportive rather than listening with an agenda.

The person will never

forget. And you will learn a thing or two.



My son’s attitude about

school is that he only wants to get by with the minimum. He’ll do his homework

and then doesn’t bother to hand it in. His teachers say he’s intelligent, but

he’s failing three classes. Last year he had the same problem, failing two



From other statements you

have related to me, you are trying to control him. His not doing what you tell

him to do gives HIM control. It is his way of exercising power. He won’t change

if you keep telling him what to do, if you keep evaluating and advising him.

William Glasser, M.D., in

his most recent book, “UNHAPPY TEENAGERS – A Way for Parents and Teachers to

Reach Them” (William Glasser Institute – 800.899.0688) shares a dialog:

“What do most people do when

you try to control them?”

“They resist.”

“What happens to the

relationship between them and the people they

are trying to control?”

“It harms it.”

“It’s like a contest.

Teenagers do it with parents all the time.” (pp. 106-107)

Your son is doing his

homework to get away from coercive nagging. Since the homework is not in his

“quality world,” he forgets to bring it to school. Develop a procedure, such as

placing a clipboard by the door. He completes a checklist of what he needs for

school and places it on the clipboard. No more reminding.

His intelligence may have

nothing to do with the “verbal-linguistic” and “logical-mathematical” abilities

that most schooling rely on for grades. Schools generally test for information

and knowledge. They rarely assess comprehension (meanings), application (using

what has been learned), analysis (breaking down material so that organizational

structure is understood), synthesis (putting parts together–creativeness), or

evaluation (judgment).

Assuming that you have

checked his hearing and vision and they are normal, encourage him to become

aware of inattentiveness in his classes. Have him keep a record for each class

by dating a paper and making a mark each time his attention wanders during class

time. Keeping a record will help him become aware and focus better. The more

attention he pays and the more he participates in his lessons, the more

motivated he will become.

Jim Cathcart has written a

book entitled, “The Acorn Principle,” wherein he argues that an acorn is capable

of becoming a mighty oak, but it will never become a giant redwood–no matter

how much you push it. His point is to discover your child’s nature and then

nurture that nature.

Discover what your son

enjoys or believes he is good at. Nurture that interest. Your relations with him

will dramatically improve. The most effective way to have discussions with a

young lad is for both of you to engage in some physical activity–walking,

hiking, play catch, etc. Increase your listening and decrease your telling him

what YOU want.


that you are more interested in HIM AS A PERSON, instead of his good grades or

success in school, you will be amazed at how much academic success he will



Reflections from last year–working with teachers and schools from Los Angeles to New York City


article on <teachers.net/gazette> for this month are reflections from the

academic year 2001-2002. The reflections eminated from my working with teachers

and schools across the country–from Los Angeles to schools in Upper Manhattan

and Harlem in New York City.



The shortcomings of using

coercive and manipulative approaches–such as punishments and rewards to

manipulate behavior and telling people what to do–are described at:


The first link is a

one-pager of “Tips for Parents.”



How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”s

“This brilliant work should

be required reading for every parent and teacher. If everyone applied these

practical techniques, we could build a truly wonderful future for our society.”

Steve Kaye, Ph.D.



PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS is 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

The Brain Store