Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2003

Volume 3 Number 7


1. Promoting Responsibility

2. Increasing Effectiveness

3. Improving Relationships

4. Your Questions Answered

5. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:

Your Questions Answered

Impulse Management Posters and Cards

6. Promoting Learning


Cavett Roberts, the founding

president of the National Speakers Association once asked, “Whatever happened to

the old wooden bucket?” It was the hallmark of an era. Songs were written about

it. But the romance of the oaken bucket was short lived. It had no permanent

franchise on existence.

The galvanized tin bucket replaced it. Although the tin bucket did not look so

glamorous, it was lighter and cheaper. But even the tin bucket had no

permanence. It was also replaced. The plastic bucket costs less and is still


The bucket companies went out of business because they forgot something. They

thought that they were selling buckets, when in reality they were selling

containers of water. They lost sight of their purpose.

Wouldn’t you have thought that the railroads would have been owners of our

airlines today? They, too, forgot something. They thought they were in the

business of railroading, when in fact they were engaged in transportation.

Again, wouldn’t you have thought that the great motion picture companies would

have become the owners of our broadcasting facilities? They didn’t. Again, why?

The reason is that they considered themselves as being in the picture business,

when in fact they were in the entertainment business.

We have a responsibility to analyze what business we are in–both personally and



Epictetus (pronounced

Epic-TEE-tus) lived and taught in both Rome and Greece in the first century.

Like stoic philosophers that preceded him, he dealt with logic, physics, and


Epictetus taught that adversity introduces a person to oneself. On the occasion

when a situation befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what

power you have for turning it to your use.

There is only one form of security we can attain during our lives, and that is

inner security–the kind that comes from courage, experience and the willingness

to learn, to grow, and to attempt the unknown.

World War II Admiral William Halsey said that if you touch a thistle timidly, it

pricks you. But if you grasp it boldly, its spines crumble.

Security is not what the wise person looks for. It’s opportunity. All problems

become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them.

We know this but we tend to forget that it’s our reaction that determines as

much as the situation itself. It’s not necessarily the problem; it’s how we

handle the problem. It’s how we react that not only determines our growth and

maturity but our future successes.

Instead of thinking of security, think in terms of opportunity. It is so much

more liberating.


We are constantly

making choices–both consciously and

nonconsciously. We are also aware that timing is important.

Here is a simple choice to make when trying to move an immovable

object–and realizing it would be better to revisit the situation

at a later time:

“At this moment, would I rather be happy or right?”.


My problem is my 21 year old

son who has been on a downward spiral for three years. He came home after a half

a year away at college with only one credit. Then he enrolled full time at

college in our hometown the following school year and failed. The following

school year we told him he had to work full time and take a part-time class. He

withdrew from the class near the end and never told us! He is now sleeping all

day and working for a charity part-time, 5-9, when he wants to go in (not

often). He is also the lead singer for a band with a bunch of college students.

They practice a few times a week. They make no money because anything they make

they put back into a recording studio they rent. He is into writing poetry and

writes the songs for them. He seems to think that his summer job as a lifeguard

and swimming instructor (6 years) will sustain him. He pays for his car

insurance, telephone, and student loan but always late. He is always living on

the edge. My husband told him that if he does not go to work at this point he

does not want him going out or having anyone over. Yesterday, he slept all day,

did not go to work, and got up to go to band practice. My husband said, “If you

leave, do not bother coming home tonight. Sleep at a friend’s because the door

will be locked.” My son said, “I have to go because we are doing a show tomorrow

night” and he left. My husband locked the door behind him when he went to work

at 5; yet my son was in his bed when I went up to check on my daughter this

morning. He should have been at work. I have been working on helping my son

become a responsible young man. He thinks we are “too uptight” and should learn

to relax more. “Everything will work out.” He seems to have no work ethic, but

he does have a strong spirituality. I know this was lengthy and maybe not

appropriate to send to you, but I know my son has many gifts and talents, and I

do not know where to go from here.


Always keep in mind that you will not be able to change him. He can only change


The immediate issue is how you can all live together comfortably. Put your

feelings on the table and put two questions to him:

1) What can WE do so we feel

comfortable in our home?

2) What can YOU do so we feel we are responsible parents?

In essence, the discussion will be around what can be worked out so all FEEL

good about the resolution. It is critical that you share your feelings–namely

that you feel that YOU ARE ENABLING him to act in a way that you believe is a

reflection of your poor parenting.

This noncoercive approach of allowing him to help you reach satisfaction will be

more effective and far less stressful than a coercive approach of your

attempting to change him.

Dr. William Glasser’s book, “Unhappy Teenagers: A Way for Parents to Reach Them”

would be a good purchase for you–assuming you already have my book, “Discipline

without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards” at


You can purchase Dr. Glasser’s book from the William Glasser

Institute at 800.899.0688.

Be positive and never give up. Continue to send the message that you love your

son and that you have faith he will live a productive life while having some

consideration for his parents.

From what I infer he is not in danger of hurting himself or others, he acts in a

safe manner, and he has good values. Your nurturing his nature will achieve what

you desire more than any other approach. He has a talent for writing and music.

Encourage him. Let him know that you would like to enjoy his talents by his

sharing with you.

Finally, continue to reflect on the 1944 tune by Harold Arlen with lyrics by

Johnny Mercer” “Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”



You can share and learn more about the





The only part that confuses me is that if Level C is a level of caution, then

how can we label it as acceptable?–even though I can see that in the hierarchy

it is implicit that it is positive.

I have a hard time trying to explain to kids that this level is acceptable….

BUT WATCH OUT…. it might not be! This is what I’m not sure how to handle. I

know it’s best if the hierarchy is simple and easy to understand because then

using it is straight forward, but since this Level C has the negative aspect as

well as the positive one it seems important to help kids understand.


Use the analogy of a TRAFFIC SIGNAL:

Red = NO (Don’t go.) (Levels A and B)

Yellow = Proceed BUT WITH CAUTION (Level C)

Green = GO (Level D)

AND consider who is directing the traffic (giving directions), e.g., a teacher

or a parent or someone of the same age (peer).

Explain that if a teacher asks, that’s level C–and that’s fine and expected in

a classroom. This would be the same as when a parent asks at home. But when a

fellow student or pal asks you to do something in school or in the neighborhood,

you need to ask yourself, “Is this the right or appropriate thing to do?”

Teach the words “appropriate” and “inappropriate” or “not appropriate.” Even

four-year-olds can pronounce these words–and understand what they mean. Set up

situations for both concepts–positive and negative.

Examples prompting appropriate behavior–

“GO”on the yellow signal:

Why say “Hi” when you see someone you know?

Why smile back when someone smiles at you?

Why cooperate when someone needing help asks you to assist?

Examples prompting inappropriate behavior–

“NO” on the yellow signal:

Let’s make fun of Billy. He won’t mind. (common male bullying)

Let’s ignore Sue. I saw her talking to Jill, who we don’t like. (common

female bullying)

Let’s eat the cereal with a knife. (Have fun by coming out with some

outlandish examples.)


Learning a procedure to

respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at




article on <teachers.net/gazette> for this month is about the relationship of

thinking and feeling.

Read “Descartes’ Error: I think; therefore, I am.”

The article is at:


The June 27 issue of the

“Public Education Network” featured my May article on its mailing to 45,000

educators. Here is what the editor said along–with a link to the article:



Although mastering subject matter is important, strategies to increase thinking

power are equally important, writes Marv Marshall. Schooling today emphasizes

“correct” answers and single solutions. But in so many situations, it is not how

many correct answers one knows, but rather how one proceeds when one does not

know–as when confronted with problems, dilemmas, enigmas, and situations to be

addressed, the answers to which are not immediately known or readily available.

This is becoming truer every day in the rapidly changing information age.

Students often attempt to solve a problem or analyze a situation without

thinking. The answer may be so obvious that they just say it. There are many

situations that can be dealt with successfully in this way. However, a problem

arises when this approach does not work because the task has become too complex.

For students who are habituated to thinking at the perceptual level, and who

have not developed cognitive tools, such problems appear to be “too much” for

them to deal with, and they just give up. According to Marshall, the inability

to take charge of one’s own cognitive processes is a very large part of the

at-risk/dropout problem–as well as discipline problems.