Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – June 2003

Volume 3 Number 6


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Your Questions Answered

6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:

Free Mailring

Your Questions Answered

Impulse Management Posters and Cards

7. Promoting Learning



PUNISHMENTS, OR REWARDS – How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility and

Learning” will be the textbook for an innovative distance-learning, 3-credit

graduate course offered by Performance Learning Systems (PLS) with graduate

credit granted through The College of New Jersey.

Three nine-week courses are scheduled:

Summer course: July 17-September 8, 2003

Fall course: September 15-November 17, 2003

Winter course: November 24, 2003-January 26, 2004

The course utilizes an interactive CD-ROM and an online participant discussion

list to facilitate sharing. Dr. Brenda Barkley will teach the course and can be

contacted at bsbarkley@att.net.

NOTE: This is a public service announcement. I receive no remuneration of any

kind except for the personal satisfaction of sharing the information and having

received many positive communications from people who have completed the course.

A number of school districts

have been ordering the book for both their new teachers and their entire staffs.

If you are a primary

teacher, download the primary poster at


If you are an educator,

parent, and/or in any leadership position, you owe it to those with whom you

relate to practice three principles that promote responsibility, increase

effectivenss, and improve relationships.

The keys to all three are in chapter one, which–even if none of the other five

chapters were to be read–would make a wonderful father’s day gift. See



Living is an art, and we

have a responsibility to enjoy it.

An artist cannot be continually wielding the paintbrush. The painter must stop

at times to freshen the vision of the object, the meaning of which the artist

wishes to express on the canvas.

Living is also an art. We dare not become so absorbed in its technical process

that we lose our consciousness of its general plan. We should pause every so

often in our brushwork to reflect and refresh our vision. Having done so, we

will take ourselves back to our objective with clarified vision and renewed



Do you compare crayons?

Comparing is such a natural activity that we become a victim of its effects.

Every time you compare yourself with another and think lesser of yourself, you

fall into the abyss of a useless activity. Your feelings fall with you, and you

have gained nothing.

On the other hand, the opposite occurs when you feel better because you think

you are better than the other person. Your feelings soar. But to what avail?

Does it add to your humanity to know that you are “better” than someone else?

We may never break the “comparing” habit, but a start would be to put some money

in a jar every time you compare yourself with someone. You may find that in a

very short period of time you will have accumulated a small fortune. (Now, that

could be useful.)

Think “different”–not better or worse. (This, by the way, is what diversity is

all about.)

As youngsters use crayons, they should be taught that, although all are

different, they all make contributions. We pick and choose because of the

differences, but this does not mean that one is better than the other.

Which is a better color: red, blue, purple, green, orange, yellow, etc? Because

I have listed red first, does that mean I believe red is a better color than the


As the artist uses colors for different purposes, learn from others, but refrain

from comparing–unless you want to start a savings account.


I will be giving a keynote

in Montana on June 18 and plan to refer to one of its native sons, Buck

Brannaman. He was the horse trainer who advised and worked with Robert Redford

on the film, “The Horse Whisperer.” Brannaman trained Redford and first doubled

for him in the critical scene when the horse was gently taken to the ground so

that the teenager could (if she would) mount the horse.

Brannaman is one of the more enlightened trainers who has discovered that

training with noncoercive approaches is significantly less stressful and more

effective than using coercive approaches.

The following is a thought from Brannaman’s 2001 book, “Faraway Horses” (pp.


Did you ever wonder how a mare can get her colt to follow regardless of whether

he’s hungry or not. She doesn’t own a halter or rope, and she doesn’t pull on

him or otherwise force him to submit. Instead, she uses the herding instinct in

both herself and her colt. She gets behind him and nudges his hindquarters–a

little on the right, a little on the left–and all with just a gentle touch of

her nose. Once the colt’s feet are moving, she slips in front in order to “draw”

his energy with her.

This technique is very useful in a variety of circumstances. You don’t have to

pull or try to dominate. You can apply a little pressure without being

domineering or physical. Once you’ve created the energy, you can then draw it in

the direction you want to go.

If you have not read how

Monty Roberts (a more famous “horse whisperer” trains a wild mustang in less

than 30 minutes in front of hundreds of people click on




This is an embarrassing situation for me. I have a strange problem with my son

that I have never heard about before. He is fifteen years old and has been

stealing my clothes or his sister’s clothing and cutting them up into little

pieces with scissors or cutting our underwear into a thong. We have had him

seeing a psychiatric therapist for over a year, with no

resolution to this problem. He seems to do this without any warning or reason. I

can’t link it to anger at us, although he may just not be expressing his anger.

It seems like an act of anger. He doesn’t talk or express his emotions much at


I have required him to earn the money to buy us new clothing to replace the

items he destroyed, but that has not stopped him from doing it again. Is there

anything you can suggest?


The embarrassment should be his, not yours.

First, go to

http://www.MarvinMarshall.comand click on “Tips for Parents.” Print it and

refer to it often.

Completely stop all forms of

coercion. Have a conversation with your son letting him know that when he feels

pressure from you, he is to let you know–so you will be aware of it.

But keep your standards. When he does something that is not acceptable, simply

say in a calm voice and relaxed body, “That is not acceptable. What do you

suggest we do about it?”

Notice that rather than imposing a consequence you are eliciting one. Also,

focus on a procedure he can use in case he gets the urge again–rather than

focusing on punishment.

If he says, “I don’t know.” Replay with, “As capable as you are, we both know

better. What would an extraordinary person do?”

If you are still not successful, encourage him to share with one of his friends

or counselor what he has done and suggest that they may help him come up with a

procedure (not punishment) which may assist him.

He won’t want to take you up on this. But notice that you have employed the

second principal of “Tips for Parents”: the empowerment of choice.

Good luck and persevere in being positive, offering choices, and asking

questions which will prompt him to reflect.



You can share and learn more about the





I have really enjoyed your book, “Discipline Without Stress, Punishment or

Rewards,” and I have partially implemented it this year, as I didn’t receive the

book until the end of the school year. I plan to implement it fully in my

classroom next fall. However, I have a question. I had so many students who lied

this year. What do you do in situations where the child refuses to admit what he



They lied to protect/defend themselves.

A foundational characteristic of the Raise Responsibility System is that the

deed is separated from the doer, the act from the actor, a good person from an

inappropriate or wrong action. Therefore, reference is NOT made to the behavior.

Reference is made to the LEVEL of behavior.

Referring to a level is “outside” of oneself, thereby negating a feeling or

“need” to self-defend.

This concept of referring to levels needs to be revisited when first starting to

use the system. So is the second part of the system, ASKING REFLECTIVE

QUESTIONS. It is your asking the question that will prompt reflection. And it is

reflection that will prompt behavior changes.

When you have created an atmosphere where students know and feel that they can

trust you–that no harm to them will be forthcoming, that your interest is

solely in their accepting responsibility for their action–the sun will shine,

the birds will sing, and your students will desist from lying.

See number 4 above:



Learning a procedure to respond appropriately

to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at