Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – October 2003

Volume 3 Number 10


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Your Questions Answered

6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System


The following

communication–written by Mary Lou Cebula, an elementary school principal in

Warren Township, New Jersey –was forwarded to me. She has given me permission

to share it with you.

A mother called me the other

day to tell me Dr. Marshall’s levels of behavior are working even at home. {If

you have not read Chapter 3, there are four

levels: Anarchy-A, Bullying-B, Cooperation-C, and Democracy-D. The goal is

for students to choose to behave at levels C and D}. Her first grade son is very

tired at the end of each day. On the previous evening he had soccer practice

after school and about 6:30 she was trying to get him to take a bath. He was

lying on the bathroom floor naked and crying, “I am not going to take a bath and

I am not getting my picture taken!” (The next day was picture day.) His mother

calmly responded by saying, “I guess I will have to call Mrs. O’Donnell (his

teacher) and tell her you are at level A behavior.”

He immediately got off the floor and took his bath without another


I share the story with you

because I am extremely interested in any experiences you have had with young

people that are worth sharing. My book on parenting has been started, and I

would like to include personal experiences.

After using one of my suggested approaches with his teen-age daughter and son, a

father recently told me that his relationships with his children had

significantly improved–and his stress reduced. He concluded by letting me know

that his wife is still using her old approaches and now she is the only one in

the family undergoing stress with their children.

In contrast to the first situation, this story is not specific enough to be

included in the book.

Please reflect on any experiences you have had with young people–infants to

young adults–and take the time to share them with me.

If I may include personal information such as your name and/or location, please

let me know in your communication.

Needless to say, I greatly appreciate your efforts to make the book worth

reading. The tentative title is:


3 Keys to Raising Responsible Kids

While Keeping A Life of Your Own

I would appreciate your

reaction to the title and/or any

story you are willing to share.


Thanks you.


I often say in my seminars

that if you believe a youngster is an adult, then punish the youngster as you

would an

adult. However, if you believe that young people are not yet adults and you want

to prevent their becoming incarcerated with the other 2,0000,000 people in this

country, then punishment may not be the most effective approach.

I was reminded of this when I read that 82-year-old Eugene Markovitz passed away

from pneumonia last week. How he handled four youths after punishable behavior

inspired a 1994 CBS television movie, “The Writing on the Wall,” starring Hal


The actual incident occurred on Halloween night in 1988 and attracted national

media attention. As a Halloween prank, four youths struck four sites in Clifton,

New Jersey: the garage of Markovitz’s home, the Clifton Jewish Center, a kosher

meat market, and the car of an elderly Jew. Using shaving cream and blue paint,

the boys scrawled swastikas, stars of David, and phrases such as, “I hate Jews,”

“Hitler should have killed you all,” and “Go back to your own country” on the


Caught quickly, the New Jersey youths, far from being Neo-Nazis, were all 13 and

14 and the sons of a police

officer, a dentist, a teacher, and a banker. The superior court judge was ready

to send the boys to juvenile prison

for two years but first he consulted Markovitz–who, contrary to the views of

other adults, recommended community service–including education about Judaism

to enlighten the boys about what they had done.

Markovitz, who retired last year as Rabbi of the Clifton Jewish Center after 52

years, insisted that, “One must never

give up on young people,” he told Time Magazine in 1990. “In Judaism, it’s

literally a crime to do so.”

Through the boys’ community service–which included sessions with the rabbi–the

boys learned about Judaism and its commonality with Christianity, the Holocaust,

their own multi-ethnic country, and even their own family histories,

which included migration from Eastern Europe. The boys learned about the Nazi

concentration camps and the awful

stigma of the swastika symbol. One boy learned that his own grandfather had

risked his life to hide Jews beneath the

floorboards of his home in northern Holland during World War II–a legacy his

family had never discussed.

None of the boys ever became involved in another crime, and one even became a

police officer in Clifton.


We’re all familiar with the

Nike motto, “Just do it.” If we apply this to anything that can be accomplished

in two

minutes or less, we will be using the “Two-Minute Rule.”

Here is how it works. If you decide that an action can be accomplished in two

minutes or less–then and there–do

it, even if it is a low priority item.

The reason that this approach increases effectiveness is rather simple. If it

takes two minutes or less to do

something that you intend to do anyway, it will take you longer to stack and

track, pull it back, and look at it

again than it would be to finish it the first time you encounter it.

For example, because of my many websites and articles on the Internet, I receive

e-mail in the hundreds on a daily basis. Most of it is spam. Yet, I do not want

to delete it all or use filters because a question posed to me or a worthwhile

message may not get through. So I created my own filter to scan my e-mails in

less than two minutes.

Not wanting to use more than one e-mail account, I created a “Current” folder in

my Eudora e-mail system and added a “Current” icon to the toolbar. When I check

my e-mail, I quickly scan the “In-box” and drag all messages I want to keep to

that “Current” folder–without opening them.

This procedure allows me to leave all spam in my “In Box” and delete all of it

by highlighting them and then, with

great pleasure, tapping “Delete.”

Then I open my “Current” folder and read and/or respond to my e-mails according

to my priorities.

I think of the Two-Minute Rule as Teflon coating. Nothing sticks to it; stuff

attaches itself and quickly slides off.

I do not let stuff hang around if I can dispatch it–fast.

Here is the key to using the rule. When something confronts you (or visa versa),

ask yourself, “How long will this take?” If your response is two-minutes or

less, “Just do it.”


My sister, an animal lover,

recently sent me an e-mail encouraging happiness in this “crazy” world. Sandra

Marshall knew how much we enjoyed our dog, a pug, for so many years. I share her

communication with you. Read and look at it slowly to gain all the amuzing

subtleties–especially the cat in the mirror.



My youngest son has been particularly prickly recently. Even when I try to

express my suggestions in a positive way, he interprets it as criticism. When he

bridled at some comments I made about interrupting people, he really became

upset. Any suggestions?


Being positive is the first principle to practice. Now use the second–the

empowerment of choice, and the third– reflection. Ask him a reflective question

where the options are stated.

For example. ask him if he prefers to go on as he is doing–having people

irritated with him–or if he prefers finding out how he can improve his social


NOTE: This was first posted



edited to show how the parent handled the situation and how her son responded.

He quickly concluded that knowing how to improve was a better option.


You can share and learn more about the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM



Some of my youngsters and their parents were struggling with the word,

“anarchy.” Could I use a short phrase beginning with “absence of….” order?

responsible behavior? Perhaps you could suggest a word/words that would fit and

my young students could connect to anarchy until they develop a more

clear understanding of its definition.


Many share some reluctance to using terms like “anarchy” and “democracy” to

describe the levels with young children.

At first, I shared that reluctance.

These terms seem so advanced, especially for youngsters in kindergarten and

preschool. But the only reason they seem advanced is because we ourselves were

so much older when we first came across these words.

It may be helpful to remember that young children are constantly coming across

new words and abstract concepts. Children absorb new words quite readily. They

have no context for deciding whether any particular word is more “advanced” or

“difficult” than any other. For them, it’s just a new word. After all they

probably already know many abstract concepts like “empty” and “blue” and


Many children like learning new $5 words. Makes them feel grown up, competent.

(NOTE: The above was from was from a post at


Remember that young people’s

brains are like sponges. They can absorb anything. The trick is to make meaning

of what is absorbed to enhance learning and memory.

Break “an/archy” up by teaching that the prefix “an” means “not,” “without,” or

“lacking”–in this case, “without rule.” Teach that “mono” means “one.” “Olig”

means “a few.” Therefore, monarchy (like a king) is rule by one person.

Oligarchy means rule by a few people. Anarchy means that there is no leader, so

people do anything they want–often without any regard for others.

If you use a word other than “anarchy,” my suggestion is to be sure it starts

with the letter “A” because, as time goes by, reference will be made to the

letters only (viz., Level A, B, C, or D). So “absence of order” works–but then

you need to teach what “absence” means.)

Here is an easy exercise to teach the concept of anarchy to the young. Tell them

that for the next two minutes they can do anything they want, but as soon as you

say, “FREEZE,” they must stop immediately what they are doing. Before beginning,

ask them if they would agree to this. Have them nod their heads up and down (in

the usual affirmative manner) before starting. Be sure every head is nodding.

Then say, “Go!” The youngsters will do all kinds of things– including teasing,

bullying, punching, and generally being wild.

After a full two minutes, command: “FREEZE!”

Then have the students congregate to describe the activity and how they behaved.

Conclude the lesson by announcing, “That was anarchy.”


Learning a procedure to

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


A REVISED VERSION of the CARD (not the poster) is now available and has been

posted at


Level C for COOPERATION is in green, as is Level D. Although the goal is for

motivation to be on level D, either of these two levels is acceptable.

Level C for CONFORMITY has been added in YELLOW to remind students to

reflect–to be cautious (as in a yellow traffic signal)–before engaging in an

activity suggested by a peer. This is especially the case when the suggestion

will lead to inappropriate or irresponsible behavior.