The Raise Responsibility System (Discipline System)

“Unless we can get rid of coercion, we will never make even a dent in the problems of education.”—William Glasser, renowned psychiatrist and author of books including Schools Without Failure, Choice Theory, and Reality Therapy

Discipline Without Stress is TOTALLY NONCOERCIVE—but not permissive.
The adult is always in charge by using AUTHORITY WITHOUT COERCION.

The discipline system is referred to as the Raise Responsibility System because it promotes a DESIRE for responsible behavior. This is different from the usual approach aimed at promoting obedience. Simply stated, obedience does not create desire. However, when you promote responsibility, you get obedience as a natural by-product.

More and more people are using the Raise Responsibility System. For those new to the approach, here’s a quick summary of the discipline and learning system.

Phase 1: TEACHING –  Students learn four Levels of Development. Being proactive by TEACHING AT THE OUTSET is in contrast to the usual approach of being reactive to inappropriate behavior. Learning the four concepts of the Levels of Development is the foundation of the system.

Phase 2: ASKING(Checking for Understanding) When inappropriate behavior occurs, the student identifies the unacceptable level chosen. NOTE: A major reason for the success of the system is that by identifying something OUTSIDE of oneself, the deed is separated from the doer—the act from the actor. The person is NOT prompted to self-defend, which is a natural and the usual approach. This phase handles 90% of the problems because it prompts the person to reflect—rather than self-defend.

Phase 3: ELICITING(Guided Choices) If necessary, ELICITING a consequence or a procedure to help the student REDIRECT IMPULSES handles all behavior/discipline problems. This is in contrast to the commonly used approach of threatening or IMPOSING a consequence.


Phase I – Teaching

Phase I of the discipline system refers to teaching four concepts of the Levels of Development. Being proactive by teaching these concepts before discipline problems occur is the foundation of the discipline system because it establishes expectations at the outset.

Children of Rainbow School is a very small investment with visuals and short stories to teach the four levels. This printable eBook makes it very easy to learn the difference between internal and external motivation.

Levels of Development Poem

Learn Significant Points about using the Levels of Development (formerly the Hierarchy of Social Development).

Compare the life cycle of a butterfly to human development to explain the levels.

To better understand the concepts, view visuals.

Phase II – Checking for Understanding (Asking)

Phase II has students reflect on their chosen level of the hierarchy. Teaching the hierarchy and then Checking for Understanding handles the vast majority of discipline problems. A prime reason is that you can control some else but you cannot change anyone but yourself—and reflection is the most effective approach to induce change. Sample role-playing dialogues and pages of effective reflective questions are in the Resource Guide.

Phase III – Guided Choices (Eliciting)

Phase III is employed if discipline problems continue. When people reflect on their chosen level and continue irresponsible behavior, then authority without coercion is used by eliciting a consequence or procedure. Guided Choices elicits—rather than imposes—and is the most fair, consistent, and effective approach for changing behavior. Additional tips for promoting responsible behavior are in the inexpensive eBook.


PART IV of the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model demonstrates how the Levels of Development are used to prompt motivation for learning and improve academic performance.


Learning impulse control is a key characteristic for success in school and life.

People WANT to be responsible, but too often we use myths and ineffective approaches.
Learn more from users.

NOTE: This site only includes parts from Chapter 1 and 3 of the landmark education book.