Stress Management Monthly Newsletter

1. Quote of the Month

Somebody asked a centipede which leg he started out with when he went for a walk. This centipede thought and thought and thought about it—and was never able to walk again.

Point: Some human actions come naturally. Try to consciously walk down a flight of stairs by putting one foot ahead of the other, and you will trip. Such is the case with young people learning how to talk. Call attention to their stumbles and you will soon develop a perfectionist—or in this situation a stutterer.

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2. Stress Management Video

"3 Tips on How to Avoid Trump Election Stress"

With so much political divisiveness in the US today, here is one of my early videos that may assist in handling the situation.

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3. Parenting Without Stress

Question I Received:

My daughter has a kindergarten student whose mother is in "Parent-Child Interaction Therapy" (PCIT) with him. (The boy is suffering from his parents' divorce and his separation from his father.) He has tantrums several times a day. For example, when asked to clean up his current project and join the class for the next activity, he will knock all supplies (crayons, pencils, books) from the group desk to the floor, stand on the desk, rip down a class display (30 foot timeline of the previous day), and then sulk on the floor.

My daughter ignores him as advised by PCIT and within 15 minutes he cleans up the supplies and quietly joins the class. (We don’t agree with PCIT punishment guidelines). She works hard at attachment a la Neufeld (Gordon Newfeld: "counterwill") and consistently uses your "Raise Responsibility System in her class. Yesterday the boy later came to her during recess and said he was sorry for throwing everything and ruining the timeline. He hugged her and she hugged him back and told him how much she loves and values him. 

My question is, "How do you recommend she proceed in helping him figure out and implement improved responses when he doesn’t get his way? It seems like he will need some temporary intermediate solutions before he is able to respond responsibly. I was wondering about having a tub of pom-poms to throw in a corner and pick up, a pillow to punch. But I don’t know if that’s wise. Your thoughts?

My Response:

My first reaction concerns the use of pom-poms or any other approach aimed at controlling anger AFTER emotions erupt. This is a common approach of some schools of thinking of "letting it all out." My approach is to manage emotions and stress BEFORE they erupt.

My first suggestion would be to review pages 53 - 58 of the Resource Guide.

The procedure should be elicited from the youngster by asking, "What procedure can we develop so you will feel good about becoming more grown-up?” 

The procedure needs to be one that the adult believes will help. Otherwise, keep asking “What else?” “What else?” “What else?” until the adult and youngster both agree on a procedure that will help him resist being a victim of his emotions.

Also, regarding your additional remark regarding punishment, I have no problems with punishment if it is self-imposed. See

4. Discipline Without Stress

Question I Received:

I just learned that we have a staff member who punished a group of 6th grade boys by having them stand with their noses against the wall. I know this is so wrong and against what we believe as a school. Could you give me a few pointers as how to discuss this with the staff member who happens to be the husband of one of the founders of the school?

My Response:

Ask the teacher who used this coercive and shameful approach that if she were a student would she like to have herself as a teacher.

Share a few links with the bullying teacher:

Here are a few other links to share:

Stress Management Tips: Stress and a Hierarchy Poem:

Stress Management Tips: Reduce Stress with a Hierarchy Analogy:

Finally, be sure she knows the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model:
Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model

5. Living Without Stress Tip

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to
Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey

"Anticipation or anxiety can lead to stress. The human mind is so powerful, the connection between perception and physiological response so strong, that the brain can send off the flight, flight, or freeze response by merely imagining a threatening situation. This ability of the brain can be either a source of positive empowerment or it can be an invitation to illness."

6. Improving Relationships

There's been a movement to encourage random acts of kindness. That's great. It makes the world a better place.

However, your relationships are built on regular acts of kindness—not random ones you occasionally may do. Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin, the former president of the American Institute of Psychoanalysis, said, "Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom."

It's also the key to great relationships. Simply ask yourself—especially to your partner—will what I am about to say or do be interpreted as being unkind? If it is, don't do it.

I have been asking myself this question about what I say or how I treat my significant other since we first met. I simply treat my wife as I did BEFORE we were married. Obviously, I treated her with kindness. It's been working for 61 years.

7. Increasing Effectiveness

I've worked with thousands of people and hundreds of teams over the years. When things aren't working as well as they should, people often complain, "He never listens" or "She never listens."

Sometimes the problem is as simple as the fact that people were never taught how to listen. That's unfortunate. Listening is a skill, and it can be learned. You can become an outstanding listener—which will make you a better manager, team player, or family member.

The technique is really quite simple. When listening to another person, single-task. Just looking at the speaker will help you to refrain from switch-tasking.

8. Promoting Responsibility

A mother of a young boy shared with me her frustration. One of her sons was constantly getting up and leaving during dinner, thereby disrupting the environment she wanted to maintain during the mealtime.

I suggested that she think of the opposite of what her son was doing and then that she put her son in charge of that responsibility.

The conversation would go something like this: “I need someone to be in charge of having all members of the family remain seated until dinner is over. Can you do this?

Here, then, is the two-step process:

  1. Put the person in charge of the opposite of what the person is doing.
  2. Articulate what you want and make it a challenge. (I need your help, assistance, leadership, etc. Can you handle this?), and have the person be in charge of it.

People like to be in charge. When in charge, the person performs the appropriate behavior because incongruity (doing the opposite of what the person is in charge of) is very difficult for young people—really, for anyone.

Following are some additional examples that work every time:

  • A primary student does not complete assigned table work: “I need your help. I would like you to be in charge of noticing who at your table completes the assigned work. Let me know at the end of the day who was successful.” (Notice that the phrasing is in the positive; it’s not about who doesn’t complete the work.)
  • The middle school class procedure was to clean and organize desks before dismissal on Fridays. One student continually dumped stuff on the desk and took an excessive amount of time to clean and organize his materials: “I need your help. I would like you to be in charge of the desks by going around and keeping track of whose desk is clean and orderly.” (The student didn’t wait until Friday. He started checking on Thursday.)
  • The high school student continued to come to school tardy: “I need your help. I would like you to make sure everyone is seated on time when the bell rings.” (The student not only started to come to class on time but also improved his appearance and school attire.)

This approach to changing behavior immediately is foolproof. If it doesn’t work, reflect:

Did you think of the exact opposite? Did you use the exact wording of putting the person in charge and phrasing the responsibility in positive terms?

9. Promoting Learning

Question from a substitute teacher:

I was thinking of "traveling" with the ABCD poster and briefly explaining it, but I wondered if that would be too disruptive to kids if I'm only with them for a day or two. 

Any advice would be great! I'm finding that getting good behavior as a substitute is far more difficult than when I did student teaching. I'm looking for some type of philosophy or system to proactively manage the classrooms I "visit" and also deal with issues that arise. For some students, they see sub and they think "anarchy".

My Response:

As soon as you enter the classroom and have the students' attention, say, "I am looking forward to being a guest in your classroom, and I am sure you will treat me as you would a guest in your own home." (You have just raised their expectations.)

Then show the visuals of the hierarchy and/or read the poem.

Explain them and then announce:  "We do not have anarchy in schools. I am confident that you will all be on Level C or Level D today. However, for those who are not capable of showing respect to a guest and have poor impulse control by choosing to act on Level B, then I feel obligated to leave a note with your regular teacher indicating how you treated me. Now, let's have good day!""

10. Resources

Learn that you ALWAYS stay in authority WITHOUT using bribes to control, threats, imposing punishments, or any other coercive or EXTERNAL motivational approach at

11. What People Say

"This is the best year I have had in my 25 years of being a principal.  Discipline has not been a problem this year.  Students monitor their own behavior and make responsible choices without the use of punishments or rewards"

—Phelps Wilkins, Principal, Eisenhower Elementary School, Mesa, AZ

Speaking and Presenting

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For personal COACHING or STAFF DEVELOPMENT, send email to with "Info" in the subject line. If you want a group Internet session at no charge, just let me know your date and time preference using Pacific time zone.

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Dr. Marvin Marshall

PO Box 11
Cypress, CA


Phone: 1.714.220.1882