Dr. Marvin Marshall's Monthly Newsletter

In This Issue:

  1. Quote of the Month
  2. Reducing Stress
  3. Promoting Responsibility
  4. Increasing Effectiveness
  5. Improving Relationships
  6. Promoting Learning
  7. Parenting Without Stress
  8. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  9. What People Say

1. Quote of the Month

2. Reducing Stress

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3. Promoting Responsibility

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Canadian psychologist who specializes in parenting and working with children. He interprets discipline as being the most successful when positive non-coercive attachments have been built.

For example, if Dr. Neufeld has something he wants a child to do—such as a chore, writing a thank-you card, or doing homework—he makes a request or gives a suggestion by saying, “It would be good if you __________.” He then follows up with, “Can I count on you to do this?”

The approach is non-coercive and promotes a positive way to engage cooperation. Dr. Neufeld notes that this approach is only effective with a child or student who feels some attachment to the adult. He points out that it is useless to try to encourage young people who don’t care for you that they should do something just because you are depending upon them.

Dr. Neufeld's prime theme is that "We are all creatures of attachment."

However, what if there is little attachment between the adult and young person? Using the three practices of being positive, offering choices, and prompting reflection significantly improves relationships and increases feelings of attachment.

Here is another prompt that is helpful with a youngster who has done something that shouldn’t have been done, has misbehaved, or has had to suffer the results of a bad choice: “I know you meant to _____________. What went wrong?”

This phrasing sends the message that you think well of the person regardless of the negative situation and lets the person feel that there was no intention of ending up with the bad situation. It separates the “deed from the doer.” It demonstrates empathy, and it opens the gate for the young person to really think back over the whole issue without getting defensive. It puts you in the position of a coach—rather than that of a cop.

Communicating in positive terms only requires a mind shift. Offering choices is quite easy since choices are always available once you consider that not making a choice is also a choice. However, prompting reflection is a skill and requires some practice. But the skill of asking reflective questions is something anyone can learn. Here are a few starters:

            • If you couldn't fail, what would you do? 

            • What would an extraordinary person do in this situation? 

            • Would you be willing to try something different if it would help you? 

4. Increasing Effectiveness

Don't ever let anyone tell you that people don't change. That's baloney!  An ignorant person will say, “You can't teach an old dog new tricks.”

I like Dr. Robert Hutchins' response to that. As the former whiz kid and youngest chancellor of the University of Chicago, he said, "Human beings are not dogs, and education is not a bag of tricks."

I know people in their 90’s who are still learning because continual learning enhances the joy of living.

5. Improving Relationships

The brain and body are an integrated system. Feelings and cognition are interrelated and have a significant effect upon learning. If you are a parent, you know this. When your child returns home after the FIRST day of school, you may ask “How was school?” You also may ask, “What did you learn?” And you most certainly ask, “Do you like your teacher?”

We know from our personal experiences and through research on the workings of the brain that how we feel has a significant effect upon what and how we think and behave. Therefore, IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IS ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS THAT SCHOOLS CAN INITIATE. In fact, if you want to decrease discipline issues at home and at school, focusing on the student/teacher or parent/child relationship is the best first step.

The three practices of self-talking and communicating in positive terms, of empowering by choice, and of using the skill of asking reflective questions are universal and enduring approaches that improve relationships. All three of these practices are detailed in Discipline Without Stress and Parenting Without Stress.

6. Promoting Learning

I was asked:

“How do you deal with the impulsive students?

My response:

  • Start with a visual like the ones here.
  • Then read about Impulse Management here.
  • If this is important to you, invest in yourself by looking at some of the topics on the menu bar here.

7. Parenting Without Stress

If you find that disciplining your children and fostering a sense of responsibility in them is stressful or unsuccessful, the use of traditional parenting approaches may be the problem. Why? Because traditional parenting approaches—including lectures, rewards, and punishments—rely on...

Click to Read the Entire Article

8. Discipline Without Stress (DWS)

I’ve heard people say that consequences can be set up with students ahead of time. I find this confusing because I remember reading in Dr. Marshall’s book, DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, PUNISHMENTS or REWARDS that he thinks it’s counterproductive to tell students about consequences ahead of time.  Can you explain?

The answer to your question highlights an important difference between the Raise Responsibility System (RRS) and other more traditional approaches to discipline. The RRS system, consequences are ELICITED from the student, rather than IMPOSED by the adult. Imposed consequences are a dictatorial form of punishment.

Aside from being punitive, when a consequence is imposed, the student is required to do very little in the way of thinking. In such cases, the thinking about the nature of an appropriate consequence falls to the adult, rather than the student. This may be the reason that many discipline programs refer to imposed consequences as “logical” or “natural” consequences.

One of the three underlying principles of the RRSystem is REFLECTION.  The practice of prompting SELF-reflection through questioning leads naturally to self-evaluation and to ownership in a discipline situation. Ownership (in other words, “taking responsibility”) is a critical component for changing behavior.

Many current approaches to discipline recommend that a teacher clearly outline to the class, at the beginning of the school year or term, the consequences that students can expect if they misbehave in certain ways.  Statements such as, “Late homework assignments will result in a lunch detention,” or “Hitting will result in a phone call to parents and 10 minutes of missed recess,” clearly spell out the consequences for certain behavioral infractions. This common practice is counterproductive and puts the teacher in the role of a police officer enforcing rules, rather than someone who empowers young people and motivates them to learn.

In addition, if the “advertised” consequence is not something that would overly bother an individual, then he/she might actually feel more inclined to misbehave.  Knowing the amount of risk involved in certain types of misbehavior may actually give some bolder students the security they need to feel comfortable in misbehaving. Uncertainty or now knowing what will happen is far more effective with these students.

IF the teacher felt that if there was a good chance that the individual was likely to misbehave in the same way again, the teacher would then be further proactive by ELICITING a consequence FROM THE STUDENT, prior to another incident. The teacher would express confidence in the student’s ability to follow the procedure that had been developed but would also make a point of inquiring about what the student thought should happen if the misbehavior occurred again.

Then if the same type of misbehavior did reoccur, THE STUDENT would have already established the consequence. By having been proactive, the stress typically felt by the teacher in this type of situation, is avoided. The teacher simply inquires of the student, “What was it you said should happen if you chose to __________ again?” Once a child has planned a consequence FOR HER/HIMSELF and decides to do the same unacceptable thing AGAIN, the youngster accepts the consequence easily (and often sheepishly) because it came from the student, the one who planned it.


I am available to have an Internet session with any group preparing to enter classroom teaching. Leave a message at 714.220.1882 with a name, phone number, and time zone.

My intent is to leave a lasting legacy for teacher improvement using brain-based knowledge, showing how to have young people want to put effort in their learning, improve teacher student relationship, show how to handle discipline problems simply and easily, and reduce stress for all involved.

9. What People Say

Dr. Marshall,

I have to say your Raise Responsibility System makes so much sense. After 17 years of teaching, I was looking for a more effective way to do discipline in my class, and I found your book on Amazon. I spent almost all my Christmas vacations reading your book. I could not stop reading! Next week will be a new beginning as I will present the Hierarchy to them, and I am very excited about it!

- Martin Rodier
(Gatineau, Quebec, Canada)


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Questions, Thoughts, or Comments?

Don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to contact me directly at marv@marvinmarshall.com

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Dr. Marvin Marshall

P.O. Box 2227
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

Phone: 1.714.220.1882
Website: WithoutStress.com