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The Concern

A quiet revolution is occurring in educational circles. Parents and teachers have started a dialogue about the role both groups share in helping children learn to become self-directed adults. This mutual concern, also shares a common goal: TO FIND A WAY TO TEACH RESPONSIBILITY AND RESPECT IN LANGUAGE CHILDREN CAN UNDERSTAND. In the past, while both groups wanted to teach self-discipline, an organized way to do this was not available. Parents and educators can now use a common framework as they share the goal of helping  children to grow-up to become self-directed adults.

Early Beginnings

In 1978 educator Dr. Laurel Tanner authored the text Classroom Discipline. She challenged educators to put the word SELF back into discussions regarding discipline. Twelve principles were suggested as guidelines for parents and educators to use in rethinking their roles as disciplinarians, and teachers of self-discipline. Two educators, Barbara Vasiloff and Paula Lenz, with over 40 years of combined teaching experience, accepted this challenge and  made Dr. Tanner’s theory practical.


The results of their efforts culminated in the formation of the 15 self-discipline skills that are used as a framework for making decisions about a person’s growth in self-discipline. This frame-work is the heart of the Discipline With Purpose program. Since Discipline With Purpose was formed in 1984, it has become a nationally acclaimed program that is currently being taught in hundreds of schools by thousands of teachers, parents, and students. After learning about the 15 self-discipline skills a fifth grader remarked “I always wanted to be self-disciplined. I just didn’t know how to get there.”

Don't Just Discipline,
Teach Self-Discipline!


• Rules or regulations established by authorities to help bring order. • The ability “to wait” to Think, Restrain impulsivity,   Delay an immediate gratification of need.
• Extrinsic motivation: What others do to me. • Intrinsic motivation: What I do for myself.
• Needed when others cannot act appropriately. • Skills that can be learned  to help people grow up.
• Needed almost exclusively until a child is developmentally five. • Can be internalized when a child is developmentally five.
• Consequences or disciplinary actions may be the same: for all. • Consequences can change depending upon circumstances, motives and intentions.

Attitude and intention will make the difference in whether children view adults as disciplinarians or teachers of self-discipline.

DISCIPLINE WITH PURPOSE  is based on the following assumptions

1. Cultures flourish when persons in the culture have:
a) A commitment to work
b) The willingness and ability to relate to others in a cooperative manner.
c) Self-discipline.

2. People today, need a renewed understanding of what it means to be self-disciplined.

3. Fifteen specific self-discipline skills can be identified and taught to help people help themselves.

4. When individuals agree on the behaviors expected of self-disciplined person, they establish a framework for making decisions and resolving conflicts.

5. Acknowledgment of the consequences of one’s actions and the willingness to change unhealthy behaviors is a necessary component in any cooperative adventure.

6. When skills, instead of personality traits are used as the standard for evaluating behaviors, confrontation brings about constructive change.

7. Misbehavior is viewed as a teachable moment; a time to talk about missing skills. Skill talk is neutral talk. It does not demean or put-down another person.

8. The measure of effective leaders in any organization will be directly related to the self-discipline skills they have integrated.

9. When individuals demonstrate self-discipline skills collectively, society can be transformed in a positive way.


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