Phone: 800-579-8051     email:  

Sticking to Your Discipline Strategy


Here is another great story that my friend Mike Rother shared.  I believe this is an example of what it means to set rules and stick to them, even if the entire school or team may be affected by your decision.

 “I think this was my second season in Omaha coaching a 14-16 year old kid’s soccer team.  We were at the start of the season and I was getting the kids into shape before we started working on some drills.  I remember one of the kids John B. as a good player but also a little outspoken, the one that was a little cocky and arrogant at times.  Anyway, after I had everyone running laps around the soccer field, this young man decided he did not have to wear his soccer shoes and was basically going to do a fast walk instead around the field in his bare feet. The rest of the kids followed his lead with a fast walk pace and sped around the track.  Seeing this, I immediately stopped the kids and had everyone take off their soccer shoes and socks and directed them to continue back running laps around the field, compliments of John B.  At first they all thought it was cool, but after several laps around the field you could hear his fellow teammates complaining to John for taking off his shoes. They complained that the bottoms of their feet were hurting and that they had to take on extra laps.  After poor John B. received enough slack, I stopped them and asked John if he wanted to put on his soccer shoes. He did so respectfully and gratefully, so did the others.  When they did, they thought I would start our soccer drills, but I had them line up again and continue to run laps.  No one said a word and they all continued running around the field as a team.  After a couple more laps, I stopped them and we started our normal practice and nothing more was said.  John B later became one of the best players I ever coached for ten more years. After I moved back to St. Louis, I would still get a Christmas card from John B.”

As you can see Mike, didn’t give in when he made the decision to have all the kids take off their shoes and socks and run the laps; even though they were all clearly upset with John B.

I have seen many parents, teachers and administrators give in when are crying or upset. When you stick to what you say and follow through, in the end they learn. As you can see from the outcome of John B. he likes and respects Mike as a mentor and a leader.

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

A Lesson in Leadership and Respect

I was speaking recently at an event near Atlanta, Georgia.  During the evening social I met a new friend Mike Rother, and he shared several stories that relate to my bully prevention, positive behavior topics and with his permission I want to share them with you.

 Over the next few months I plan to offer up a few of Mike’s stories. At the end I will be giving you some tips and suggestions from those stories you can implement with your student, scouts or team members.

This story took place one afternoon as I was getting my 12-14 year old boys soccer team ready for the fall soccer season.  I remember it was at the beginning of a practice session, while I was assigning kids to their appointed positions so we could play a scrimmage, when one of the kids, who I had assigned to play a defensive position, came up to me with had an attitude. He demanded that he be given the goalie’s position as he was deserving of it over the kid who had been assigned to play that position.  I responded nicely but firmly that he takes the position I give him.  He was a good defensive player as I remember and I wanted to see how he performed as a full-back.  He then threatened me that if I did not allow him to play goalie, that he would walk off and not play. He said something along the lines of “we can’t win without him.”  I told him I was not changing my assignments regarding positions and if he wanted to leave, to leave.  I believe, he dared me one last time while he started to walk away and I just waved at him with a friendly sign of goodbye.  I believe some of the kids who overheard the conversation were stunned by this as he was a strong player.  I watched him walk back to where the cars were parked and where some of the kids kept their bikes.  After that, I diverted my attention and energy to the rest of the kids in coaching them as we played our scrimmage.

 I can’t remember the exact time frame, but it was a good half hour or better when the kid with the attitude came back, walked onto the field and came up to me with a total different attitude and respectfully and humbly asked me if he should go out onto the field now to play the defensive fullback position I originally asked him to take.  Without a beat and if nothing ever happened between us, I said no and that I wanted him to play goalie and while pointing to the net, I gave him some pointers of what I wanted and expected for him to do as our 1st string goalie.  He said yes sir and immediately ran to the goalie net and the scrimmage went on.  Nothing was ever said about the incident again and this kid became the best goalie I ever had.

 In the classroom, during the den meetings, on the field and at home we are going to get tested by our students/cub scouts/team members/children. If we quickly give in to their demands in short run we quiet things down, but in the long run we lose respect. As one school principal put it “we lose our ability to lead.” What Mike did was demonstrate two things. One that he was the leader/coach the one who makes the decisions for the team. Secondly he refused to backdown and the young man as well as the other team members got the message. Being a leader is being someone who is open to suggestions, but in the end, makes the final decisions that are beneficial to the group as a whole.  


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Important Topics for Parent/Family Nights

Recently I read an article about a school that was putting on a family night to help educate the students and parents about mental issues.  It was a free event for youth and families to shed some light on the dark stigma associated with mental health concerns. This is a great topic. It is a message that is needed to help promote understanding and respect. I believe the more we understand and respect one another the less likely are to gossip, isolate and spread rumors.

What really caught my eye was how they had a strategy in place to convey the message and inspire students and parents to want to attend the event.

First of all they were serving pizza. That way attendees would not have stop home to eat before attending the event.

Secondly they asked the teachers to offer attendance at the session as extra credit. If the students brought family members and they all stayed for the entire presentation they would receive the credit.

Thirdly they also put together a raffle with prizes donated from local business. At the end of the presentation they drew the tickets and the people that remained present during the raffle had the opportunity to win a prize.

The topic they were presenting was enlightening and so was their strategy to promote it, bring people in and keep them there. If you’ re planning a parent night or family event you may want to implement some of these ideas.

If you have other suggestions that have worked for your school parent nights please share and I will make them available to our readers.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013


NFL Speaks Out Against Bullying

I was at a business meeting the other day and one of my clients asked me what my thoughts were about the recent reports involving Miami Dolphin’s football player Richie Incgnito. He has been accused of obscenely harassing, bullying, and threatening a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Jonathan Martin in the locker room, via text and voicemail, and elsewhere.

I agree with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis who said: “there is a difference between hazing and hate.”  There is also a difference between positive team motivation and negative team aggression. One of my older friends is a former college football player and at lunch the other day he shared, ”In my time our definition of hazing was the rookies carrying in the equipment or dressing up funny in public.” Today I think some players and coaches have crossed the line when it comes to good team fun.”

At many of the middle schools and high schools I have spoken to about bullying and cyber bullying, social workers and counselors have shared that there seems to be a double standard regarding what is and not tolerated in the school and in the locker room (field or on the court). For some reason, society seems to think its normal behavior for coaches and team members to trash one another.         . As one counselor put it, “the problem is the teasing, threats and harassment don’t seem to stay in the locker room and on the field.     It finds its way in the hallways, into the classroom, on the bus and on Facebook.” This why is many social workers and counselers are beginning to speak out agains negative, disrespectful locker room behavior.

As a bully prevention specialist I see firsthand how hard many schools and parents are working. They are trying to teach their students positive behavior skills only to be struck down by sports figures and celebrities that have gotten away with their disrespectful behavior.

I am so grateful to Jonathan Martin for courageously coming forward and his willingness to take a personal leave of absence from a football team that was working toward the playoffs. Because of Martin’s willingness to speak up, he reinforced what we as bully free advocates have been driving home to every student to “SPEAK UP AGAINST BULLLYING!” 

I am also appreciative to the NFL and Miami Dolphins for suspending Richie Incognito indefinitely from the team for alleged detrimental conduct pending continued investigation of the inherent issues. This helps reinforce our message to the student that if they speak up against harassment and bullying behavior that we’ve got your back.

Other football greats like Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has said, “Great locker rooms self-police.”  This message also reinforces our bully prevention message, “If you see someone being harassed verbally, physically or online you need to say something. Report it and speak up against it.”  Many of the schools that I ‘ve followed up after presenting the bully prevention assembly for their students have reported that when the students follow our instructions to speak up in the hall, classroom, on the bus and online they’re helping  the teacher and staff  put an end to what could end up being an ongoing bullying problem.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Pretending It Doesn’t Bother You

Growing up I remember my mother telling me over and over again to pretend it doesn’t bother you. YAH RIGHT! I don’t know how many times I tried that strategy only to have the aggressor in my face screaming and calling me names. Now he wasn’t only making fun of me he was broadcasting it to everyone waiting to go into school. It was so embarrassing I would run into school just trying to get away from everyone.

Dr. Kaufman, Dr. Raphael and Pamela Espeland in their book “Stick Up For Yourself!” writes, “Don’t ignore the bullying. Bullies want a reaction from the people they are picking on. If you ignore them, they’ll try harder.”

Here are three tools available to a child that may be targeted by a bully:

1) Teach them how to use eye contact. Practice in the classroom and or at home. When they are asking you a question remind them to give you eye contact. The more they practice this the easier it will be for them to look an aggressor or a child bullying them in the eyes and tell them to stop it.


2) Demonstrate how they can refrain from giving the aggressor the response they are looking for. Brain storm ideas on how they can avoid crying, getting even and losing their temper. For example when I was in 4th grade a kid used to steal my hat and throw it in the mud. I used to get so mad and cry. So my friends and I brainstormed an idea to put an end to the bullying. I went to the second hand store and bought of 15 hats. Then next day I put them in my coat pockets. At school when the kid ran up to steal the hat, I would not get mad or upset I just pulled another hat out of my pocket and put it on my head. After about ten hats he stopped, never bothering me again.


3) Start laughing as loud as you can as you walk toward a large crowded place, near a teacher or parent or friends. Just laugh and laugh. I used to do this when a big kid was calling me names, it really freaked him out. Laughing wasn’t the reaction he wanted and he quickly stopped teasing me.Remember instead of telling our kids to just ignore the aggressor teach them how to stay calm and work through it. If you have other suggestions that has worked for you or your children please email me your suggestion at, comment on this blog or on our Facebook page


Also remember from January 20 – 24, 2014 students across the country will participate in the 10th Anniversary of No Name-Calling Week. If you would like additional information on how you can participate email us at

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Here is an article that was sent to me…

The students were awesome!

The students were awesome!

Your Children Are Looking Up to You for Guidance

Parents your children are looking up to you for guidance. They want to know right from wrong and they want to know you care about what they have to say.

Here are some of the things that your children can learn from you:

Respect: Be respectful of other people and they will respect others too.

Hope: Display a positive outlook on life and they will discover how to lighten up a dark situation.

Bravery: Show them you are not afraid to step out of your box and they will be willing to take calculated risks.

Self-control: When someone says something to annoy you, walk away and your child will see that fighting doesn’t solve conflicts.

Self-motivation: Be an example of someone that doesn’t just talk about it, you do it and your kids will too.

Anger management: Be willing to step away, take a breath and peacefully release your frustrations and your child will learn how to do the same.

Most importantly be a good listener.  A few months ago my oldest was having a life challenge and he was spilling his guts to me. While he was talking I cut him off in main sentence. He quickly stopped me by saying, “Dad can you please not talk and just listen?”

“The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and others.” Grayson Kirk

Our kids don’t want us to preach to them or tell them what to do, what they want is for us to give them space, and allow them to take what we have given them over the years and implement it.

“We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual.  The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least.” David P. Gardner

Your child is looking up to you for guidance and support don’t let them down.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Your Kids Need to Know You’ve Got Their Back


The early years and all through the teen years children need to know you love them, you are proud of them and you have their back. Just after my son’s graduation, my wife and I received a letter of thanks. He was grateful for all the positive support, guidance and most of all he was happy to know that we had his back.

Having your child’s back is providing them with a web of trust. They need to know you are the foundation of love they can lean on when they are afraid, feel alone or have problems. Children and teens want to know you are willing to give them social support not only in their everyday needs like food, clothing and discipline they also require your non-judgemental emotional support.

I think the worse thing we can do for our kids is to assume they know we have their back. In this fast pace world of busy parents, single parents, divorce or loss of a parent, a child might be afraid to share their feeling or let parents know they have a bullying problem. They may feel the parent is too stressed and angry or that mom or dad really doesn’t care.

Here are some of the ways to remind your child you care:

1)      Be sensitive to the child’s/teen’s needs

2)      Have clear behavioral expectations

3)      Listen and give advice if they ask for it.

4)      Be constistant with the rules and expectations

5)      Never stop telling them you love them and how you appreciate them in your life

Working in combination, parental support and parental control are believed to foster children’s emotional, psychological and behavioral well-being and development.” (Rothrauff et al., 2009 and Bully Free Schools: Circle of Support Resource Guide for Trainers, Dee Lindengerger)

Your kids need to know we’ve got their back, don’t let them down.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

A Bully Free Summer

Many of us think that bullying only happens in school or during recess, when actually bullying happens anytime and anywhere.  It can happen at bible camp, sports camp, scouting events and even in your own backyard. This is why as parents, neighbors, volunteers and camp counselors we should keep an eye out and speak up when a child is demonstrating aggressive, bullying behavior.

All camp counselors and volunteers should be properly trained to not only recognize bullying behavior but also understand the rules and policies.  They need to all be committed to reminding the campers and their parents what is expected and the discipline that will be enforced if they demonstrate aggressive bullying behavior.   (Richard Paul offers extensive bully prevention training for camp counselors and volunteers.)

Just like at school  there should be a set of rules  at camp that your child understands and that he and his friends know will be enforced if they  start bullying behavior.

“We are not doing children any favors when we rationalize their behavior as “just part of growing up”; when we “give them a break” on honestly-earned consequences we deprive them of the opportunity to learn effective and respectful ways of achieving their goals and meeting their needs.”  Taken from Bully Free Schools Resource Guide

 What constitutes bullying?

1)      Constant one sided teasing

2)      One sided pushing and punching

3)      A child trying to isolate another child from the group

4)      Texting mean things and fibs about another child

5)      Degrading and racist remarks

This also is true for camp counselors and volunteers, who like to joke around with the campers. They need to understand what appropriate playful fun is and what is bullying.

It’s no secret kids love summer vacation and we as adults want them to experience the same childhood memories we all hold dear to our hearts.  So this summer if you see a child being bullied speak up, enforce the camp or household rules.  Let the children know we’ve  got their back.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

This past week I have been watching the Thomas Jefferson documentary on PBS.  When they talked about the Declaration of Independence and how Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the three men elected to be the committee to write the document, Ben Franklin didn’t want to write it because he didn’t like people editing his work.  John Adams said “too many people don’t like me.”  This left Jefferson to write the entire document.

In the Declaration of Independence it talks about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It made me think of schools that have aggressive students bullying other students, in essence taking away the way they want to live their life at school, the freedom to feel safe, and their fears that take away any chance of happiness while at school.

I think that like our nation’s forefathers administrators, teachers, parents and students need to come together to draw up their own Declaration of Independence from aggressive, bullying behavior. Including a set of strategies, policy reinforcement and procedures that remind all students that aggressive bully behavior is no longer tolerated.  Letting it be known that a team of students, parents and staff are committed to making sure every student will have Life, Liberty and Happiness.

“Efforts to create a safe and supportive school for all students will be optimized when the school functions as an aligned system where all members, programmatic components and policy and procedures are coordinated, guided by the same underlying principles, and working toward the same goals.”   Bully Free Schools: Circle of Support Resource Guide for Trainers

Have selected students read this document weekly on the announcements, at assemblies, in the lunch room and parent night events.

Like Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson you are the chosen one to speak up for those who are afraid to say STOP IT.  But instead of making excuses like Franklin and Adams, be committed to work as a team to draw up a school declaration that students, staff and parents will be proud of they will abide by.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013