If you grew up in a Latino home, you know very well the power of the chancleta (slipper). And for those who don’t, let’s just say that a plain old pair of slippers can command significant fear from rambunctious children, as they run away from stressed-out parents threatening to use it to discipline bad behavior.
The Evolution of Disclipline Styles
The first time I heard about time out was in high school. The idea that a parent would ask a child to sit quietly and “think about what you did…” was quite impressive to me. In college, my Child and Developmental Psychology class was eye-opening. The principles of Adlerian Psychology, Jean Piaget’s theories on developmental psychology, the insights offered by attachment theories, all served to redefine, for me, the motives and circumstances of children’s behaviors.
By the time I had my first daughter, I was a deep believer in conversation, in allowing the child to self-express (temper tantrum were considered a form of expression), and to never, ever use corporal punishment.
I even avoided using the words “don’t,” “no” and “you can’t” — to ensure my daughter wouldn’t internalize these limiting words, as advised by the “experts.”
But by the time I had my oldest son, I soon realized that your child’s personality and temperament plays an important role in how you approach discipline. I found myself yelling and screaming — something I swore I wouldn’t do. And while I have never used a chancleta, I will admit I have threatened to do so. Today, my son is quite a young gentleman, a truly great boy. But, it took a combination of disciplining methods, cultural and more modern ones, to guide him in the right direction.
Figuring It Out As You Go…
I have been parenting for 17 years — 4 children ranging from 2 to 17! Over the years, I have come to realize that sitting down to have a conversation (sometimes a minute long, sometimes half-an-hour), works best for our family. We also avoid the drama that was so present in my home, growing up. Our conversation with our children are mature, understanding, compassionate but firm. The resounding message is that we respect them enough to converse with them about the situation at hand, and figure out how to move forward.
We also keep our eyes and ears open, all the time. We watch our kids, we listen to them argue and play. We check-in with them, to make sure all is well. This also helps them know that we are aware — a powerful message. Paying attention also helps us notice what may triggers poor behavior, temper tantrums, and other annoying circumstances.
We also do some self-inspection: We check-in with ourselves to assess if we’re contributing to our children’s poor behaviors. Have we been too busy around the kids? Are the kids picking up on our stress or irritability? Are we placing on them our own unresolved ‘stuff’ — expectations, needs, fears?
Finally, if we find ourselves getting too angry or yelling, we pause to remind ourselves that we’re role modeling how to deal with frustration. That reminder is usually enough to make us take a deep breathe and relax…
What’s your discipline style? What works and what doesn’t?