One mother confessed to me that they had put their two-year old daughter on a new disciplinary program with the coming of the second baby. They went from a positive disciplinary style to a more punitive counting 1-2-3 "Time Out" style. We never had my daughter on any sort of program, in part due to the instinctive way we've always parented. That said, we erred on the more punitive style...
As the women in my class talked, I sheepishly remembered the time a neighbor caught me cursing my daughter on the street. I was sleep-deprived and stressed out from pursuing an MBA full-time with a two year old (barely an excuse...I also used to play a game where I'd let my daughter say a bad word in my presence alone to test her vocabulary - it wasn't pretty). Instinctive parenting, indeed! One woman in the class remarked that she resented her mother counting when she grew up, because it never gave her a chance to explain herself. Another woman said her dad used to say she'd die with a nasty expression frozen on her face.
I expressed my support of a more punitive disciplinary style, citing my sister's chaotic household as what can happen with the notion of 'Time Ins' rather than 'Time Outs'. 'Time In' being a "cuddle corner" where children are invited, not sent, to have a nurturing conversation with their parents about their feelings instead of being disciplined.
While I don't believe that two-year olds can discuss their behavior logically, the discussion made me wonder if we parent by emulation (my father STILL curses loudly at his kids when they piss him off) or by rejecting what disciplinary styles we hated. I regretted never having asked my sister whether there were things about our own parents' disciplinary style that she disliked and therefore was trying not to do with her kids.
My husband and I certainly have a list of things from our parents that we don't want to repeat, but on balance, we also understand that their parenting philosophy instilled order in our homes and established the parents as the authorities - something that we value in our home.
What's your philosophy around disciplining your kids? Do you parent by instinctively copying (and perhaps cringing at) your parents' own disciplinary methods? Or have you adopted disciplinary methods that fly in the face of what was done in your family?