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Self-Esteem in Time and PlaceHow American Families Imagine, Enact, and Personalize a Cultural Ideal$
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Peggy J. Miller and Grace E. Cho

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199959723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199959723.001.0001

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(p.139) 6 Discipline
Self-Esteem in Time and Place

Peggy J. Miller

Grace E. Cho

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6, “Discipline,” describes how discipline was practiced in Centerville families, and includes illustrative vignettes from recorded observations. Discipline was a delicate matter within the social imaginary of childrearing and self-esteem because negative feedback was construed as damaging children’s self-esteem if not handled adroitly. Although parents believed that discipline was important, they did not want to be too harsh or discipline in the wrong way. They sometimes cast children’s misdeeds as preferences or self-expression, thereby sidestepping the need for discipline. And when parents resorted to punishment, they often used humor, endearments, or expressions of love to soften their criticism and mitigate the psychological impact on the child. The most negative messages directed at the focal children came from their siblings. This chapter also describes variability across families; parents often drew on their own personal experiences and considered their child’s individual temperament when disciplining. Stressful life conditions posed additional challenges.

Keywords:   discipline, negative feedback, self-esteem, children, parents, childrearing, self-expression, punishment, siblings, temperament

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