Ancestry, Bilingual kids, bilingual mom, Bilingualism, Compassionate parenting, Padres compasivos, Spanish grammar, Tu, Usted, Spanish Pronouns, Spanish Verbs, Discipline, Spanish immersion, Spanish teacher

La Chancleta vs. Other Ways of Discipline…


My mother and her two brothers in Colombia. Photo by

“¡Getting a chancletazo because I said ¿qué? instead of mande!” The image of the Hispanic mom with chancla or chancleta on hand ready to dar un chancletazo or “discipline” the child is pervasive in talks about Hispanic culture etc. That was the way back in the old days… Y claro, que esto pasa…Yes, this has … does happen… it must be if there are so many images, jokes, bloggers and people on social media, YouTube, radio, TV etc. talking about it right? Go ahead and google chancla and chancleta and see what you find.


La Chancleta vs. other ways of discipline.

La chancla or chancleta comes under the “the beatings will continue until moral improves” form of discipline…pero ay por el amor a  Dios, it’s not the only way we discipline!

There are other options. More effective ways for discipline that a Spanish speaking person has at their disposal that do not exist in the English language … that we can talk about as well and that’s thanks to something I like to call S.L.G.  or Spanish Language Grammar! It makes it sound a little more scientific. There is also the opportunity to check for anything you might be carrying that is in your power to change about yourself that could be causing the issue. I give myself the: Oye…qué es lo que está pasando aquí…(Where did this really come from? Who started this? Could I have done something different to pre-empt this?) This we talked about in an earlier blog back in April titled “Poco a Poco” where we mentioned Compassionate Parenting.

But let’s say you decide that what is called for is a voice of authority for your child…yes, of course we all need to be an authority, they need that from us also. Well, here’s something people also do in the Spanish language community that is subtle but effective sometimes…here’s where Spanish Language Grammar comes in handy.

As you may or may not already know, the Spanish language has many different pronouns for the you form. We are talking about the singular form. You have the familiar vos (used in Argentina, Uruguay, etc. and we will tackle this at another time) and   form, which oftentimes you use for close friends, family, or if is all you’ve known all of your life you use it with everyone except when in some cases you notice it doesn’t seem right with some people.

Then there is the usted form which is used for people you don’t know well, just met, or out of respect, elderly, etc. (Although nowadays with Facebook all of this is changing quite quickly I might add…) And, it can be used as well to help  dar un poco de espacio …give some space between people.

My mother grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia, which is considered La Costa, and people can be more informal, closer to the temperament of the Caribbean, and use the informal or form more often than usted. Her family was from many places in Colombia of El Interior, Chiquinquirá, Boyacá, Cali and the South of Colombia Condoto, Chocó. She had a mom and dad who talked among themselves with the formal usted at all times. That threw me off a bit when I met my grandfather, from Chiquinquirá, in Colombia at the age of 9 that he should talk to me so formally.


Chiquinquirá, Colombia.


My grandmother and mother used the usted and more interchangeably with us. And since they were in charge of discipline… they came equipped with just the right grammatical tools.


Con mi abuela y mami en Puerto Rico.

Discipline with my mom was sometimes a matter of a change in pronoun…or verb tense…if you were not meeting expectations or out of line you knew it because all of a sudden mom was treating you with a formal form of usted, sort of like in English… the parent uses the full name… Jonathan Edward Thompson… you take your hand away from there or you will get burned! ¡Quite la mano de allí que se va a quemar!

You can also do so with the verbs. When you ask someone to do something you can also use Los Mandatos or the more Formal Command form. I call it the “bossy” tense. Here are the regular and irregulars informal first then the formal…

With regular verbs you would just change the ending right? and here you have examples of that in the Formal:

ar verbs have an “e” ending – Limpiar – ¡Limpie! – Clean

er and ir verbs have an “a” ending – Correr – ¡Corra! – Run

The irregular verbs in the Command Form:


Come – ¡Ven! – ¡Venga!

Tell – ¡Di! – ¡Diga!

Get out – ¡Sal! – ¡Salga!

Do – ¡Haz!  – ¡Haga!

Have – ¡Ten! – ¡Tenga!

Go – ¡Ve! – ¡Vaya!

Put – ¡Pon! – ¡Ponga!

Be -¡Sé! – ¡Séa!

You see why I call these the Bossy Verb Tense…you get your message across without a doubt!

An easy way to remember the irregular verb commands in the regular form is to imagine this to be something Arnold Schwarzenneger could say “Van Di Sal Has Ten Weapons” in a movie in some intimidating tone:


So back to the infamous chancla. Let’s do this. Let’s put the myth of la chancla to rest and back on our foot where it belongs and talk about other ways we can discipline. I would not approve of any cultural practice that causes another person physical harm or invades a person’s free will. The moment we have a child… it’s time for us all to find other ways, grow and evolve.

Here are some uses for Tú and Usted from favorite artists… see if you can notice the change in tone just a simple change in pronoun can have. Enjoy!

Luis Miguel delivers a sweet and stern message for usted, from his Romance album of 1991, that makes a good example of Tú vs. Usted use. Notice the conjugation all throughout.. No juegue con mis penas, ni con mis sentimientos…Comprenda de una vez…

Ricardo Arjona, the talented singer, songwriter, former basketball player and schoolteacher, from Guatemala, wrote and released this song in 2012 with fellow Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno. Fuiste Tú, that is to say: It was you… or It was your fault.  Tú reaches the target and does not get any more intimate than in this song about a couple that is looking back on what happened.

Subscribe now and receive notifications regarding new upcoming articles, songs and resources to assist you in your efforts to teach your kids Spanish.The opinions in this page are simply coming from the perspective of Prof. Constancia. I am sharing with other mothers and fathers with the intention of helping our children in their development, creating a community that will help all of them progress in their Spanish studies and cultural expression.Share your opinions with us on this page or on Facebook. If you would like to ask questions or work with me regarding affiliate marketing, giveaways or other projects, please email me at Thanks.

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2 thoughts on “La Chancleta vs. Other Ways of Discipline…

  1. Truly enjoyed reading this post. I also grew up with la chancleta’s looming presence and plenty of the bossy grammar tense being shouted my way, but I have made sure to avoid doing all this to my kids. Of course, all my older relatives agree that the parents of my generation have become hopelessly soft. Personally, I don’t think parents need la chancleta to raise kids properly. I have managed to raise my oldest son free of drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol, and he’s currently an honest, hard-working, and respectful college student. All this with no chancleta whatsoever!

    Liked by 1 person

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