Many TV shows depict Asian moms as strict, scary, and controlling. Often, these matriarchs sport a stern, no-nonsense demeanour designed to strike fear in their offspring. Their primary focus? Push their kids to excel. But, in doing so, they leave no room for children to experience fun activities or social interactions with peers. In the realm of raising kids, this is tiger parenting.
Despite the method garnering negative attention, its advocates still maintain that it produces stellar results in the upbringing of children. But just how far can a tiger parent go before causing detrimental effects on their child’s development? Read on to learn more about this ultra-strict parenting approach, plus some alternative styles to consider.
What Is Tiger Parenting?
Tiger parenting refers to a rearing approach that prioritises academic accomplishments, overall success in life, and strict discipline. It originated from ancient Confucian philosophy, which values filial piety, integrity, diligence, endurance, and the pursuit of scholastic achievements. Through this concept, a child can become more self-disciplined, responsible, ambitious, and mentally empowered.
Author and Yale professor Amy Chua describes “tiger parents” as Asian mothers with an authoritarian and controlling nurturing style. As a tiger mum herself, she stresses how the practice incorporates positive and negative parenting methods.
Does Tiger Parenting Work?
Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom depicts the parenting style as harsh and unsupportive. Despite this, she credits her daughters’ academic and musical successes to her firm guidance. Still, critics argue that she based her rearing technique on personal experience rather than research.
According to a study published by the Asian American Journal of Psychology, “It is actually supportive parenting, not tiger parenting, that is associated with the best developmental outcomes.” The research also revealed that the approach’s repercussions outweigh the benefits.
Although a strict parent can push their child to excel, they do so by displaying toxic behaviours, including constant criticism and insufficient positive reinforcement. As such, children often exhibit the following adverse effects, which they carry to adulthood:
- Weak mental health
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Fear of failure and punishment
- Lack of imagination
- Overdependence on authority
- Poor coping skills
Alternatives to Tiger Parenting
According to Berkley psychology assistant professor Qing Zhou, tiger parents, who focus only on pushing their kids to work harder, fail to express love and affection. Thus, these children grow up successful but without an emotional connection with their life-givers.
Are you looking for warmhearted alternatives to this tyrannical method? Here are three options.
1. Supportive parenting
Supportive parenting means prioritising the child’s best interests and staying engaged, helpful, and present. It involves:
- Treating them fairly and nurturing a trusting relationship.
- Recognising their accomplishments and supporting them through mistakes and challenges.
- Listening without judgment and understanding their worries.
- Encouraging their efforts in academics, hobbies, and interests actively.
- Motivating them to try new experiences, like playing a musical instrument or learning a language.
- Establishing consistent expectations and consequences to foster a sense of security and predictability.
2. Positive parenting
Positive parenting focuses on cultivating a strong and deeply committed parent-child relationship through effective communication and mutual respect. It emphasises the following:
- Teaching children what to do but also explaining the reasons behind it.
- Guiding kids towards developing self-control.
- Setting rules and consequences that are regularly discussed and followed through.
- Helping children develop self-discipline to overcome fears. For example, accompanying them to their dentist appointments and thoroughly explaining the procedures. This way, they don’t grow up with dental anxiety and evade future treatments like ClearCorrect aligner therapy.
- Listening actively to understand kids’ thoughts and allowing correction of misunderstandings.
- Discussing the child’s future with openness and flexibility.
3. Gentle parenting
Gentle parenting, pioneered by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, promotes raising kids without shame, blame, and punishment. This approach strengthens bonds between parents and children, leading to independent, happy, and resilient adults. Its guiding principles include:
- Empathising with youngsters and staying mindful of how they feel.
- Understanding that the child is a child, and responses to their actions must be appropriate to their age. For example, a toddler throwing a tantrum isn’t doing it to make noise; they simply can’t verbalise their needs yet. Rather than scolding the child, parents should check if the problem arises from hunger, tiredness, or the emergence of baby teeth.
- Motivating kids in a way that does not rely on rewards and punishments.
- Setting important boundaries without overwhelming them with too many restrictions.
Finding the Best Parenting Style for Your Family
Adopting a parenting approach is not as simple as choosing from a list. It’ll require time to discover one suitable for a family’s circumstances. You’ll also have to consider personal experiences, observations, and even logistics. If you wish to change or enhance your child-rearing practices, consider these factors:
- Your child’s temperament: Acknowledge their personality and adjust your approach accordingly.
- Environment: Consider cultural norms and values that can shape your parenting choices and expectations for your young ones.
- Your availability: Assess the time and resources you can dedicate to parenting. Only select a style that aligns with your ability to provide consistent care and support. For instance, if the youngster requires dental care, how often can you accompany them?
- Previous experiences: Reflect on your upbringing and the parenting styles you experienced, utilising this insight to shape your rearing methods.
- The kid’s limitations and individual needs: Tailor your approach to accommodate your children’s unique requirements, challenges, and strengths.
- The family size: If you have multiple kids, adapt your parenting techniques to manage family dynamics effectively and address the needs of each child.
- The responsiveness of other family members: Consider the involvement and impact of additional carers, like grandparents or siblings, on your kid’s upbringing.
Child-rearing styles vary among families. Although tiger parenting is no longer widely accepted, there are positive aspects you can learn from it. Who doesn’t want their child to grow up hardworking, disciplined, and dedicated? Surely, every parent wants their kid to succeed, whether in school or in their career. Take these goals along as you determine the most suitable parenting approach for your brood.
Kim, S. Y. (n.d.). What is “tiger” parenting? How does it affect children? https://www.apadivisions.org.
Sa, P. (n.d.). What parenting style works best for children? – Jodie Benveniste.
Sanvictores, T. (2022, September 18). Types of Parenting Styles and Effects On Children. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.
The power of positive parenting. (n.d.). UC Davis Health.
Winston, R., & Chicot, R. (2016). The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children. London Journal of Primary Care, 8(1), 12–14.