Will Parenting Like the Tiger Mother Improve Your Special Needs Child’s Academic Performance?
The Tiger Mother craze is sweeping America. Most people have heard about Amy Chua, who authored a controversial book entitled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” The book has become controversial because Ms. Chua revealed things in the book such as rejecting a birthday card one of her daughters made for her, saying it was not the best she could do.
When I first read some of the things Ms. Chua revealed in her book, I was outraged. But I’ve been listening to Ms. Chua explain her beliefs about parenting and I’ve begun to understand that some things she says make sense, and I’m going to weigh in with some positive comments about the “Asian” parenting style. I don’t agree with everything Ms. Chua has to say, but she has latched-on to some important points that really resonate with me because they work. Some of the parenting strategies she emphasizes do improve academic skills, and do not erode self concept.
To oversimplify, the “Asian” parenting style is anchored in several important beliefs. Parents believe they have their children’s futures in their hands and it is their duty to teach their children how to survive and support themselves in a tough world. Parents work and sacrifice to give their children the strong start in life they believe is essential to their survival.
Asian parents also rely on their belief that children are strong and not only can withstand high discipline and structure, but also greatly profit from being given the tools to compete and survive in a tough world. They believe that it is the parents’ duty to teach children what they’re capable of, and equip them with the skills, work habits and inner confidence that will form the foundation of their success. Since Asian parents assume their children are strong and capable of learning and mastering academic tasks, they demand perfect grades, certain that their child can get them.
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Again, to oversimplify, many American parents are concerned that if their child fails at something it will damage his or her self-concept. They often assume that children’s self-esteem is delicate and kids need to be bolstered up with praise, even when their performance is lacking.
Asian parents also realize that when kids are young they don’t have the ability to make decisions that are in their best interest. They expect to teach their children the skills necessary to make strong choices by directing their lives themselves until their children learn how to guide their own lives in productive and successful ways.
American parents work to respect their children’s individuality, encourage them to make their own choices, and pursue their true passions. This great belief is one of the hallmarks of our country and should never fade from our belief system. We must be aware, however, that we sometimes err on the side of giving our children too much autonomy at too early an age. This includes allowing our children to decide not to continue with drill and practice when the going gets tough. We need to have rules and structure so kids are able to develop a platform for persistence in life, particularly in the face of obstacles. Asians parents also hold to the belief that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. They believe excellent performance fuels high self-esteem. They realize that to become skillful at anything requires considerable practice and dedication. Asian parents assume the rigors of practicing to mastery are distasteful to kids, causing them to give up before they become skillful. Asian parents step in to require practice so children become adept. When children become skillful they not only receive praise for their skill, they also feel the self-confidence and pride that comes from being good. These rewards for their efforts encourage children to continue practicing and getting better. Therefore, Asian parents feel that one of the worst things a parent can do for their child’s self-esteem is to let them give up before they master a skill.
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