"Tiger Mother" Techniques Have the Right Intention but Wrong Tactics

fantasy bondsAmy Chua, a professor of law at Yale University, recently published a book describing her strict child-rearing techniques and experiences titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin Press, 2011). Chua, a mother of two daughters, ascribes to a traditional Chinese parenting style that demands nothing short of perfection from her children: allowing nothing below an ‘A’ in all classes, and demanding musical excellence in piano and violin, requiring rigorous practice for hours a day, everyday. She also takes a firm stance on television, video games, play dates and sleepovers – by banning them completely. Chua argues that Western-style parenting is too forgiving of mediocrity and for children to reach their full potential, it is necessary to demand perfection.

While experts say Chua’s methods may be extreme, there is a valuable lesson to be learned from Tiger Mother:  setting high expectations for your children will encourage them to reach their full potential, gain self-confidence, and give them the life skills necessary to succeed. “We want kids to develop the psychological muscle to do things well when they don’t feel like it,” says David Palmiter, a psychology professor at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

However, it is important to tailor expectations for each child, realizing what is and is not feasible for individual children. According to Dorian Traube, an assistant professor at USC’s School of Social Work, meeting high-set goals can be empowering for a child who has the potential to do so, but similar goals can discourage children who maybe just aren’t capable of perfection. The take-away message here seems to be this: demanding the best your child can achieve isn’t a bad idea for parents; Chua’s controversial methods, however, are still up for debate.

To read more about what the experts have to say regarding Chua’s child-rearing methods, click here.

To read about the discussion and controversy surrounding Chua’s ban on sleepovers, click here.

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Michelle Brooks

As a mother of 3 young boys, I’ve found that the (near) elimination of video games has been helpful in maintaining good grades and promoting outdoor physical exercise! A child needs guidance from their parents in directing his/her interests.

Susanne Shandy

I have 4 children, each with very different temperaments. I agree with this article in regards to tailoring expectations for each individual child.

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