Childcare Parenting

The big problem with tiger parenting

tiger parenting
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Find out if you’re a tiger parent without even realising it.

While this strict form of parenting may seem to yield positive results, there’s scholarly work which suggests tiger parenting can take a serious toll on a child’s well-being.

What is tiger parenting?

Yale professor Amy Chua coined the term by Yale in her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In it, she celebrates a form of parenting that places high demands on the child, puts them under a harsh regimen and psychological control. Although Chua’s concept refers to Chinese culture, it has been adopted to describe this strict form of parenting in other cultures. It’s like other parent stereotypes such as the stage mother. And though Chua referred to a tiger mother, the term can be used for dads as well.

Tiger parenting in the UK

David Cameron commended tiger parenting when he was prime minister during a speech back in 2016. “No matter how clever you are,” he said, “if you do not believe in continued hard work and concentration, and if you do not believe that you can return from failure, you will not fulfil your potential. It is what the tiger mother’s battle hymn is all about: work, try hard, believe you can succeed, get up and try again.”

The negatives of tiger parenting

Unrealistic expectations can take their toll on both parent and child. Some children are smarter than others – it is unfair to punish those who have no chance of getting top marks. The approval of parents is also incredibly important to children’s self-esteem. If this is only given for academic success, it can cause distress in your child. Tiger parenting also often disregards children’s sociability in favour of work. It also disregards their individuality and creativity.

Tiger parenting is not only bad for the child, but for the parent too. Queen Mary University released a study of tiger parents showing that when they pursued child-related activities, they showed lower levels of wellbeing. Not only does it make the parent unhappy, but this unhappiness can then further harm the child.

How to avoid becoming a tiger parent

Of course it’s good to instil a hard work ethic in your child and encourage them to do well academically. But you should be careful of setting unreasonable expectations. Get to know your child’s natural ability and work form there.