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What Is Tiger Parenting And Is It Superior?

What Is Tiger Parenting

Tiger parenting is a strict parenting style made popular by the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” written by law professor Amy Chua of Yale Law School. In Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the Yale law professor described how she relentlessly pushed her children to achieve high levels of success through aggressive and harsh methods without regard for their overall development or well-being.

The concept of tiger parenting gained attention partly due to Amy Chua’s bold claim in Wall Street Journal that “Chinese mothers are superior” (which she later clarified were not her words) and partly because many Chinese-American families with immigrant parents could relate to the experience, even if they didn’t agree with the idea of superiority.

This parenting method is more commonly seen among Chinese immigrant families​1​.

tiger mother yells at son

What Is A Tiger Mom

A tiger mom is an authoritarian parent who pushes her children to succeed in school and extracurricular activities with psychological control and punitive measures. However, such parenting strategies are not exclusive to mothers. Some fathers also adopt a tiger parenting approach.

Tiger parents are strict and controlling. Their children are not allowed to make decisions, especially regarding academics or activities.

Children often experience harsh treatment, such as yelling, shaming, or punishing, as well as unrealistic expectations, such as getting all-As.

A tiger mom or dad is primarily concerned with having a successful child rather than what is best for the child.

Examples Of Tiger Parenting

Here are some examples of tiger parenting practices.

  • Enforcing strict family rules and routines, including demanding study schedules and limited leisure time.
  • Setting unrealistically high expectations of getting only As in school.
  • Using criticism and verbal abuse to motivate their children, including hurtful comments about their intelligence or abilities, like “Why are you so stupid?” or “You’re dumb like a pig.”
  • Believing that their kids owe them everything​2​.
  • Believing that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires.
  • Prohibiting or restricting activities that are not considered educational or productive, such as socializing with friends.
  • Comparing their children to others and putting pressure on them to outperform their peers.
  • Punishing or shaming them for not meeting expectations.
  • Intrusively monitoring their study progress and insisting on perfect grades.
  • Forcing them into advanced courses or competitions regardless of the child’s interests.
  • Forcing children to take on activities they are not interested in, such as playing the piano, and requiring them to practice intensively.
  • Praise is rarely given by the parent.

Tiger Parenting Does Not Represent Chinese Parenting

Although a prominent person has claimed that tiger parenting strategies are the Chinese way of parenting, that doesn’t mean it represents the parenting methods used by the entire nation or even most Chinese.

A study that followed 444 Chinese American families for eight years found that tiger parenting was not a common parenting profile among these families, nor did it lead to the best outcomes for Asian American children​11​

Just as no one parenting method represents American parenting, no single method represents parenting used by Chinese parents. 

Tiger parenting is an authoritarian parenting style that can exist in any culture.

Negative Effects

The use of shaming tactics by tiger parents to create feelings of unworthiness and unloved in children is a form of psychological abuse with numerous negative impacts on child development.

Research has indicated that children with authoritarian parents often exhibit the following outcomes:

Low Self-Esteem

Children constantly yelled at, shamed, corrected, and belittled by harsh parents are more likely to develop negative self-images and low self-esteem.

Children internalize the message that they are never good enough, no matter how hard they try. 

The constant criticism and negative feedback lead to a deep-seated belief in their own inadequacy and a lack of confidence in their abilities​3​.

Increased stress and anxiety

Children who experience high levels of pressure from tiger parenting often feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can have serious impacts on their mental health. Research has shown that children who experience high levels of stress and pressure are at increased risk for developing disorders, such as anxiety and depression​4​.

Difficulty in Making Decisions

Children of tiger parents often face challenges in independent decision-making. 

They are rigorously taught to follow the guidance of their parents, leaving little room for personal choice. 

Despite their strong academic foundations, they struggle to make everyday life choices because they have never been given a chance to learn​5​.

Decreased motivation

The intense pressure to succeed may lead to a loss of interest in activities and a decrease in motivation.

The push on children to study and earn good grades depletes them of the intrinsic motivation to learn, which is the natural drive to engage in learning because it is enjoyable and fulfilling.

The lack of intrinsic motivation ultimately results in poor academic achievement​6​.

Lack of Creativity

High levels of pressure and control also lead to a fear of failure​7​.

Children may become afraid to take risks and pursue their passions, leading to a lack of creativity and independent thinking​8​.

Difficulty in Regulating Emotions

Children’s emotional development is facilitated by supportive parenting. 

The lack of emotional support from tiger parents hinders the development of emotional regulation.

In addition, intense pressure creates a heightened state of stress, exacerbating the difficulty in regulating. 

With an overactive emotional state and a poorly developed emotional regulation system, children can struggle to manage stress effectively.

As a result, adolescents with tiger parents may struggle with anger regulation and impulse control​9​.

Increased risk for addiction

Adolescents who experience high levels of stress and pressure may be more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism​10​.

Stress and pressure cause teenagers to use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, escape negative emotions, and self-medicate. 

Also See:
How to deal with strict parents
How adults raised by authoritarian parents can recover

Boy is motivated to do homework

Have trouble motivating your child? Check out: How To Motivate Kids

Positive Effects

Although tiger parenting has many negative effects, some Asian parents continue to use this method of parenting because they believe they will achieve the following positive outcomes instead.

  • High academic success
  • Strong work ethic
  • Financial stability
  • Preserving the Chinese heritage

However, these claims have been disputed by studies​11​. In fact, students with tiger parents tend to have worse academic outcomes.

Positive child outcomes are more likely to result from authoritative parents who are warm and responsive and set high standards. Authoritative parenting is associated with the best developmental outcomes and is the best way to parent.

Some parents claim that tiger parenting works for them – that their children are more successful as a result. Even when it seems to work, the child succeeds despite it, not because of it.

Also See: Strict Parents

Need Help Motivating Kids?

Online course How To Motivate Kids is a great place to start.

References

  1. 1.
    Guo K. Ideals and realities in Chinese immigrant parenting: Tiger mother versus others. Journal of Family Studies. Published online April 2013:44-52. doi:10.5172/jfs.2013.19.1.44
  2. 2.
    Juang LP, Qin DB, Park IJK. Deconstructing the myth of the “tiger mother”: An introduction to the special issue on tiger parenting, Asian-heritage families, and child/adolescent well-being. Asian American Journal of Psychology. Published online March 2013:1-6. doi:10.1037/a0032136
  3. 3.
    Minev M, Petrova B, Mineva K, Petkova M, Strebkova R. Self-esteem in adolescents. TJS. Published online 2018:114-118. doi:10.15547/tjs.2018.02.007
  4. 4.
    Laurin JC, Joussemet M, Tremblay RE, Boivin M. Early Forms of Controlling Parenting and the Development of Childhood Anxiety. J Child Fam Stud. Published online January 22, 2015:3279-3292. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0131-9
  5. 5.
    Sovet L, Metz AJ. Parenting styles and career decision-making among French and Korean adolescents. Journal of Vocational Behavior. Published online June 2014:345-355. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2014.02.002
  6. 6.
    Schiffrin HH, Liss M. The Effects of Helicopter Parenting on Academic Motivation. J Child Fam Stud. Published online February 6, 2017:1472-1480. doi:10.1007/s10826-017-0658-z
  7. 7.
    Fletcher KL, Serena Shim S, Wang C. Perfectionistic concerns mediate the relationship between psychologically controlling parenting and achievement goal orientations. Personality and Individual Differences. Published online June 2012:876-881. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.02.001
  8. 8.
    Koestner R, Ryan RM, Bernieri F, Holt K. Setting limits on children’s behavior: The differential effects of controlling vs. informational styles on intrinsic motivation and creativity. J Personality. Published online September 1984:233-248. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1984.tb00879.x
  9. 9.
    Morris AS, Criss MM, Silk JS, Houltberg BJ. The Impact of Parenting on Emotion Regulation During Childhood and Adolescence. Child Dev Perspect. Published online June 9, 2017:233-238. doi:10.1111/cdep.12238
  10. 10.
    Tran NK, Van Berkel SR, van IJzendoorn MH, Alink LRA. The association between child maltreatment and emotional, cognitive, and physical health functioning in Vietnam. BMC Public Health. Published online April 19, 2017. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4258-z
  11. 11.
    Kim SY, Wang Y, Orozco-Lapray D, Shen Y, Murtuza M. Does “tiger parenting” exist? Parenting profiles of Chinese Americans and adolescent developmental outcomes. Asian American Journal of Psychology. Published online 2013:7-18. doi:10.1037/a0030612

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