Way of the Tiger In her book, Chua writes that the fundamental premise followed by Chinese parents in drilling their children is that nothing is fun until you are good at it, a theory confirmed in cognitive neuroscience. To be good at anything, one has to work, and children never want to work on their own. So, it’s crucial to override their preferences. Things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. Tenacious practice, a Chinese tenet, is crucial for excellence while rote repetition is grossly “underrated” in America.
According to Chua, Chinese Tiger parents
Don’t allow their children to
Be in a school play since theatre is a “whim”, unlike playing a musical instrument
Watch TV or play computer games as it distracts them from studies, music practice
Get any grade less than an A, since
Chinese parents don’t accept anything less
Play any instrument other than the piano or the violin because the violin, “being the hardest to play”, symbolises strength, beauty and discipline
Don’t believe in praising their child as they won’t push hard enough to excel and turn into approval junkies
Frown on American practices such as allowing a child to go over to a friend’s home for a ‘sleepover’.
Way of the kitten
The American ‘Kitten’ parents are seen as being too lenient and therefore ineffective. Chua says that American parents are:
Too affectionate. For instance, she writes that they worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding mediocre performance in a test or recital.
Too concerned about their children’s psyches, while Chinese parents aren’t. She disapproves of Americans for “slathering praise on their kids for the lowest of tasks — drawing a squiggle or waving a stick.”
While Chinese culture allows parents to be strict with their children for the child’s benefit, the American state is far more politically correct. Chua writes that she called her daughter “garbage” for refusing to obey, and Chua herself was called garbage by her father — this is unimaginable in American society where it will be seen as subjecting a child to mental cruelty.
Chua says Asian parents are shocked with the amount of time Westerners allow their kids to waste — hours on Facebook and computer games — and in some ways, how poorly they prepare them for the future.
Way of the Bull
Indians, while believing in a strict upbringing unlike the more lenient American, appear to be not quite as extreme as the Chinese. More and more people could be leaving the choice of career to their child, but a majority still wants a work ethic emphasising discipline and doing well in fields like engineering or medicine — leading them to be pushy or bull-like parents.
According to our survey:
60 per cent of the parents have scolded or hit their children at some time. unlike Chinese parents, affection is also expressed — 66 per cent hug/pat their child.
68 per cent say their child is stressed due to too many activities/coaching after school.
57 per cent feel a strong and disciplined environment inculcates good values
54 per cent like to keep tabs on their kids and won’t allow them more than a lunch outing, let alone the American style ‘sleepovers’