Finding the balance between phony self-esteem and ‘Tiger Mom’

19 Jan

Moi really didn’t want to touch that “Tiger Mom” kerfuffle because having read some selected passages culled from excerpts of Amy Chua’s “memoirs” of raising her daughters moi’s first thought was that girlfriend possibly needed her medication adjusted. Annie Murphy Paul provides a more balanced approach to Ms. Chua’s biography in the Time article, “Tiger Moms’, Is Tough Parenting Really the Answer?

Most surprising of all to Chua’s detractors may be the fact that many  elements of her approach are supported by research in psychology and  cognitive science. Take, for example, her assertion that American  parents go too far in insulating their children from discomfort and  distress. Chinese parents, by contrast, she writes, “assume strength,  not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.” In the  2008 book A Nation of Wimps, author Hara Estroff Marano, editor-at-large of Psychology Today magazine, marshals evidence that shows Chua
is correct. “Research  demonstrates that children who are protected from grappling with  difficult tasks don’t develop what psychologists call ‘mastery experiences,’ ” Marano explains. “Kids who have this well-earned sense  of mastery are more optimistic and decisive; they’ve learned that  they’re capable of overcoming adversity and achieving goals.” Children  who have never had to test their abilities, says Marano, grow into  “emotionally brittle” young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety  and depression.

Another parenting practice with which Chua takes issue is Americans’  habit, as she puts it, of “slathering praise on their kids for the  lowest of tasks — drawing a squiggle or waving a stick.” Westerners  often laud their children as “talented” or “gifted,” she says, while  Asian parents highlight the importance of hard work. And in fact,  research performed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has found that  the way parents offer approval affects the way children perform, even  the way they feel about themselves.

Dweck has conducted studies with hundreds of students, mostly early adolescents, in which experimenters gave the subjects a set of difficult problems from an IQ test. Afterward, some of the young people were  praised for their ability: “You must be smart at this.” Others were  praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.” The kids  who were complimented on their intelligence were much more likely to  turn down the opportunity to do a challenging new task that they could  learn from. “They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their  deficiencies and call into question their talent,” Dweck says. Ninety  percent of the kids who were praised for their hard work, however, were  eager to take on the demanding new exercise.

Still, some of Chua’s comments to her daughters are very hard to take and border on abusive in moi’s opinion. Paul reports that Chua is turning the dial back a degree.

Bonnie Rochman has written the provocative Time article, Take This, Tiger Mom!

It’s been a year since the “Tiger mom” roared onto the scene, sharing how she compelled her kids to practice the piano for hours sans potty breaks and denied them frivolous activities like playdates.

In her best-selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Yale professor Amy Chua made the case that overly indulgent parents — you know who you are: maybe you let your kids play the occasional video game or allow them to spend the night at a friend’s house — can beget only spoiled and unmotivated children.

Now a fellow academic — and Chinese mother — is refuting that tough-as-nails approach, urging parents to let kids be kids. Girls, it turns out, just wanna have fun. And so do boys.

Happiness is actually pretty important for children, says Desiree Baolian Qin, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University.

In two upcoming papers accepted for publication, Qin and her co-authors have looked at the experiences of Chinese-American children and found that high-achieving Chinese students were more depressed and anxious than white children.

The question is how to find a balance between “Tiger Mom” and phony self-esteem.

In No one is perfect: People sometimes fail, moi said:

The Child Development Institute has a good article about how to help your child develop healthy self esteem. A discussion of values is often difficult, but the question the stage parent, over the top little league father, or out of control soccer mom should ask of themselves is what do you really and truly value? What is more important, your child’s happiness and self esteem or your fulfilling an unfinished part of your life through your child? Joe Jackson, the winner of the most heinous stage parent award saw his dreams fulfilled with the price of the destruction of his children’s lives. Most people with a healthy dose of self esteem and sanity would say this is too high a price. 

Letting Go

Sarah Mahoney wrote a good article at Parents.Com about four ways to let go of your kids and she describes her four steps, which she calls Independence Day. Newsweek also has an article on the fine art of letting go  Remember it is your child’s life and they should be allowed to realize their dreams, not yours.

The goal should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Is the self-esteem movement just another education fad?

‘Tiger mothers’ should tame parenting approach

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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