Kiasu as a proper English word

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Kiasu as a proper English word

Post by admin » Wed Sep 19, 2007 10:35 pm

Believe it or not, kiasu (怕输) is a real word, having its own place from the 6th edition of the venerable Oxford dictionary as a noun and adjective. Yeah... you can use it in Scrabble now.

Somewhat official definitions can be found from several sources:
- Wikipedia

And of course, there's always the one from the ever relevant irreverent

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Post by ChiefKiasu » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:14 am

I was walking my daughter out of Trio centre one day when I heard the parents in front of me sniggering at another pair of parents they just passed who were cradling a child who could not be more than 2 years old, apparently rushing for the Trio centre class.

Man: Wah... see the parents... so kiasu! So young also want to bring to class.
Woman: Yuh lor... tsk... these parents really so kiasu.

It was interesting for me because the same couple and their 3yo kid has just attended the same Trio centre class as my daughter.

We Singaporean parents are so hard on ourselves. We give ourselves names to label ourselves or others like ourselves, even though parents in other countries like the US, Europe, and even Japan have been doing it for years, long before we Singaporeans have even heard of the term "Montessori". See those flash cards in our Museum of Shanghai Toys (MoST) review? Our own parents have been using them since over a century ago. When the ang mohs do it, they are lauded as concerned and enlightened parents. When Singaporeans do it, we are derided as being shamelessly competitive. How fair is that?

One reason why we chose to call ourselves is primarily to spin the term on its head, and to let people understand that there is nothing wrong with parents being involved in the early education of our children. Some parents quit their jobs to work full-time on their children. Others continue working, but send their children for enrichment classes or good pre-schools to make up for their own inability to teach their kids. Some parents do both because they want the best for their children.

As long as our motivation is to teach ourselves to become better parents so that we can groom our children into happy and well-balanced adults who will lead Singapore into the next century, I think we should be proud of being KiasuParents instead of worrying about what others might think of what we do as parents.

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Post by breguet » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:06 pm

I want to be perfectly honest in saying that I'm on both sides of the camp - for thinking that some people are kiasu, and for being kiasu myself.

On the former, I've encountered people who are ever so willing to borrow resources, take ideas etc without any intention of giving back. Why? I can only guess that they want to be one step ahead. This is beyond bashfulness - it's wilful non-information in case they give the house secrets away. Then why take from others? I think we've all met this form of kiasuness when we were in school ourselves. Who would ever want to have ongoing interactions with takers only?

On being a kiasu parent, I'm quite proud of being responsive to my child's needs and really don't give a hoot about judgmental people who come around wagging fingers. From the very varied posts on this forum, there is obviously no one prescription that fits every single child. Each child has different needs and learning styles, and every family has different budgets - only the parent can judge what is necessary or effective. Just because someone else is doing a different method that I don't carry out with my child doesn't make what either of us is doing less worthwhile. I love the different opinions on this forum because it makes me pause to re-examine my methods, but if it's effective and both my kid and I enjoy it, I will have no qualms in continuing. I'm quite sure a lot of parents are similar in this regard.

BTW, while being kiasu seems to be a Singaporean concept, it certainly isn't limited to Singapore. A friend pointed me out to this hilarious read- ... 773&sr=8-1. With a title like "Mother on Fire", you can imagine what the story is about :D

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