In January 2011, Amy Chua, a Professor of Law at Yale University, published The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where she espoused a philosophy of unrelenting pressure, drive, motivation, organization and planning from parents as the best way to help children achieve lofty goals. According to Prof. Chua this rigorous ‘Chinese’ parenting model effectively moulds children into tenacious achievers through a focus on academic results whereas more ‘Western’ parenting, through a focus on process and praise is much more likely to produce unmotivated, low achieving, complacent children.
Unfortunately there is a fatal flaw in this argument and it is simply that the more you do for your children the less they learn to do for themselves.
Through helping to bring up my own four children and my own work with many thousands of students, parents and teachers world-wide, I have discovered that there are a set of key skills that every student needs, whether at school or university, to achieve academic success. The problem with the Tiger Mother philosophy is that it is the parent who is practicing the key learning skills, not the child. Many children these days grow up learning how to achieve by working to someone else’s regime of study rather than their own and in spite of gaining academic success are not learning how to learn for themselves. Through over-supporting our children to achieve goals we may well be making them more helpless and when they need to be able to learn for themselves, when they are in the workforce, striving for financial success, maybe they won’t know how to.
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