Tiger parenting

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Tiger parenting is a term which refers to a strict or demanding parents who push their children to be successful academically by attaining high levels of scholastic and academic achievement, using methods regarded as typical of childrearing in areas of East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.[1][2][3][4] The term was coined by Yale law professor Amy Chua in her 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.[5]


While "tiger mother" is a generic term for the phenomenon, representing a concept that was not commonly known until the publication of Chua's (2011) book, the broader phrase "tiger parenting" also acknowledges the fact that fathers or other parent-figures can also instigate, participate in, or be accomplices to the behavior.[6][7]

Harsh regimen[edit]

Parents who set up rules that overstep conventional parental boundaries are regarded as either tiger mothers or (less commonly) tiger fathers. Tiger parents prioritize schoolwork above all else and only allow children to participate in activities in order to potentially win awards[1][8] which they believe will increase the chance of the child's acceptance to the best schools. It is said that "Asian American parents provide a constant wind beneath their children's wings";[9] meaning tiger parents constantly propel their children towards excellence.


Tiger parents emphasize excellence in academia and award-winning non-academic achievements such as performing classical music instruments. Some also choose to incorporate competitive sports for their children.[10] This unusually high level of expectations may stem from parental love and care, as well as a strong desire to pave the way for their children’s future success.

Psychological control[edit]

Tiger parents may try to maintain higher levels of psychological control over their children than other parents. Tempering a child's self-esteem may be part of this strategy. In her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua mentioned that she yelled at her daughters, calling them ‘garbage’ in public.[1] It has been shown that tiger parents are less likely than other parents to compliment their children in public as well.[10] Children raised by tiger parents may be met with emotional threats and low-impact physical punishments if they fail to meet their parents' expectation.[11][not in citation given] Moreover, some tiger parents do not allow their children to make some decisions on their own, whether in academia or daily life. For instance, Chua's daughters were not allowed to watch TV at night or have sleepovers with their schoolmates.[1]


Living up to the Asian standard[edit]

Tiger parents have high expectations and may harbor elitist an snobbish views regarding their children’s academic performance. In some cases these expectations may be held regardless of the child's aptitude or passion for studying. Tiger parents may exhibit harsh and unrealistic expectations for the child's academic performance where "B" and even mid to low end "A" grades are not tolerated.[12]

Tiger parents put a heavy emphasis on the pursuit of academic success. Tiger parents eschew the lax parenting style exhibited by many Western parents. Tiger parents may impose choices on their children as to which interests they choose to pursue. Some argue that this approach will restrict their children's ability to discover their individual talents and passions thus denying a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and purpose. Advocates for tiger parents suggest that their parenting strategy imbues children with self-control and self-discipline. Tiger parents may fill up their children’s schedule with tutorial classes (taught by private tutors and/or cram school instructors) and extracurricular activities. Slacking off may be strictly forbidden.[1]

Exam-oriented education[edit]

Asian countries often adopt a strict exam-oriented approach in teaching, which encourages rote memorization. Some argue that this approach encourages uniformity while eschewing creativity, questioning, student participation, self-determination, autonomy, diversity and critical or independent thinking. Tiger parents often put children in tutorial classes as early as the preschool stage. Typically, throughout the child's academic career, the mother's attempts to help the child obtain outstanding results in exams to secure a seat in prestigious schools, with the end goal of entering a top-notch university in mind.

Cultural influences[edit]

In East Asian societies, a higher education level is perceived as a guarantee of promising career prospects; and as a tool to climb up the socioeconomic ladder or to lift a family out of poverty. In the classical Chinese anthologies Analects of Confucius by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius in the 5th century BC, education is a central theme in the book with philosophical ideas and sayings that placed great value on work ethic and the pursuit of knowledge. The Confucian ideal argued that education is a passport to higher socioeconomic status and wealth. In ancient and medieval East Asian societies, Scholar-officials had a high social status and intellectuals were held in high esteem, well above than that of wealthy landowners, businessmen, and merchants. Thus, tiger parents pin high hope on their children, taking much pride in their children's academic achievements and may flaunt them to other parents when comparing their own children with the academic achievements of others. Chinese immigrant parents in the West may believe that "high academic achievement" reflects "successful parenting".[1] One historical explanation for the strict examination approach stems from the Imperial examination system of China for civil service government positions. Success in the civil examination administered by the royal court was seen as a sure conduit improve a family’s socioeconomic position. Since such positions were scarce with many applicants applying for few opening positions, competition was fierce and these positions were highly coveted, as only a select few could succeed and attain them. Tiger parents recognize how crucial self-discipline is in gaining success, so they may try to instill the value of an exam oriented education into their children as early as possible.[13]

Views on success[edit]

Tiger parents perceive a definition of success that is rooted in a high level of academic and intellectual achievement. This may include classical music training or extracurricular achievement, including those with competitive structures and awards systems. This kind of early life training may be thought to lead to lucrative, prestigious, and rewarding white collar professional careers. Tiger parents may look down on careers beneath their expectations - that is a plumber may be viewed as less socially respectable than a neurosurgeon.[14]


Advocates suggest a strict approach to parenting produces an exceptionally high proportion of top performers – children who display academic excellence across the board with great musical ability and professional success later in life.[15] In a three-part series on competition in Hong Kong's education system by the South China Morning Post, many Hong Kong parents revealed that cultural fears over economic hardship motivated them to begin thinking of their children's futures as professionals soon after birth, striving to find the best playgroups, and encouraging competition among children in academia, sports and music, in the belief that this fosters competitiveness and increases their children's chances of entering into a better pre-nursery school and elite kindergarten, and determine their eventual success at primary schools, secondary schools and universities. However, many other Hong Kong parents, psychologists and educators assert that pushing children too hard does not work, and can even harm children. There is a growing trend of children aged five to 12 seeking psychiatric help and even contemplating suicide. In reaction, some parents have relaxed their formerly strict discipline with their children, and some schools have made their admissions requirements less strenuous.[16]

According to some sources, children raised under an strict, controlling, and punitive tiger mother will suffer a chronic social and psychological toll. This included some young Asians as well as children from immigrant families of Asian ancestry who live in other parts of the world outside Asia. Children raised with a less supportive type of parenting have developed chronic mental health and psychiatric problems such as anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and contemplation of suicide. These mental health and psychiatric problems may create psychological problems that make these children feel like "failures".[17] When parents do not provide coping strategies to their children and guide alongside to manage negative feelings, such loneliness may transition into depression and suicide.[18]

Some sources wholly or partially blame tiger parenting for high rates of suicide in Asia, particularly South Korea, which has some of the highest suicide rates in the developed world.[19] In South Korea, stress from constant study and limited social life pressured by harsh and demanding parents on a student may be taking a psychological and social toll on younger generations, causing an increase in aggression, mental health problems, impaired cognitive development, and drug and alcohol abuse. Other adverse effects, such as depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, and increased risk of physical abuse, have also been linked to the increasing amount of academic pressure placed on young South Koreans.[20] The stress resulting from mounting academic pressure may have contributed to an increase in the national suicide rate, particularly for children aged 10 to 19 years old. Suicide is now the second most common cause of death in the country.

The tiger parents' belief in the importance of academics [21] on its students is considered by many to constitute child abuse is seen as acceptable by some Asian parents.[22][23] Many have described their traditions as including physical and emotional closeness that ensures a lifelong bond between parent and child, as well as establishing parental authority and child obedience through discipline.[24]

Balancing disciplinary responsibilities through violence within parenting is common in many Asian cultures, including China, Pakistan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.[24] To some cultures, violent parenting may be seen as abuse, but in other societies such as these, the use of violence is looked at as a reflection of parental devotion.[24] Severe forms of violence may include spanking or slapping the child with an open hand or striking with an available household implement such as a belt, slipper, cane, clothes hanger, meterstick, hairbrush, paddle or bamboo feather duster.

According to the sources cited by the website Parenting Science, children from authoritarian families may find it more difficult to fend for themselves and make friends,[25] but whether or not most families with tiger parent could be considered authoritarian is a matter of debate. Studies published by the Handbook of Child Psychology have shown that children under tiger parenting were rated as less helpful and less popular by their teachers and classmates.[26][pages needed] Also, they are more likely to show aggressive behavior towards others when they are forced to learn without recess. They were rated as less self-reliant and are not able to be independent thinkers since their life is organized by their parents.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]


TV series[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chua, A. (2011). Battle hymn of the tiger mother. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-1-59420-284-1. 
  2. ^ "Tiger Mums: fierce or foolish?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 
  3. ^ "A tiger mom's tale". Vietnam News. Vietnam News. 
  4. ^ "Testing times: selective schools and tiger parents". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 
  5. ^ Kim, S. "What is "tiger" parenting? How does it affect children?". American Psychological Association. 
  6. ^ "What is "tiger" parenting? How does it affect children?". Retrieved 2018-02-13. 
  7. ^ Kim, Su Yeong; Wang, Yijie; Orozco-Lapray, Diana; Shen, Yishan; Murtuza, Mohammed (2013-03-01). "Does "Tiger Parenting" Exist? Parenting Profiles of Chinese Americans and Adolescent Developmental Outcomes". Asian American journal of psychology. 4 (1): 7–18. doi:10.1037/a0030612. ISSN 1948-1985. PMC 3641860Freely accessible. PMID 23646228. 
  8. ^ Mann, D. "16 Signs you're too strict with your kids". WebMD. 
  9. ^ Prigg, M. "The tiger mom doesn't know the best: Researchers find Western parenting methods are just as effective". Daily Mail. 
  10. ^ a b Rende, R. "Evaluating "Tiger Mom" parenting: What's the take-home message from research?". Parents. 
  11. ^ State, A. "Anxious kids: Why the 'tiger' mom tactic fails". Futurity. 
  12. ^ Marquez, L. "UCLA sociologist zeroes in on what motivates 'tiger moms'". UCLA Newsroom. 
  13. ^ Carey, T. "How Chinese success in education comes at a high cost". NewStatesMan. 
  14. ^ "Peaceful Song of the Panda Mom". New Idea Publishers, LLC. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  15. ^ Maxwell, K. "Tiger Mother". Macmillan Dictionary. Macmillan Publishers Limited. 
  16. ^ Zhao, S. "Hong Kong parents say pushing children too hard doesn't work". South China Morning Post. 
  17. ^ "Tiger Parenting Works, But At What Cost?". Medical Daily. 2014-09-23. Retrieved 2016-11-14. 
  18. ^ Markham, L. "What's Wrong With Strict Parenting?". Aha! Parenting. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  19. ^ "South Korean students wracked with stress". Al Jazeera. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  20. ^ "We don't need quite so much education". The Economist. 2011-05-12. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2016-11-10. 
  21. ^ Kang, Yewon (20 March 2014). "Poll Shows Half of Korean Teenagers Have Suicidal Thoughts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 April 2016. 
  22. ^ Koo, Se-Woong (1 August 2014). "An Assault Upon Our Children". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  23. ^ Ravitch, Diane (3 August 2014). "Why We Should Not Copy Education in South Korea". Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c Lau, A. S., Takeuchi, D. T., & Alegría, M. (2006). Parent-to-child aggression among Asian American parents: Culture, context, and vulnerability. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(5), 1261–1275. Retrieved
  25. ^ Dewar, G. "Authoritarian parenting: How does it affect the kids?". Parenting Science. 
  26. ^ Damon, W.; Lerner, R. M.; Eisenberg, N. (2006). Handbook of Child Psychology, Social, Emotional, and Personality Development. Google Books. ISBN 978-0-471-27290-8.