Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua’s controversial 2011 book, advocates a highly controlling and often punitive style of parenting. A new study that looked specifically at this “tiger parent” style of parenting has found that it increases problem behaviors in children and may lead to mental health concerns.
How Punitive Parenting Affects Children
Previous research suggests that Chinese parenting styles differ from American parenting styles. Many Chinese parents believe that controlling their children’s behavior is a sign of support and love. Consequently, some Chinese parents show less affection toward their children while behaving in more controlling ways—a parenting style commonly known as authoritarian parenting.
Although past research has suggested that this parenting style is damaging to American children, cultural norms play a huge part in influencing the way parenting affects children. Cixin Wang, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at UC Riverside, grew up in China and wanted to examine whether authoritarian parenting styles were hard on Chinese children.
The study surveyed 589 middle and high school students in Hangzhou, China. Children reported on their parents’ parenting style and behavior, as well as their own academic performance, self-esteem, and behavior. Children with punitive “tiger” parents had lower self-esteem and more difficulty adjusting to the demands of school. They also displayed more problem behaviors and were more likely to experience depression. Psychological control techniques, particularly withdrawing love, were especially problematic. These kinds of psychological control techniques are similar to those advocated by Chua in her book.
Which Parenting Style Is Best?
Though the study found that punitive parenting negatively affected children, excessive permissiveness by parents was also linked to negative outcomes for kids. Previous research on Western children has uncovered similar correlations. Child psychologists often measure parenting style by evaluating two factors: warmth and control. Parents deficient in either behavior tend to generate worse outcomes for kids. For example, parents who are low in warmth and control may tend to be neglectful.
While the latest study did not provide information about the “right” parenting style for Chinese children, it does suggest that Chinese children have similar needs to the American kids from other studies. Research on parenting demonstrates that authoritative parents who are high on both warmth and control get the best outcomes.
- Hold on, tiger mom: Punitive parenting may lead to mental health risks. (2014, September 23). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140922130745.htm
- Parenting styles: A guide for the science-minded. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.parentingscience.com/parenting-styles.html
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