Are you a Dolphin Dad or a Tiger Mum?
Are these expressions that you have heard of before? Back in 2011, Amy Chua brought out her book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’. The message behind it was all about raising your children in a strict no nonsense way. According to her it gave “the best results” The concept of the book was all about losing the television, and stopping them playing with friends, and not accepting any exam or test result that was less than an “A” grade. You may think of it as her suggesting that you are a pushy parent!
Chua wrote about how she raised her own daughter telling stories about how she rejected a home made card when she was 4 years old because it was carelessly drawn. She also said she would burn her stuffed animals if her piano playing did not improve. Is it sounding like a way that seems to help a child to you?!
Of course that was just one point of view and Shawn Achor, a happiness researcher at Wharton Business School in the United States, says that his studies show that a more positive and encouraging attitude from parents can actually help children to achieve their full potential.
His thoughts are that success follows on from happiness, and not the other way around. In order to be happy you have to adjust your perspective.
It is interesting to note that research in America shows that when sitting end of school exams, the fewer people there are in the room, the better the test results of the children. This is because it appears to the child that there are fewer people to compete with in the room, so they start to think that there is a greater likelihood of success. This in turn means that they have a better performance through improved concentration and engagement in the test. It's something to think about isn't it.
How can you use these ideas with your own children?
Shawn Achor says that you can use something he calls... “Rational Optimism”.
So you can help your children to achieve their goals through positive encouragement. Of course this is what many of us who are good parents have been doing for a long time !
He does come up with some interesting and new ways to get their engagement. How about hiding the television remote control in your child’s trainers if you want them to get out more, or letting them do their homework in their favourite pyjamas?
It is also great to set an optimistic example for your kids by ensuring that you have five positive interactions for every negative one. The more you practice the positive the easier it becomes and children are always very open to change.
These theories are backed up by a study in the Asian American Journal of Psychology. The study found that ‘tiger kids’ had a lower grade average, and also suffered from more academic pressure with depressive symptoms and a greater sense of alienation.
How do you engage with your child? Is it something that you need to think about? Is everything you do positive and happy.
Of course, raising children isn’t easy and everyone has their own ideas. The important thing is that you feel comfortable with what you are doing, and if you don’t, then never worry about seeking and asking for help. One of the things that makes therapists different from many people isn't that we have no problems, it's that we seek help for them knowing it is the best thing to do. You don't need to do anything alone.
Remember, your children are children, so taking time to spend with them just playing and engaging in activities is never wasted time.
Enjoy their childhood, encourage and support them, you will all do just fine !