Much can be said about the many different types of parenting styles parents adopt and the respective consequences on a child’s upbringing. It all boils down to the approach taken by parents on how they choose to raise their kid, namely the soft approach, the moderate approach, the slightly strict or the hardcore tough approach. While some may wonder why, will anyone, want to adopt any kind of hard or tough approaches in handling a child, a handful may beg to differ. The question here is, what is the objective of adopting a certain parenting style and what do parents aim to achieve by their chosen way to bring up their offspring?
People tend to think that strict parenting and harsh discipline lead to more well-behaved kids. Seen from an external behavioural point of view, they may be right. Kids of very strict parents may seem polite, obedient, easy to manage and ever so compliant for they do as they are told and rarely (if not never!) disobey! Out of all the afore mentioned ‘qualities’, obedience is what most parents prize above all else. Why? Because it makes their own lives much easier – It’s as simple as that!
Will tiger-parenting benefit a child?
While nothing would make a parent happier than to have a kid who will never say “No” or “Why must I?” or “Do I have to?”, what exactly are the consequences on the future of kids whose virtues lie heavily on doing as they’re told and never, ever, questioning anything in their lives? Can’t be too good for them, can it? If we look beyond external behaviour and adjust our spotlight to what’s going on inside of these children, we will see that tough or overly strict parenting styles may have severe existential and psychological consequences. Kids brought up this way are found to be lacking in self-esteem and what’s worse, their aim in life is simply to please others without giving much thought to what they want or need for themselves! In this aspect, the short term behavioural gain of obedience is heavily outweighed by the long-term psychological damage.
Adult-centred and conditional
Strict parenting does not focus much on meeting a child’s existential and emotional needs. Within this highly conservative, rule-orientated parenting style, freedom of thought is not encouraged and neither are creative experimentation and independent choice-making. Tiger parents are more concerned about their child living up to their own standards, norm-abiding ideas, consensus values and expectations.
The behavioural demands on the child is very high and the means of controlling children is by force. This leaves little room for affection, if any. It is an alarming paradox, actually, where a child is expected to behave in a ‘mature’ and ‘civilised’ manner while being treated like an inferior.
In strict parenting styles, harsh punishments are often meted out to keep a child from being disobedient, rebellious, questioning or breaking the rules. Children brought up this way are usually well-behaved out of fear … not they feel like behaving in that way or that they truly comprehend the meaning or virtues of a positive attitude.
In time, the lessons a child learn are:
- Love and acceptance is dependent on good behaviour
- If they behave, they will not be punished
Being overly strict is also risky, for it may undermine a child’s efforts to act decisively or imaginatively. They will be more concerned with parental approval and pleasing their parents. You could end up with an anxious, indecisive kid. Another scenario is that a kid retires to the fact that he or she will never hit the bar that is set so high, that they don’t even try.
8 Signs you are leaning towards overly strict parenting
1. You make ‘over-the-top’ threats – Your kids may fear you, but it’s hardly likely that they believe that you will throw them out of the house. If they do, it will affect them psychologically, while if they don’t they will just keep calling your bluff. While empty threats will bring nothing good when raising a child, fair warning though, followed by keeping to your words would be the best way to make a child sit up and listen. If a punishment has to be carried out, make sure it is accompanied by a clear explanation of why it has to be that way.
2. You make too many rules – When you make too many rules that it becomes impossible to enforce all of them, it’s a sign that you are just too strict for anyone’s good. It is also a sign of mistrust and fear of losing control, both not very applaudable in the world of parenting. Give due consideration about the rules you wish to set (not too many or too outrageous!) and be consistent about enforcing them.
3. You hardly watch your words – It would do you good to know that most kids are all ears when it comes to listening to what a cross parent has to say. Therefore, what you say is extremely important. Calm voices can say mean things that can damage a young spirit. No matter how angry you are at a child, resist the urge to use harsh language and let the content of your speech be void of negativity. Remember, positive words build positive minds and vice versa!
4. You ‘order and go’ – When you give children a difficult assignment or task, do work alongside them and guide them along. Just ordering that something be done by a certain time when you yourself are uncertain if your child can do it, will only bring disappointment to both parent and child. Instead, you can also foster a stronger relationship and valuable teamwork with your child by working alongside each other, guiding and encouraging him or her along.
5. Your child is all work and no play – Other than downtime to synthesise what they have learned, kids also need comfort (and fun) time to remain warmly human. A kid that is filled to the brim with skill, knowledge and information which he or she hardly uses is just learning for the sake of learning, absorbing facts without knowing what they mean. Playtime and games are just as important for kids to learn and develop in a well-rounded manner.
6. Your words make it sound like your love is conditional – A child should never be made to feel like a parent’s love should be earned. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in the trend of strict parenting. Remarks like “How do you expect me to be proud of you when you act like this?” or “I’m really fed up with you” are not advisable. They attack a child’s core and do more harm than good. Instead, try approaches like “I will always love you and I know you can do better.”
7. Your child does not confide in you – If your child is beginning to talk less and less about important matters to you, it could be a sign of anxiousness which is associated with tiger parenting. As kids grow older, the less they will wish to witness scenarios of their parents freaking out, no matter what’s happening in their lives. So, while you may have won the battle in getting your child to do as they’re told, you could be losing the war when you find yourself in the dark about important developments in your child’s life.
8. Your child is seen but not heard – What seemed like a virtue in the olden days might not necessarily be a good thing for modern kids, mainly because modern parents know better now than to run a tight ship when it comes to parenting. Opinions matter, for they help build character and individuality. Kids who are constantly silenced and not allowed to speak up may grow up to be insecure of their own capabilities and depend heavily on others for opinions and decisions.