The roar from Amy Chua’s much-discussed book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has quieted since its 2011 release, but questions still remain as to how a stereotypically Asian parenting style leads to academic success—and at what cost.
Researchers from the University of Illinois recently studied the main differences between American and Chinese parents when it comes to promoting academics. They found that those of Chinese descent tend to be more involved in their children’s education from an early age and provide more supplemental learning opportunities, but they’re also more critical and demanding, which can cause kids to have a lowered sense of self-worth.
American parents, on the other hand, try so hard not to be critical that they tend to downplay mistakes to the point where kids don’t learn from them. Evidence suggests that children can benefit from both styles of parenting, says the study’s lead author, Eva M. Pomerantz, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois.
Pomerantz admits to being very American in the way she approaches parenting: “The world outside gives you enough negative feedback,” she says. She also emphasizes that giving support and showing empathy when your kids make mistakes isn’t necessarily enough: “We also need to take it a step further and help them understand what they can do better next time.”