Too-strict parenting causes anxiety and low self-esteem

Pressure and expectation make children high achievers but at the expense of their happiness, according to new research by a ‘rival Tiger mum’

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Pushing your children too hard at school and packing their spare time with after-school activities could be doing more harm than good, a new study concludes – and let’s face it, we’re not that surprised.

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A year after Amy Chua encouraged parents to take a tougher line with their children, in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, another parenting academic and Chinese-American mum, has challenged the idea.

“Amy said Western children are not happier than Chinese ones,” Professor Desiree Baolian Qin told the New York Daily News. “But at the same time, research from our study does show that when parents place a lot of pressure on their kids, the children are less happy.”

Professor Desiree talked to 500 European and Chinese-American students at a prestigious East Coast high school in the US. She asked the students about their attitude towards school work and their grades and how they discussed them with their parents.

The Chinese-American students indicated they were more depressed and had lower self-esteem and were less happy than their European peers, as well as having higher anxiety levels.

“After my parents lecture me, the least effect on me would be low self-esteem,” said Ming, one of the student interviewed. “But the worst would be real depression.”

Professor Desiree added that of course education is important, but parents should remember that emotional health and social skills play a major role in children’s success as they grow into adults.

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