My father was a huge disciplinarian and I thank my mom every day for having the sense to get away from him early on. Some of the scars from his mistreatment will probably stick with me my whole life. My mom's methods stick with me too -- in a positive way. While yelling, spanking, demanding and other forceful methods my dad used got me to obey at the time, they actually taught me nothing, other than that he was not a very nice person. My mom's more positive methods taught me too. They actually taught me important life lessons that stick with me today.
There are several things Chua never allowed her daughters to do. These included play dates, performing in a school play (and they could not complain about this), be less than No. 1 in every subject (except gym and drama), and refuse to play the violin and piano. These two instruments were a requirement, and long and rigorous practices happened every day, leaving the kids no time for play. In her book, she states this is the normal way children are raised in Eastern cultures. She believes Westerners have it all wrong.
The fact the children were not allowed to make play dates -- and did not even have time for play, anyway -- is appalling. Children need to play. It helps develop important social and life skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that play is crucial to cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being.
My child-rearing methods are a complete about-face of Chua's. I currently am raising my children in Colorado. They are also educated from home sometimes. So perhaps I fit the "Westerner" mentality she seems to loathe. I believe in gaining respect by giving it. I also believe children have the right to decide their own beliefs and interests. Through my self-developed positive parenting methods, my children are educated through nature, books and play and are taught to be independent thinkers.
During music practice, Chua actually says to her daughter "Oh, my God, you're just getting worse and worse." How is she supposed to be encouraged to continue? If a child really feels she is just getting worse, she may also feel there is no point in going further. In line with my positive parenting techniques, I would suggest a parent instead find a way to make learning the proper notes easier.
When my kids are struggling with a subject, I like to create games that draw their interest, as well as teach the skill they need to learn. For instance, I have used basketball to enhance study time, made math fun with music, and so much more. I find that children are more receptive to learning when it is presented as something fun, rather than as a chore. I also do not force it on them and because of the lack of pressure and the entertainment involved, my children thoroughly enjoy learning. There is a huge difference between encouraging educational responsibility in children and treating them like property.
Note: The author's positive parenting method has evolved into what she calls Upstream Parenting.
(This was originally published on Yahoo News via Yahoo Contributor Network)
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