Forget Tiger Moms, Here’s 5 Things You Can Learn From Japanese Parenting Culture

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Forget Tiger Moms, Here’s 5 Things You Can Learn From Japanese Parenting Culture


Reading Time: 5 minutes

As many would attest, raising a child well is not easy. Although there is no one size fit all approach, there are some methods so may argue are objectively worse than others. I’m sure you would have heard about American author and lawyer Amy Chua who wrote the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011This gave birth to and popularised the concept and term ‘Tiger Mom.’ which was said to have inspired TV series about Tiger Mums in Singapore, Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Naturally, Amy generated a lot of controversy with anecdotes like “The Little White Donkey” where she told her daughter to “stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.” They then “work[ed] right through dinner” without letting her daughter “get up, not for water, not even for bathroom breaks.” She also described a tiger mom being someone who is a stern, no-nonsense disciplinarian. This topic gained so much popularity that University of Texas at Austin associate professor Su Yeong Kim, PhD, published a study about ‘tiger parenting’ on 444 Chinese-American families in northern California affected their children’s adjustment over eight years. This study recorded that children of tiger moms tend to have worse results and tend to be more depressed and emotionally detached from their parents. Full details of the study can be found here.

If you would like to avoid this, take a look east to Japan. Generally speaking, the Japanese firmly believe in graciousness, independence and self control. Hence, these values are taught to kids at a young age. If you’ve ever gone to Japan, you’d know how well-behaved the kids were and how generally everyone is respectful to one another. A lot of it can be attributed to the Japanese style of parenting which although not perfect, is working well. Thus, here are five things you can learn from the Japanese and some observations about Singapore.

Foster Independence From A Young Age

Photo by AC De Leon on Unsplash

For Amy Chua and her husband, their children were raised on a diet of enforced music practice after day, almost no co-curricular activities, bans on a thing like staying over at their friend’s house and a dose of punishment and shaming when their Mother’s high expectations were not met. This amount of control is contrasted to Japan where elementary school kids (age 7 onwards) are encouraged to be independent and travel to schools on their own. Japan’s absurdly low crime rate means this is safe as parents trust that the community, especially the elderly will help with looking out for kids. This absurdly low crime rate is also quite prevalent in Singapore, which means that this can be adopted as well.

‘Shitsuke’ Discipline

Image Credit: SGAG

Recently, the global phenomenon of using smartphones devices to appease children has become more popular. This is also very prevalent in Singapore as you can often see parents hand their children iPads when they kick up a fuss. When their child, such misbehaves in public, they often ask their kids to stop messing around and play with their phones to avoid public embarrassment. Although using a smart device is an easy fix, this is not healthy in the long term.

Whereas in Japan, the term “Shitsuke” which means “discipline”is used to describe how Japanese parents instil discipline in their kids. Kids in Japan can be seen to remain calm and contained in all situations and to always think of others before self and act accordingly, keeping peace throughout. When a kid is not getting what he/she wants, the parents would bring the kids to a private space, crouching behind walls and having quiet conversations with them, instead of escalating on the spot.

Healthy Eating

Image Credit: New Age Parents

In 2015 they were more working women in Singapore than Japan, As more Singaporean women are working, it is harder for them to prepare lunch for their children and most would prefer for their children to eat in the canteen due to a lack of team.

However, in Japan many moms literally wakes up before sunrise to prepare meals that are not only nutritious, but appealing and enticing to consume.  The humble bento box represents the mother’s love and even a representation of the mother herself. Admittedly, there is a lot of cultural pressure from moms to make cute bentos but I would like to think that they do it out of love. Here are some of the benefits.

1. Appreciation
Making a good bento for your child will make them be proud of their own meal and to the person who made it for them.

2. Nutrition
Kids are encouraged to eat more healthy fruits due to its enticing appearance, giving them the nutrition they need to grow-up strong and healthy. Furthermore, bento are made with fresh ingredients that contain very little additives and would save your family money in the long run as well.

Praise the right way

Although Singapore and Japan share a hyper-competitive school environment, the way praise is given differs quite a bit. With Singaporeans, there is the tendency to focus on ability and academic performance as it is ingrained in our culture.

However, the Japanese do it differently as they praise and validate their children based on the effort they put in and not just their ability. Japanese parents celebrate accomplishments in school no matter how small. This is not because the child is seen as smart, but because the child has put in the hours. This is great for a child as it provides a comforting environment where the child thinks that he can do just as well due to the loving support of the parents.

Put your confidence in your child not because he or she is gifted but because he or she is hardworking and dependable which is a trait that’s a better indicator of success.

  • Be Mindful of Your Actions Causing Pressure

A study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that Singapore students suffer from high levels of anxiety as a higher percentage of them tend to stress about tests and grades in comparison with the OCED average. This stress goes both ways as well as a parent, you’ll want what is best for your child.

However, although this intention may be good your actions may sometimes come across as pressure on your children. Maybe you want to give your child what you did not have while growing up, but it is also important to ask them if they enjoy what they are doing. Give them more room to grow and be more mindful and aware of what your effect your actions have on your kids. If you are feeling too drained remember that self care is important as well as you do not want to transfer your stress to your children. Parents we got your back, if you didn’t already know, tea is a great stress  reliever. Lavender tea improves your mood, provides stress relief and fights insomnia. Best part you can drink it from this elegant pot here!

1L Heatproof Pot with Infuser

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