A book at the library caught my eye because it promised me that it would help me stop being a tiger mom.

A tiger mom requires a constant level of high achievement from her child. I feel like my children have a high potential so I am tempted every day to push them towards academic work, and I know some of it is not healthy.

“The Dolphin Way”, by Shimi K. Kang is “A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids- Without Turning into a Tiger.” I want to remember the things I learn, so I’ll write them here.

Kang says that business leaders say creativity is the most important attribute for CEOs. And tiger cubs- children of tiger moms- are not creative. They have been trained to get the right answer at all costs, so coming up with many right answers is not in their skill set. Tiger cubs can’t solve problems, because their moms solved all their problems so they could focus on studying. They can’t work together, because groups are likely to bring down their grade so they avoid them.

Some creativity killers are

  • lack of free time
  • stress
  • external pressure
  • fear

Twenty years ago, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple were not even imagined. Today’s children will have jobs in industries that haven’t even been invented yet. In the nineteenth century, knowledge was scarce, so remembering facts was a useful skill. The Prussian empire wanted to train a military administration, so they created a system where children sit at desks while an adult talks at them and then they repeat back what the adult said. The kinds of students this system produces are no longer useful. They are either burnt out or too fragile. Tiger moms are obsessed with IQ, and there’s good emphasis on EQ (emotional quotient), but she has a list of qualities that are really important in a twenty-first century economy. All of these attributes start with a C, so she called them CQ.

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Kang asked me, “Are you picking their clothes, classes, and careers?”

She recommended children not attend a college whose admission process will destroy the child. She told a story of talking to a friend who was stressing about her daughter’s grades and admissions prospects. But then her friend said, “It doesn’t matter which one she gets into because they’re all good, and she’ll do great anywhere.”

The author advised against doing these things:

  • pushing
  • directing (as opposed to guiding teenagers)
  • hovering
  • rescuing
  • doing things for them they can do themselves
  • pressuring
  • setting goals for them without their input

Her acronym to help when there is conflict over whether a child will do a task: KEYS Kill the Tiger Empathize reframe the activity based in Your child’s goals express your confidence in their ability to Succeed

For example, breathe deeply and become curious about your response and theirs to stop being angry and forceful. Then say, “I’m sorry, I know it’s not very fun to talk to your friend about this problem (empathy). But you really like this friend and it’s imporant to you to keep the friendship (the child’s goals). You’ll be able to think of the right words, and I bet you’ll work things out (express faith in their ability to succeed)”

She says she is tempted to turn into a tiger when she sees another tiger mom and she’s afraid those tiger cubs will eat her children. :)

Shimi K. Kang is a mental health professional who rescues teenagers and families who are in dangerous emotional situations. She said the first step is to restore physical balance: sleeping and eating well. Then it’s important to play and contribute. She says childhood is the only foundation for life, and children need free time to properly develop.

For a child to be motivated, they need two things and usually we just focus on the first:

  1. Knowing something is important
  2. Feeling confident they can succeed.

Once the author’s couch leg broke, so her husband stuffed some books under it to prop it up. Her son said, meaningfully, that it’s not the best use for books and they’re getting squashed under the weight. It’s like when we push children into clothes, activities, classes, and careers they’re not meant to be in. They get squashed.

The book convinced me to try to stop my tiger habits, and gave me some good tips on how to start. How to start stopping.