Saturday, 2 February 2013

Lets talk about "Tiger Mothers" .......

We all know one.  In fact, you may even be one and depending on where you live you may know several.  In my side of London suburbia, I know plenty.  I am of course, talking about the "tiger mother" or "pushy parent:

The Oxford Dictionary definition of a Tiger Mother is:

Tiger Mother - Noun 

"a strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to high levels of achievement, using methods regarded as typical of childrearing in China and other parts of East Asia"

 A few years ago when Beansy was aged 5, I was shocked to find out that one of his friends were being tutored.  It wasn't something that was ever spoken about between parents, but the child was very open about going to his tutor as he wanted to go to X school.  Now this X school happens to be one of the best Grammar schools in the Country, yet this child who was just 5 at the time, went on to tell me that he had to study very hard to get in and that he had to do exams at home so he was used to practising.  I was gobsmacked to say the least.I have nothing against tutoring whatsoever, if any of my children were struggling in a subject, I would be the first to get some additional help,  but I strongly believe that if a child needs to be tutored to get into a school, what on earth is going to happen to them once they are there?  Will the parents have to carry on tutoring in order for their child to keep up?  How much pressure will that put on the child?I've then watched as more and more parents take on more and more extra curricular activities in order to be "one step ahead" of the game.  All of my children do extra curriculum activities, but I break it down into Summer and Winter sports.  They have two nights of a week and I actively encourage them to have "downtime".  When they are "chillaxing" they will get out a board game, or help me in the kitchen or even just *shock* lie on the sofa and watch kids TV.  However, other children I know, go straight from school then onto at least 2 sometimes 3 activities per night.  EVERY NIGHT.These children don't have a chance to unwind, the majority have poor social skills (maybe to busy being hurried around to actually sit and chat?) and they all look exhausted.As for the mothers, well harassed is being polite!
So why are they doing this?  Is it to fulfill their own ambitions?  A fear of not "keeping up with the Jones?"
I used to think that getting my kids into the "best" (results driven) private school or grammar was a matter of life or death, especially as HAW and I both went to very good schools, heck my school is the best for girls in the country and HAW's is attended by Royalty, yes it is a wonderful achievement but the pressure to perform?  Way to high.   I'm not sure I want to put my kids through that.  Would you?
Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo



  1. I know a child who has maths tutoring because they're not in the top group, even though they're probably still at the level expected of a child their age. They're 7. Drives me mad.

    I am with you. My two do one main activity a week. We can't really afford more. Missy does two dance lessons on the same evening and Monkey does swimming on the same night. Another night, I go to Body Pump so they go in the club at the gym doing activity but it's not organised in the same way as going to lessons or a group would be. The other days, they are free - this allows us to have friends round for tea, and for them to relax, and be kids, which is something people seem to forget. (And get the small amount of homework done that they get - basically, it's just reading with me, practising their spellings and a maths sheet once a week.) I know at least one other child who is only free one evening a week because they are doing something every other night. Madness - if nothing else, it would drive ME mad as OH goes to work for 5pm Monday to Thursday so I would be taxi. I find it hard enough to fit everything in between school and bedtime as it is, and things like eating tea properly would suffer.

  2. Super Amazing Mum2 February 2013 at 20:26

    Thank you for taking the time to reply - I have really changed my way of thinking lately, and it is so obvious that a lot of these kids are being pushed by the parents to fulfill "their" ambitions rather than their kids. I am a firm believer in giving our kids the opportunity to try new things, but not at the expense of the overall wellbeing. Prime example this week, a child was in absolute hysterics because she didn't get 20/20 on her spellings - she got 17 (!) and it was quite clear from what she was saying, that she felt like a failure. She is 7 BTW. I also wonder if it is more prevalent down here in London......

  3. Yes, we take that approach. We tell the children that all we expect them to do at school is try their best and the only time I get cross with them is if they are clearly NOT trying. They put pressure on themselves if they don’t get 10 out of 10 in their spellings but I tell them – that’s OK, you can’t get them all right, you’re at school to learn. Sometimes I wonder if the pressure comes from school – Ofsted put so much pressure on them as they received a Satisfactory last inspection, they are under pressure to show they are achieving and as mine are doing well, they want to show they can push them on a bit.

    We have never pushed them into anything. Monkey was doing football until Christmas but he lost interest in it and refused to go after half term. I tried to encourage him to go for the last time to say goodbye but he didn’t, which is why he’s doing swimming again now and he adores it. Missy does cheerleading if she’s in the club on Saturday morning and Monkey cannot wait until he’s 8 next month so he can do junior spinning at the gym!

    At weekends, mine even go to play out! One went out to play “Family Tag” earlier. I am clearly an unfit mother!

  4. My oldest has just two activities after school. Football club is with the school and theatre school.My middle child has change 4 life club with the school.My youngest did do story telling for half an hour but finds it boring.My older two both have spellings and home work to do each week so I think any more than two after school activities wouldn't be fair both on them or me.

  5. Thanks for commenting and sharing Aly - I am now wondering do mine do to much? Eldest, 9 does football 2x week (one training, one match) and rugby x the same. HE also does chess club at school and rock school on a friday (learns electric guitar). In summer, we substitute the footy and rugby with golf and tennis....Middle aged 6 does same football/rugby chess at school and beavers and swimming....when I type it out like that it sounds like a lot... •ponders•

  6. hey u, first i read it as 'tortured'! but perhaps a similar thing. we're overloading kids. what happened to amusing themselves or learning to use your imagination. every second of every day has to be filled doing something. they need time out! they need to know whatever they do, however well or averagely, that as long as they can say they have tried, then that's the important thing. being able to be honest with themselves...any way, mine have fun, do the odd thing, dance once a week for girls, st john's ambulance training all of them once a week and monster does a boys hang out zone. ezza is too little. anyway...see u saturday!! YEY! hope my eyes are less puffy for it! xxx

  7. I think where we (SuperAmazingMum) live is a particularly unique in this hot housing of kids as we live in a borough with grammar schools, I would very surprised if tutoring at such a young age occurs across Britain, rather that it is confined to areas where academic competition exists and very affluent postcodes.

    The trouble is a lot of ex-grammar school pupils stay locally and when they have kids they expect their children to 'get to grammar' and that the local comp is inadequate/rough etc because it's what they know and they judge schools based on what they knew about then 20 years ago rather than the actual reality. My eldest is at the local comp and thriving, he's on their gift and talented scheme for many subjects and is supported in a variety of ways. This might make me a tiger mum but I look forward to GCSE results days and feeling proud of my son's hard work and achievements and being able to stick two fingers up at the snobs who turned their noses up at the local comp! Actually that probably makes me a bitter bitch rather than tiger mum!!!

  8. No I don't think children should be overly pushed (and I'm saying this as someone who was until very recently a teacher). I think instilling an 'always try your best at whatever you do' value is important, but cracking the whip just causes misery when the child really isn't up to it. They all have different talents and I'm not meaning that in a wishy washy right-on kind of way - I genuinely mean it. I can't think of anything sadder than a child not being able to enjoy his or her childhood because they are somehow made to feel inadequate by the people who are meant to love them unconditionally. x

  9. Kids need to be kids as well as learning the formal stuff. I fear over pushed kids will rebel as teenagers.


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