Dr. Cixin Wang, a UCR professor at the Graduate School of Education, recently helped complete a study to determine the effects of punitive parenting, also known as “tiger parenting,” on Chinese youths. The study showed that while strict parenting can help with the success of children, supportive parenting is very important in adolescent development.
The study, which began in 2006, surveyed a group of 589 Chinese adolescents in Hangzhou, China between the ages of 12 to 18. The survey asked questions about the methods their parents used as punishment and support for their child. The questions ranged from: “This parent avoids looking at me when I have disappointed him/her” to “This parent knows how I spend my money.”
The study found that punitive parenting styles caused depression, behavioral issues and problems with school adjustment among surveyed youths. Differences among gender were also displayed in the study; boys were shown to display more disruptive behavior, while girls were shown to have more depressive symptoms.
Wang stated that “Asian parents tend to score a little bit higher on the control measure compared to white parents … However, within the same cultur(al) group, there is large variations so (the results are) not unique or specific to the Chinese culture.”
The professor also added that not all methods of parental control — such as placing curfews and holding high expectations — can cause visibly negative outcomes, but rather, “psychological control in which you manipulate kids’ thoughts and fears, so that you might force them into things,” was found to have adverse effects on children.
A parent’s level of supportiveness may also be tied to particular cultural differences. “For Asian parents, they praise their kids less often because they tend to be more humble (so) there might be a culture difference of whether it’s okay to express emotions in public,” Wang stated. This, however, does not mean that the parents are not as supportive of their kids, just that they are less likely to praise them in public, Wang clarified further.
Some students have different views on how overly strict parenting may have affected them. “I believe strict parenting would’ve helped me,” stated Raul Aguilera, a senior English major. “I had too much freedom and I had to pay some of the consequences.”
While the study was done abroad in China, Wang has expressed interest in continuing the study with Asian parents and children in the United States in the future.