Getting children into shape, army style

A colleague with a two-year old grinned at me and agreed with the idea that you can't be that tough with a little one.

By Harveena Herr

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Published: Mon 28 Aug 2017, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Aug 2017, 11:00 PM

Many of our readers would have seen a recent video of a child, barely three years old, being taught math by her mum. Can I confess that I saw a mere half-minute of that and found myself having to move away from a friend's computer screen, my eyes damp.
And the sound wasn't even on. My heart reached out to the child, and my first thought was, 'Can I adopt this baby?' I was furious with the mother for slapping the child for not counting from one to five. That was harsh. The kid's entreaties didn't get her anywhere, and she seemed to be begging her mother to stop, folding her hands....
A colleague with a two-year old grinned at me and agreed with the idea that you can't be that tough with a little one. Her point was - and she spoke with a position of authority since her child was closer in age to the subject in the video - kids can be drama queens. So I should shake out the emotion a bit and hang it out to dry.
Who remembers a title called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - a book written by Amy Chua who has a day job as a practising lawyer, that reached the top of the bestseller lists? Despite the success, it was a polarising work. While liberal western parents gazed in horror at the abyss of "Chinese parenting," some observed in a daze that it was possibly a better way to raise and educate what were otherwise self-indulgent and entitled kids. Much of the hype was based on the initial portion of the story where Chua follows the 'traditional' method of parenting, which is how she was raised. Not much light was shed on the fact that she toned down her approach because her younger daughter rebelled against this very strict and relentless approach to learning. Says Chua on her website: "I'm not holding myself out as a model, but I do believe that we in America can ask more of children than we typically do, and they will not only respond to the challenge, but thrive.
"I think we should assume strength in our children, not weakness. And I think it is 100 per cent all-American to do so!"
Where does that leave us? If you tend to repeat the parenting styles of your parents, does it make the practice better?
Because that's how you were raised? Do you want to raise a child with a love for learning, and a natural curiosity? That can't possibly grow on a foundation of fear. Or do you see your task, your 'job' as a parent to be a disciplinarian, "because it's for your own good". Tighten your halo, you look smug.
Now that video of the bawling baby, I still don't feel comfortable with it - who was shooting it, btw - and the fact that the uncle of the child defended his sister's handling of her kid serves up a fresh slice of annoyance. Whether they intended to or not, that crying baby is public. And the public glare can be awfully judgemental.

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