• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 9:03pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 4:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 4:33am

Psychiatrist Shimi Kang offers the dolphin way to bring up children

Just being a parent is confusing and exhausting enough without all those conflicting parenting styles being sold by photogenic people with PhDs. They only serve as criticism to accentuate our shortcomings and ignorance.

Boy, have I ruined my kids' future by failing to play Bach and Mozart to them when they were in the womb.

The latest parenting sensation is Shimi Kang, who advises us to follow the way of the dolphin.

The Canadian-Indian Harvard-trained psychiatrist's offering, The Dolphin Way offers a sensible alternative to training tiger cubs.

We all fear a tiger but everyone loves Flipper. That may be why tiger mum Amy Chua provoked such animus. We should instead raise our children like baby dolphins, so Kang says. Parents, release your inner fins!

So why dolphins? Well, we all know IQ and EQ. Dr Kang here offers what she calls CQ: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. These are the core skills, she argues, a child needs to thrive in the 21st century and dolphins, we are told, excel in all of them. Let's not try to be marine biologists here. But as Kang points out, dolphins use tools such as sea sponges over their snouts to forage for food [creativity]. They work around problems such as avoiding fishing traps [critical thinking]. They whistle, squeak and physically gesture to communicate. And they play, hunt and socialise together [collaboration].

Tiger parenting, Kang argues, not only fails to encourage these skills, it stifles them. Why? Because the cubs are over-scheduled, over-structured, over-managed and over-protected. She also claims tiger cubs on average do worse than their well-adjusted, well-rounded peers in the one area their parents claim superiority: academic performance. As evidence, she cites a University of Texas study which tracked more than 300 Chinese-American families over eight years. Those with "harsh parenting" styles on average produced children with educational achievement and attainment lower than families that were "supportive" and "easygoing".

My take is that most parents are tigers, dolphins and pussycats at one time or another. Sometimes you have to be a tiger. Other times you just have to play with Flipper.


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This article is now closed to comments

Dolphin teaching? Not a good analogy in a Hong Kong context: they'll be extinct in a few years.
"Matching"? Do you mean "marching"?
Nice article Alex. You made my Friday:)
In my experience fortunately or unfortunately there is no magic formula to parenting ... each child is unique and will respond differently to tigers, dolphins or pussycats and to their social environment. The important thing to remember is to provide opportunities, guide, love and support them for who they are and not what you want them to be otherwise aren't you imposing on your child the modern day equivalent of arranged marriages. For the lately you will always have cases where love develops eventually but it is now considered important for one to find love themselves.
To see how some “local” failures compete, read the MP report about how a local girl is taken to task for sharing in the internet the experience of how after 11 years as an “ii” she has gained admission to HKU medicine.
"Go back to the mainland"
Doessn't that sound familiar?
Mingpao 17MAR14:
'My take is that most parents are tigers, dolphins and pussycats at one time or another. Sometimes you have to be a tiger. Other times you just have to play with Flipper.'
Almost it is the case.
Kids normally experience both treatments from their parents. That is easily found that one parent is the good guy and the other is the ‘bad’ guy. Kids who get both treatments could behave less dogmatic and more oriented to circumstance. I think this is important especially for latter part of their life.
I prefer the American way. Parents let kids to bear their own responsibility with an agreed contract like cleaning up one’s own room. Parents augment it with punishment (grounded from playing outside the house) when the contract is not honored. Yes it gets the kid to grow up real fast with a sense of responsibility towards one’s own decision. And yes, that life must choose.
I appreciate the idea of CQ since it is also a unique human feature that IQ and EQ don’t cover. All these measures of course don’t guarantee ‘successes’ which these innate qualities still depend on external circumstances for one to excel in the outside world.
Who may criticize middle-of-the-road
as the generally correct approach
One has to personally adjust
more or less of which for different situations
AL mentions PhDs
If you know enough of them,
regardless where they got their degrees
many are neither photogenic nor intelligent
In reply to AL’s comment on homework load
(AL 2:52pm comment on AL Apr 8 column)
we had the same situation when children were at primary schools
We hired F6 Ying Wah girls who did an excellent job
in saving the homework time of children and parents
In high school, none of my children had much homework
The only exception was a daughter’s art class
for which in a few occasions we as parents had to help her
cutting paper and filling colors till after midnight
Parents of her classmates had to do the same
In high school, their schedules were FULLY filled by co-curricular activities
A daughter asked me to take her to a playground at 4am
to meet with schoolmates to practice matching
I said earliest 5am when she would be the first to arrive there
At 5am, she was the last
Two other schools’ teams were also matching there
Not many students were driven there by parents
Did my daughter compete unfairly with those more independent students?
Independence helps these other student to be even more competitive
HK schools are very competitive
Those who couldn’t even handle academic work
are already out of the picture
People are different,
thus complaints and grievances
thank you for the correction
marching it should be
To psl...
A fond memory from reading your comment.
My mother was also the one who helped me at home to build a horse head with cardboard large enough to cover a kid’s head for a school Christmas show. I was in Primary one and I volunteered and perhaps my mother was forced.
She was proud and pleased




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