Asian Parents and Success: Authors Answer Your Questions
Our article, How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class?, prompted an enormous number of comments and questions from you. We asked the authors, Jane Kim and Dr. Soo Kim Abboud, to answer some of the questions.
By Dr. Soo Kim Abboud , Jane Kim
Kim Abboud and Jane Kim traced their own success to Asian-American parents who believe children's primary role is to respect their elders, obey their parents and study hard to secure a bright future. They contrast these parenting practices with those of many American parents who manage their children's after-school hours less closely and reward effort - even if the result is mediocre - out of fear of damaging their children's self-esteem.
It's a view that many of you championed and many others challenged. In case you missed their article you can read it here. You can also read the many comments from readers and add your own.
We asked Abboud and Kim to answer a few of your most frequently asked questions:
My son is 12. In the name of "self esteem" I made choices in his education that have destroyed his will. He has no will to get better at anything. If he tries something and if he cannot do it the first or second time, he gives up. I know it has something to do with my willingness to praise him for almost any kind of endeavor (from excellent to good to mediocre). What can I do now? Do you have any suggestions?
For those parents who have been focusing on self-esteem and want to begin emphasizing results, the transition isn't as difficult as it may seem. Parents can apply a two-tiered praise system, in which effort is rewarded first. When effort is demonstrated and achievement is not, parents should actively work with their child to improve performance.
We believe this is most effective when the child's effort is praised first and foremost, and is then followed by ways he or she can improve performance. For example, your son is struggling in algebra but is trying hard to improve his grade. He receives a "C" on his test. First, recognize and praise him for any improvement he has made. You can then talk about the errors he made and discuss methods of how he can improve on the next exam. Methods will vary from one child to another; one child may need help with homework, while another might benefit from a meeting with the teacher.
Be prepared to communicate openly with your child to determine what will work best. You just might be surprised at how much more he or she will want to achieve the next time around. Keep in mind that the highest praise should be awarded to children who are able to apply themselves and excel.
How do athletics fit into all of this? Athletic programs require a great deal of time after school.
Sports and other extracurricular activities should be encouraged, although we recommend limiting these activities to two or three (at a time) per child so the main emphasis will remain on academics.
We believe that extracurricular activities promote leadership and enhance social skills - both important skills your child should acquire in order to be successful in today's competitive environment. Team sports, in particular, will teach your child valuable life lessons.
Through teamwork, children learn that the likelihood of success is greater when individuals work together toward a common goal.
Furthermore, relationships are nurtured and social skills are developed as children learn how to best interact with other members of the team. Finally, don't forget the enjoyment and health benefits your child will receive from participating in sports!