That's the way it is!
Mother & Baby India|December 2020
Do you want your baby to stick to a strict schedule? Do you seek to control her every actions as she grows? Then you might want to read this. M&B deconstructs tiger-style parenting...

Swarupa Hegde is all about sticking to the schedule and maintaining a structure. Mum to one-year-old Darshana, she says, “I fed on a strict schedule. It helped to work our days around feeding times and once you know how much milk your little one needs to keep her satisfied, she gets used to the routine. I started with every two hours. Then I started feeding her for every three hours. Once your baby is used to the time period between feedings, her body is like an alarm clock. My little girl used to cry at three hours to be fed.” As a new mum, you are doing everything you can to take care of your baby. But are you the type of parent who likes to be in control with an organised schedule? Have you put her on a strict routine? Do you get strict about her sleep time, feeding time? Do you get angry because she has not started walking or not ready to wean yet? Then you might be displaying the Chinese-origin tiger-style of parenting your baby.

WHO IS A TIGER MUM?

The concept of Tiger Mums came into existence with the publication of the parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua in 2011. Parenting coach and educator Dr Shefali Batra, who is a qualified child psychiatrist and founder of Mindframes, says, “A tiger mum is a very strict mother who makes her children work hard and restricts their free time so that they achieve high grades. A tiger mum follows autocratic parenting styles. This mum tries to be in control and exerts her power on the children. Her control dimension is high and acceptance of what children want is low. In tiger-style parenting, parents set rules to try to keep order because order is extremely important. They usually do this without expression of warmth and affection (they don’t know that affection is essential!) A tiger mum attempts to set very strict standards of conduct and behaviour for her kids and is critical of children not meeting those standards as expected. She tells children what to do, she tries to make them follow what SHE feels is right. ”

Autocratic parents usually do not provide children with choices so children don’t know any other way but to follow blindly. If a child questions a rule or command, the mum might answer, ‘Because I said so’. Such a mum tends to focus on bad behaviour, rather than positive behaviour, and her children are scolded or punished, often harshly, for not following the rules. So, why does a woman become a tiger mum? Dr Batra says that the reason behind it is the constant feeling within parents that children are letting them down and not keeping up to the ideals they have sacrificed a lot for.

Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Seema Hingorrany says, “Such mums are also called over-bearing. Tiger-style parenting pattern can often be seen very early, even among new mums just after the baby is born! In tiger-style parenting, keeping order is extremely important. Hence, a tiger mum will set a very strict routine of breastfeeding, sleeping time, when to wean, etc. She will try to make the baby follow what she feels is right.” She adds, “Some of the mums who come to me ask questions like, ‘why is my baby not smiling?’, ‘my baby won’t look at me, what’s wrong?’, ‘doesn’t she like me?’ There are also a few who feel like they don’t want the baby anymore. Tiger mums are constantly irritated and unhappy with their baby. They complain about the baby not responding to their expectations. Such mums are impatient and cannot wait for the baby’s developmental stages to take place.”

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