In 2011, parents everywhere were up in arms over the release of Amy Chua’s controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which depicted the author’s strict, controlling and some say borderline-abusive parenting methods.But could it be that “Western” parents are more of a “tiger” than they think? According to the Center for Disease Control, 1.3 million American kids have been diagnosed with depression, 1.8 million are suffering from an anxiety disorder, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for those ages 10 – 24. At a time when kids are supposed to simply enjoy childhood, many fall victim to excessive stress, pressure and poor health. Perhaps it is time for a new style to model: The Dolphin Way.
Harvard-trained child and adult psychiatrist and mother of three Dr. Shimi Kang knows “tiger parenting” is detrimental to kids and is on a mission to combat the “tiger mom” mentality. Her new book, The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids – Without Turning a Tiger (Penguin, May 1, 2014) offers a fresh perspective on parenting best practices.
In The Dolphin Way, Dr. Kang draws from the latest neuroscience and behavioral research that demonstrates why pushy “tiger parents” and permissive “jellyfish parents” actually hinder a child’s self-motivation. She focuses on helping parents adopt a “dolphin” parenting style, which emphasizes maintaining a balance in their children’s lives to gently yet authoritatively guide them toward overall health, well-being and self-motivation.
As a youth psychiatrist, Dr. Kang has seen the consequences of too much parental pressure: anxiety disorders, high stress levels, suicide and addiction. Dr. Kang argues that often the simplest “benefits” parents give their children are the most valuable. By trusting their deepest intuitions about what is best for their kids, parents will in turn allow their children to develop key “dolphin traits” – strong social skills, community-mindedness, and the ability to adapt – to enable them to thrive in an increasingly connected and complex world. The Dolphin Way helps parents cultivate what Dr. Kang calls “CQ”, which stands for the four identified skills essential for success in the 21st century: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. As someone who was never in a scheduled activity, Dr Kang understands that more than a jam-packed schedule and extreme amounts of pressure; kids need loving, nurturing and engaged parents to gently yet intentionally steer them towards personal success.
Dr. Shimi Kang is the medical director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver community, a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia and the founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital. She is an author and a writer whose articles appear in major media outlets including the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and TIME Ideas. Dr. Kang has helped hundreds of children, adolescents, and parents move toward positive behaviors and better health. In 2012, Dr. Kang received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service. Dr. Kang lives in Vancouver with her husband and their three wonderful children.