Last week, I wrote about what I liked in Amy Chua’s parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. This week, let’s look at the parenting techniques that, as a brain trainer, I recommend you avoid.
It was difficult to feel empathy for this mother as she didn’t have much softness. She did not mince words stating her opinions regarding her daughters to them or about them in front of others. Sometimes she described their weaknesses in blunt and insulting ways that made me cringe. With such high-achieving children, I believe more reasoning and buy-in with them – not to mention respect towards them – would lead to more spectacular results.
I felt a great deal of sadness that Chua did not care about her two daughters’ social connections and growth. She wouldn’t let her children go on play dates. I believe parents ought to make sure their children have opportunities to play with others, whether it’s structured play dates or hanging out with kids down the street.
Social development is essential for children to learn empathy and adaptation. It allows them to discover other perspectives and cultures. Through play they develop negotiation skills and have balance and fun. Sometimes play dates go awry and can be hurtful yet they are memorable learning experiences.
Over the years I have been a speech and language pathologist I have become more and more concerned about the limited amount of true play children are involved in. Play between children has become more parallel (side by side play where they are playing computer games) yet there is less and less interaction. Children are also spending more time with adults. But child-to-adult interaction is different than peer-to-peer. Even one-on-one, a child playing with an adult will use different vocabulary, sentence structure, gestures, length of turns and nuances than two children playing together. Missing this later activity is isolating and not positive in a child’s overall development.
Developing social nuances, communication skills, and the ability to be part of a team with one's peers are all vital lessons. Having a good social network and support system are known contributors to a long and healthy life. Further, children and adults who communicate well typically have better overall achievement. Communication is what makes us human and is an important skill in community and international relations. We often develop these life-long patterns during childhood and adolescence.
As a final note... you might wonder what all this has to do with brain training. Brain training is intense. That intensity is what drives the brain to stretch and change. However, the length of time one does brain training is typically not years and years like the routine Chua developed. And the process, at The Brain Trainer at least, is not dreary as in Chua’s world, but a confidence builder.