Parenting help

Updated: 2013-12-10 07:36

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily USA)

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The popular child-rearing reality program, Super Nanny, is coming to China. Liu Zhihua catches up with the people involved to find out more about some unique Chinese characteristics in parenting.

Children are angels to parents, but sometimes, they can be little demons that drive grownups around the bend. In the TV reality show Super Nanny originally from the United Kingdom and aired in more than 40 countries, Jo Frost travels across the country to help desperate parents who are struggling with their children's behavior.

CCTV-2 will air the Chinese version of the show from Dec 13, and the producers believe it will be a hit.

 Parenting help

The first episode of Chinese Super Nanny features a family in Shanghai with working parents and two young daughters. Photos provided to China Daily

 Parenting help

Lan Hai (center), Yang Yuancao (third from right) and Zhong Peijing (second from right) gather for the promotion of Chinese Super Nanny. The first episode of the program will be aired on China Central Television on Dec 13.

"We've had so many programs on blind dates and singing talent shows, now it is time to provide viewers with serious scientific help on child-rearing," says Yang Yuancao, CEO of IPCN, the company that has brought Super Nanny to China. They have also brought other popular programs such as Voice of China.

"The show has no stars, but it is all real and is rooted in Chinese society to meet the needs of Chinese parents who have problems with childrearing," Yang says.

The first episode features a family in Shanghai comprising working parents, daughters aged 5 and 1, and their retired grandparents.

The adults are at a lost because the older daughter is ill-tempered, has bad eating habits, refuses to go to bed until late at night, and bullies her little sister.

After one or two days of observation, Lan Hai, the "super nanny" on the show, points out envy, insecurity, craving of love and most importantly, lack of family rules, as the underlying causes of the girl's misbehavior. Lan then teaches the parents to use specially designed tools to control the child, which proved to be effective.

"Children are very sensitive, and they will respond according to the situation they are in. In this case, the older girl's bad temper and behavior was in response to the different ways her parents and grandparents treated her and her sister," Lan says.

"Parents invite me to their home to solve their children's problems, and it always turns out that the root of the problems are not the children, but themselves."

Zhong Peijing, an early childhood education specialist with Gymboree, the largest early childhood learning programs provider in China and partner of the TV program, agrees.

Parenting help

"The cases in Super Nanny are all different, but they are very typical of what's happening in Chinese families," Zhong says.

"Children are born innocent, and family interaction molds them. If children grow up having bad behavior or anything else, the causes must be the parents and other family members."

During her career, Zhong has encountered many different cases of child-rearing problems.

She found children who are left with their grandparents have the most problems.

Because of economic pressure or pursuit of career development, most parents work full-time, and grandparents, with or without babysitters, are the prime caretakers of young children.

Some parents even leave their children completely in the care of their grandparents, and only visit them when they have time.

"In families where grandparents dominate the rearing and education of a child, the connection between children and parents will not be well formed, and the love, understanding and bonds between parents and children are not as strong as between grandparents and children," Zhong says.

"There are great disadvantages in such a family mode."

For one thing, elderly grandparents are usually retirees who have seen their options and values shrink in society and want to gain recognition and fulfillment from family life. Under such circumstances, Zhong explains, it is easy for them to pay too much attention to the grandchildren, even spoil them so that they feel needed.

When the children grow into teenagers, they need guidance from parents to experience adolescent rebellion safely.

But instead of having their parents, they have their grandparents as their "emotional" parents, and these grandparents are too old to have enough energy to help them. Their own parents, on the other hand, lack strong emotional bonds with the children, Zhong adds.

Lan Hai, the "super nanny" on the Chinese show, says the most important message she wants to convey to Chinese parents is that they should help children grow into what children want to be, rather than make them fit into the parents' expectations.

"We cannot choose our parents, but we have a choice to decide what kind of parents we want to be. Reflect on ourselves and pay attention to our children's feelings, that is most important," Lan says.

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(China Daily USA 12/10/2013 page9)