22 October 2016
A proud mother speaks to a reporter after her son gained admission to a prestigious primary school. The boy, however, shows no visible signs of joy, in a video clip that has gone viral. Credit: Apple Daily
A proud mother speaks to a reporter after her son gained admission to a prestigious primary school. The boy, however, shows no visible signs of joy, in a video clip that has gone viral. Credit: Apple Daily

A Tiger Mom & her expressionless kid

The Hong Kong government released on June 6 the central allocation for Primary One class seats in local public schools.

Parents who saw their kids gain admission into top notch schools were understandably very excited, but not all the children seemed to share the same joy.

A video clip that has gone viral in recent days bears out this phenomenon. 

In the online footage, a woman identified as Mrs. Chan could be seen speaking to a reporter after her son was accepted by a well-known school in Kowloon Tong.

Saying she was very happy that her child made it to La Salle Primary School, Chan left no one in doubt that she was one of those women who adopt a strict, tough-love approach towards their children.

In the video, the Tiger Mom is seen with a bright smile, but her son sent a different signal as he wore an expressionless face throughout the interview.

The footage offers a stark reminder of how much pressure children face these days as over-ambitious parents map out educational goals for their kids.

The video starts with the mom asking her son for his reaction on gaining admission to a prestigious primary school.

“Are you happy?” she asks.

“Happy,” the kid answers weakly.

“Louder please,” the mom says.

“VERY HAPPY”, the kid says loudly but still bearing the same empty look.

It is hard not to notice Chan’s big smile as she was very proud of her son. But the admission didn’t come easy.

In order to get her son into the dream school, Chan revealed that she had arranged 11 extra curricular activities for her five-year old son.

Don’t they seem too much for the kid who is still in kindergarten, she was asked.

“There is nothing very academic. The courses include fencing, Taekwondo, swimming, Dejembe, singing, speech, and also some classes on Chinese, English and Mathematics,” Chan revealed merrily, obviously not agreeing that she had been pushy.

Endless after-school activities for her son cost Chan thousands of dollars a month, but she believes it was well worth it.

On top of that, Chan and her family moved from Yau Tong to Kowloon Tong where La Salle is located to increase the admission chances for her son. They pay a monthly rent of HK$25,000 for the apartment.

While Chan was waxing eloquently about her plans for her son, netizens couldn’t help contrast her visage with that of the boy who was seen bearing dark circles under his eyes.

Questions were raised if the mother had put too much pressure on her child at such an early age, when he should be really care-free and have nothing to worry about.

“Poor kid, unfortunately it is only just the beginning,” one netizen commented.

The criticism of the mom is not without basis as it is a grim fact that many parents in Hong Kong lose their balance in the city’s hypercompetitive child-raising culture.

In order to give their kids a head start, parents scramble to find the best playgroup for their toddlers, then elite kindergartens, reputable primary and secondary schools, with the ultimate purpose of maximizing their kids’ chance of getting into college and achieving career success.

But that can mean depriving the kids of the usual joys of a care-free childhood.

If the kids do not enjoy their life, all the extra activities may harm, rather their help, their future prospects, experts warn.

[Cantonese only]

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EJ Insight writer

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