The Dolphin Way

Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into a Tiger

How the Tigers, Dolphins, and Jellyfish Parents Differ

A comparison of parenting styles

Tiger parenting has been given much attention in the media, however in The Dolphin Way: A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into a Tiger, I coined the term dolphin and jellyfish parenting.

The tiger parent is an authoritarian parent. Some tiger parents are authoritarian "directive" meaning pushing and directing their children. Other tiger parents are authoritarian "protective" meaning hovering and micromanaging their children. Either way, tiger parents take over their child's sense of internal control and self-motivation.

The jellyfish parent is a permissive parent. They have little rules, expectations, and often overindulge their children. Children of jellyfish parents tend to lack impulse control.

The dolphin parent is the balance of these two extremes and are authoritative in nature. Like the body of the dolphin, they are firm yet flexible. Dolphin parents have rules and expectations but also value creativity and independence. They are collaborative and use guiding and role modelling to raise their kids.

Here is a chart outlining the differences in these styles.

Shimi Kang, M.D., is an award-winning, Harvard-trained psychiatrist and author of The Dolphin Way.

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