Of the many different styles of parenting that exist out there — like helicopter parenting, for instance — there is something called ‘chicken parenting’, which is popular in China.
The outlet mentions that in the last few years, the term ‘chicken baby’ has become quite popular in the country, especially in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, where there are many “obsessive middle-class Chinese parents”.
According to the report, the word ‘chicken’ is used because of the colloquial expression “dǎjīxuè”, which translates to “inject chicken blood”. In the country, ‘chicken blood treatment’ was quite a fad during the Cultural Revolution. People would wait in line, bring their roosters, to receive fresh chicken blood, which they considered to be the ‘cure-all’ for many health problems, like baldness, infertility, cancer, etc.
But, with years, while the trend subsided, the phrase remained. Today, it is referred to as ‘agitation’ and ‘hyperactivity’, usually for parents who obsessively want their children to ‘succeed’. News reports suggest that as a result of this, while some hire exclusive tutors and best sports coaches, others go to the extent of buying houses next to the best public schools in the city.
The SupChina.com report mentions that for people who practise this form of parenting, just one school is not enough, good grades are not enough, since everyone else is also performing equally well. There is now an overload of expectations from kids. There has been a recent education reform in China, for which “a student’s physique, cultural and artistic skills, as well as international experiences” are also taken into consideration for school admissions.
It has been reported that chicken parents send kids to training institutions where they can learn English, Math, Chinese, or other subjects. And like their counterparts in the US, ‘chicken babies’ in China also take up sports, music, culture, and other such activities, and volunteer in the community; these count as bonus points during school entrance exams.
A chicken parent even shared the gruelling schedule with SupChina.com, for a fifth grader:
8.30-9.50 am: Reading
9.50-10.30: Gaming (socialising with peers)
10.30: Eye exercise
11.00: Lunch while listening to audiobooks
1.00-4.00 pm: Math Olympiad practice
4.00-5.30: Biking outdoors
5.50-8.30: English lessons online
8.30-9.00: Snack break
The report also states that China’s childhood myopia rate is among the highest in the world. Its National Health Commission found 71 per cent of middle schoolers and 81 per cent of high schoolers are nearsighted. It has caused a new hype over ‘orthokeratology lenses’ — ‘OK lenses’ — which are “designed to be worn overnight, temporarily improving vision during the day”.
Depression among Chinese teenagers is also on the rise. The 2019-20 National Mental Health Development Report found 25 per cent of Chinese adolescents suffered from depression and 7.4 per cent had severe depression, the outlet mentions.
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