Little Emperors

As many of you know, China has a one child policy. Some families might have two if they are really wealthy (or because their first child was a girl or a boy who was born with birth defects). But in most cases families only have one child. One child to place all their hopes and expectations into, one child to fulfill not only the parents’ dreams but both sets of grandparents as well.

Having one child has lead parents and grandparents to pamper their child/grandchild to no end. These kids are given anything and everything they want, nothing is denied them. “No” is a word they probably seldom hear and as a result they become spoiled little brats. The have a name for this phenomenon here in China, it’s called Little Emperor Syndrome.

Little Emperor Syndrome is a combination of extreme expectations from parents and grandparents on the child to excel/be the best as well as not denying the child anything it wants. Many kids don’t tie their own shoes, wipe their bottoms, or fix their own hair because their parents do it for them. I have one student who is so physically weak (because he has never lifted a finger in his life) that he has trouble stepping over a stool when I do an obstacle course. China is also seeing a rise in obesity among children because parents give them anything they want, never saying “no, that is too much junk food.”

The other night I went to dinner at one of my adult students apartments. Another one of my students joined us and brought her son. After dinner I wanted to play with the kid a little bit. I found some blocks and started to build a tower. All of a sudden the kid stood up and destroyed my building. I was really pissed, but the mother didn’t say a word. I then started to play with some other toys and after a while the kid came over and destroyed that too, and still the mother remained silent. The kid then started trashing the room by throwing toys all over the place and the mother acted as though it was an acceptable thing to do. China gives its children cart blanche to do what they want.

This is just one example but I have experienced many more instances of Little Emperor Syndrome and my classes are filled with students who feel that they are entitled to anything they want. These students are usually the hardest to control and to focus.

I wonder what kind of person I would have turned out to be if my parents never said no to me?


About JoelS

Spending a year teaching English and saving the world in China
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