What we can learn from the Inuit about parenting

Expressing anger may not be the best way to discipline your child; read more to find out why.

Cool-headed adults result in cool-headed kids. This has been proven by the Inuit with their fresh approach to parenting: don’t shout or yell at small children.

The Inuit instead use storytelling and role play to encourage children to learn themselves. “Shouting, ‘Think about what you just did. Go to your room!’ I disagree with that,” said Goota Jaw, who teaches parenting at Nunavut Arctic College in Canada. “That’s not how we teach our children.”

There is a lot of anger in people, nowadays. From daily rage over petty things on social media to increasing cases of anxiety and depression, our daily intake of news is filled up with rows, rants and public take-downs. Anger and aggression, is seen as the quicker route to obtain something rather than level-headedness and diplomacy. Society can benefit from the Inuit approach of raising calm and well-balanced children, reported the DailyMail.

“We do know anger is much more prevalent in some cultures than others,” said Batja Gomes De Mesquita, a professor of cultural psychology at the University of Leuven in Belgium. “The western belief is that we have these authentic emotions that should have room to be expressed and that beyond the odd situation you really you shouldn’t have to suppress it.”

A research was conducted by the University of Leuven, wherein they invited two culturally different parent-child sets for an experiment. Belgian and Japanese mothers were asked to discuss a conflict with their child. Later, the subjects were asked to review their emotions.

The results showed that Japanese teens had less feelings of anger than Belgian teens. “What seemed to happen,” says Mesquita, “which surprised us, is you could say that Belgian mothers maintain and cultivate the anger of their children by being angry themselves, by engaging in the conflict, whereas Japanese mothers do not – they were more concerned with their children, focusing on trying to empathise and understand. Eventually, on the whole you might find less expressions of anger in Japan.”

There are tremendous cultural differences when it comes to parenting styles all around the world. American teens lag behind in terms of wellness, happiness and academic achievement. In US, the parents will get the child to comply, will make them face consequences for their actions. But in Japan, parents don’t jump to intervene in situations and let the child resolve conflicts by themselves.

Culture and society play a key role in moulding kids, but neurological factors determine why people, teens especially, are prone to high emotions. By understanding that the teenage brain is going through a developmental period, those responsible for their social well-being should help them develop into well-rounded adults.

“One thing I hate is that teenagers are mocked by the media, described as like chickens with heads cut off, aliens,” said Frances Jensen, a professor of the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s biology playing itself out in front of you. Many parents completely, due to lack of knowledge, alienate their children. It’s important to create an environment where you can communicate and check in.”

What is important to note is that none of what one sees as normal behaviour is universal. Parents tend to encourage anger because they worry about the consequences of bottling up emotions. It is believed that repressed anger is dangerous and unhealthy, so that is why the anger is taken out and gotten over with it at that moment.

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