In the past few years there has been quite a lot of press about cross-cultural differences in parenting. In particular "tiger" parent popularized by Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, has received a lot of attention. The whirlwind of information is confusing! As moms, do we need to more strict? how strict is too strict? Should we really force our children to practice that musical instrument, until they cry?!

Our newest study, to be published in Developmental Science, my colleagues and I were interested in looking at how psychological control, a characteristic of 'tiger parenting', influences children's stress response.

We asked mothers about their parenting style and computed a score for "tiger" mom characteristics, such as threats to withdraw love, over control, and shaming. We then put children through a small stressor. This stressor is designed to be similar to a stressful event that all children will experience at some point in their life. Specifically, children play a difficult game that is impossible to beat. We measure a stress hormone called, cortisol, in their saliva at multiple time points, before and after the stressor.

And the results are as you would expected. Higher levels of maternal tiger parenting is associated with higher levels of stress hormone cortisol.

One important caveat to keep in mind is that not all stress is bad. Sometimes we need a little bit of stress to motivate us. So perhaps the conclusion is everything should be done in moderation, even a little tiger parenting!