Influenced by the long traditional history and education, Chinese people regard their parents as the most important people in their lives. The obedience to parents is one of the most important things in judging a person’s moral character. Once a person disobeys his parents, he/she will face great pressure from home and the outer environment. The situation is better now but it is hard to change for it has existed for such a long time.
Partly because of the Chinese education system and partly because of the hard time the parents may have experienced, many Chinese children are over-spoiled. In the hope of letting them have happy and easy lives, the parents almost do everything for them. Under such protection, they never have a chance to practice necessary living skills themselves. Also, they haven’t a chance to learn true love and responsibility.
For a person who doesn’t know true love and responsibility, it can be quite difficult for them to act appropriately when they meet these situations. It is much easier to inherit their parents’ love and pass on the same love to others. It is also much easier to obey their parents since undertaking responsibility needs much more courage and can suffer much more pain.
A study of single child families in the Beijing area found that these 'little emperors and princesses" were more egocentric, less persistent and less cooperative than children with siblings.
Some studies in the early 1980s showed that Chinese only children were selfish, unsociable, maladjusted, conceited, fragile and cowardly (see Wang, 1984), and that they made demands for immediate gratification of their wishes, displayed disrespect for elders, and had outbursts of temper (see Tao & Chiu, 1985).
In research (Jiao, Ji & Jing, 1986) with 4-to-10 year old children from the urban and rural areas of Beijing, psychologists of the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Psychology discovered that only children obtained low scores in cooperation and peer prestige, and that they were perceived by their peers as highly egoistic. Only children were more likely than were children with siblings to refuse another child's request for assistance, were less modest, less helpful in group activities,tended to do whatever they liked and did not voluntarily share their toys with others.
Wealthy couples in the cities have less pragmatic but equally long-term considerations in choosing to pay the fines for raising more children. They worry that the new generation of over-indulged single children, known as "little emperors", are growing up self-centered and rude, with little respect for their parents or anything else.
"I find that I can't instill any discipline in my daughter," said real-estate entrepreneur Cao Li, who works full-time and lets her parents raise the girl. "She is spoiled, selfish and demanding, but it doesn't help to discipline her only on the weekends. The only remedy would be to have another child and let my daughter learn to share and take care of someone else."
Cao Li cannot afford time to rectify the child-raising practices of two sets of besotted grandparents, but she earns enough to afford another baby. "It costs a lot to bring up two children," she agreed, "but it is still probably less costly than having only one, which turns out to be a disappointment in our old age."
The old cliche is the "little emperor syndrome", the one child policy that the parents will give everything they have - apart from time - onto the child. It's now recognised in China that while the one-child policy has helped keep the population relatively stable, it's produced a generation of children - especially boys - who are pampered and spoiled by parents and grandparents.
One of China’s greatest strengths in combating enemy invaders this century has been its seemingly unlimited population. It was Chairman Mao who advocated Chinese people to get busy having as many children as they could in preparation for WWIII.
Sheer numbers of human beings would supplant pricey and precious weapons and ammunition. By the Chairman’s decree, any woman who gave birth to lots of children was christened a Guangrong Mama (Glorious or Honored Mother). The more children she could have, the more "honorable" she was.
In the 1980s, China’s leaders undertook measures to correct the problem of overpopulation by initiating planned childbirth - China’s controversial One-Child Policy. Now that Chinese families are only allowed to have one child, they treat the child like a little king or queen. Especially if the kid happens to be a boy, in which case he is the last hope the parents have for carrying on the family line.
Hence, one of the consequences of the One-Child Policy (besides an alarming imbalance in the numbers of male and female children) has been the emergence of the xiao huangdi ("Little Emperor") phenomenon.
The term xiao huangdi didn’t come into wide use in China until the 1990s. Today it is commonly used to refer to Chinese kids who enjoy all the privileges that come with being only children. These little tykes have been so pampered and spoiled by their parents that they run the risk of being incapable of doing anything for themselves.
There’s no doubt that Reform & Opening has exacerbated the Little Emperor phenomenon. But Chinese families have more money now than ever before, and are able to make sure that their kids are over-nutrified. Hence the growing numbers of obese Chinese children. Parents take great pains to help their children break through genetic constraints and gain too much weight, making them a living testament to their family’s affluence. It is a fact that far too many parents make their children eat too much.
Chinese parents can’t stand the thought of letting their kids leave their care to go to school every day. How can they be sure that their Little Emperor is going to get enough attention from the teacher in a class of 30 or 40 other brats? That’s why many Chinese parents practice the ancient Chinese custom of flattery and giving gifts to win favor. Families shower their kids’ teachers with excessive flattery and gifts to insure that their child gets the special treatment he or she has come to demand and expect.