Nunchi: Try this Korean parenting style to raise smart, happy and successful kids | #parenting

If you are a fan of Korean dramas, you might have noticed how many of the main characters are super smart – whether at their job, academics or at a social level. Many of them are also empathetic in nature. Now this may sound fictional and too-good-to-be-true, but it could also be a reflection of how parents raise their children in Korea.

A key traditional parenting secret of Korea is nunchi, which Korean-American journalist and author Euny Hong has revealed in her recent book ‘The Power of Nunchi: The Korean Secret to Happiness and Success’.

Hong describes nunchi as the “art of understanding what people are thinking and feeling.” So, is it like mind reading? Well, nunchi is no superpower but honing this skill in your child can make them sharper, smarter and kinder.

What exactly is nunchi?
Nunchi is the skill of being able to sense what people are thinking and feeling, and then responding appropriately. It’s like listening to your gut in a way, but perhaps not just random instinct, but an understanding of people and circumstances.

Nunchi roughly translates to “eye-measure,” so it’s about your ability to read a room quickly. What’s special is that it focuses on understanding the collective, and not just specific individuals.

Hong explains that in traditional Korean parenting, teaching nunchi is as important and basic as “Look both ways before crossing the street” and “Don’t hit your sister.” Parents start teaching this art to their kids as early as the age of three.

How can it help your kid?
Nunchi teaches your child to be aware of their actions and its consequences. Usually parents forgive kids for mistakes committed “accidentally”. However, the Korean parenting style of nunchi attempts to make the child so aware of analysing situations that they will no longer be ignorant, especially of their own behaviour to others. In a way, nunchi can be understood as emotional intelligence.

Another important point is that it does not make your child too sensitive or submissive. Nunchi allows your child to be more observant of what’s happening around them, and yet not wear their heart on their sleeves. They become smart enough to understand what to say, when to say and how much to say.

Using it for the good

A smart kid can easily be confused with a cunning one. However, Hong shared that Korean parents instill nunchi by first teaching their children this crucial lesson: “It’s not all about you.”

It teaches your child to realise other people’s reality without focusing on their own benefit or loss. You’ll be bringing up a compassionate child who understands that there are things more important and above than their own personal interests.

A child who is unaware of the consequences of their own actions and words on other people is likely to be on the losing end of life, especially in the long run, says Hong. On the other hand, a well-honed and quick nunchi can help your kid grow up to choose the right partner in life, the right kind of social circle, excel at work, and protect themselves against those who mean harm to them.

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