A father in Wuhan, Hubei province, dubbed "Eagle Dad" for his controversial parenting style, has dismissed critics' claims that he pushes his 4-year-old son too hard.
Police officer Wang Shaoyan came under the spotlight this month after his child took part in an 18-kilometer race in the Hubei provincial capital.
Some parents attacked his methods of extreme physical training, while others reacted strongly to his admission that he regularly exposes the youngster to cold showers. "I just want my son to reach his full potential," Wang said, adding that 4-year-old Wang Dingsen not only finished the 18-km race but also left many adults behind him.
"My son runs 3 km everyday," he said. "He also takes cold showers from time to time to strengthen his body's resistance and willpower."
Wang said he first gave his child a cold shower when he was 15 months old. After years of chilling experiences, he rarely falls ill and has developed much stronger willpower than his peers, according to Wang Shaoyan.
"He has never taken any sick leave from kindergarten," he said, proudly.
However, some parents find his methods too extreme.
"I'm not sure a 4-year-old is prepared for such intense training," said Zhang Ruxia, a woman who gave birth to two boys in October in Tianjin. "You can have good intentions to train your child at an early age but you also have to consider whether he can take it."
Wang responded by saying children are too young to make decisions, and it is up to parents to lead them on the right path.
"I read many materials before (I started training my son), and the whole process is step-by-step, without pushing or imposing on my son," Wang said.
The father said he was not acting rashly but following a scientific way of education. He said the queries and doubts about his methods reflect the declining standards of modern education.
"Many people in Japan give their children cold showers too, and no one is fussing about it," he said.
The traditional way of education applied by most of his peers might not necessarily help bring the best out of a child, he said.
Wang said in addition to the physical training, he has also laid out a detailed and particular program to enhance the intelligence of the child.
"I have hired some university students to expand his knowledge in natural sciences, while playing the video for English-language teaching as well," he said.
According to Mao Zhenming, director of physical education and sports at Beijing Normal University, cold showers and long-distance running, as long as they are not too extreme, are beneficial for a child's development.
However, he warned that the high-intensity workout that requires lots of effort and concentration might be at cross-purposes.
"Parents should take it step by step in a moderate way," he said.