Catch Phrase | 起跑线焦虑( qǐpǎoxiàn jiāolǜ)

Writer: Debra Li  | Editor: Stephanie Yang  | From:  | Updated: 2019-10-21


“起跑线” means “starting line,” and “焦虑” means “anxiety.” Most Chinese parents are familiar with this saying: Don’t let your children lose at the starting line. This idea arises from the fierce competition in the populous Chinese society where people work very hard to get into a prestigious university and find a high-paying job. Children’s growing up is compared to a race where millions of the same age compete for limited seats in quality preschools, primary schools and middle schools. Driven by this anxiety, parents spend a lot of money on tutoring and extra-curricular music or art classes, hoping to give their children a good start in life.


A: 周末我们一起带娃去爬山吧。

Zhōumò wǒmen yīqǐ dài wá qù páshān ba。

Let’s take our kids hiking this weekend.

B: 没空啊,从早到晚的补习班。

Méikòng a,cóngzǎo-dàowǎn de bǔxíbān。

We have no time. My kid has to attend tutoring sessions all day long.

A: 你这是起跑线焦虑。孩子才上小学,没必要这么拼。

Nǐ zhè shì qǐpǎoxiàn jiāolǜ 。Háizi cái shàng xiǎoxué,méi bìyào zhème pīn。

You are driven by “tiger parenting anxiety.” You kid is only in primary school and there is no need to push him so hard.