12/11/2014 12:28 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ultimate Pushy Dad Takes Six-Year-Old Son On 1,800-Mile Hike Across 50C Desert


As pushy parents go, dad He Liesheng is in a league of his own.

When his son Yide was just four years old, he made him jog in the snow – in his underpants – as a character-building exercise.

Then at the age of five, he taught him to fly a plane. Yes, at the age of FIVE!.

But the dad's latest mission for his now six-year-old has taken pushiness to another level: an 1,800-mile hike across the desert in China to teach his young lad survival skills.

No wonder Liesheng has been nicknamed (by himself) 'Eagle Father'. He puts the infamously competitive Tiger Mums to shame!

His boy Yide spent 11 days travelling across the deadly Lop desert, where temperatures regularly drop below freezing and can reach 50C, with his father and two other young boys.

The experience included strength training, lessons in how to find water and how to catch food, and how to navigate by reading the stars at night.

And one night, the boys were made them sleep in pits the competitive dad dug in the ground.

They travelled most of the way by car because the salt flats are covered in crystals which can cut people as they walk, but Yide was still made to complete a 62-mile trek on foot.

Liesheng and his son were accompanied on their travels by 11-year-old Yin Kejie and Lai Wenliag, 13, who were both recruited online.

The group crossed the Lop desert in five cars equipped with GPS equipment and medical supplies, but were otherwise left to fend for themselves.

They had to telephone for help once along the way after leaving the cars with no extra clothing, food or water, when the temperature suddenly dropped below freezing, leaving them stranded.

Many professional explorers have died attempting to cross the desert!

So why is Liesheng, a businessman based in Nanjing, capital of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, such a pushy dad? What drives him to drive his little boy so hard?

It apparently stems from his fear that his boy might suffer in later life after he was born prematurely.

Doctors warned that he might suffer physical defects so Liesheng became determined to toughen him up.

After Yide spent two months in hospital, Liesheng devised a tough training programme for him, including swimming lessons which began just 10 days after Yide came out of his incubator.

Dubbing himself the 'Eagle Father', Liesheng said: "When the baby eagle is old enough, the mother eagle would harshly push its baby down the cliff.

"When the baby eagle is plummeting, a survival instinct would make it flap its wings vigorously. Through this, the baby eagle acquires its basic survival skill - flying.

"I don't agree with the education of most of the parents. They are too protective and caring, which makes their kid lazy and with no pioneering spirit."

Other challenges for Yide included eight hours of lessons a day from the age of six months, mountain climbing from two years old, and five miles of jogging every day.

Yide was also registered for classes including kung fu and kickboxing, while he took up skateboarding and bike riding of his own accord.

He attends the Experimental Primary School of Nanjing University of Science and Technology and his father says he always asks to take his son out of school before completing the challenges.

Liesheng said: "Yide is now in very good health. Besides the two months in hospital when he was born, he never visited a hospital again."

The father and son hit the headlines in 2012 after Yide was pictured running through the snow in New York in just his underwear, and doing press ups outside.

And last year Yide became the youngest person to fly solo in a plane, completing a 35-minute trip over Beijing.

Story continues after video...

The name 'Eagle Father' is taken from Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, in which she argued that Chinese mothers were superior to American mothers because they pushed their children harder.

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