Why Danish Way of Parenting Raises the Happiest Kids (and, of course, Parents)?

Denmark has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world for years since 1973. They’re always in the top 3. Interestingly, they also have been said to have the best way of parenting. As childhood is the period where you learn the most and pick up the most personality traits, a happy childhood is one of the keys to a happy life.
But what is Danish parenting exactly? How are they related to happiness? And how do you implement it with your children? Read this article to find out.

What is the Danish Way of Parenting?

Before we understand how Danish parenting can result in happy kids, we must first learn how the Dunes raise their children. The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in The World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl summarized the Danish way of parenting with one acronym: PARENT.

1. Play

Danish people encourage their kids to explore and play on their own (or with their friends). Of course, the parents still supervise, but they don’t limit the kid’s curiosity. Dunes let their children take risks, allowing them to grow. Parents let the kids guide the play, and even when problems occur, they see how the kids handle them first. Only when it’s indispensable will they intervene. Studies have shown that free play helps brain development and stress regulation, helping them grow into more resilient adults.

Not only by their parents, but teachers also encourage kids to play. In Denmark’s education system, kids from ages three to six are only required to learn the alphabet. Aside from that, they do very informal learning through playing and interacting. This has been proven effective for naturally picking up social and academic skills (curiosity, observation, and connecting the dots). They are also encouraged to ask when they don’t know something, building confidence.

2. Authenticity

Adults tend to sugarcoat everything when they talk to children. You might do this because you don’t want your child to feel sad, but if you do it on every little thing, your child may later face the harsh truth of real-life and have their self-confidence plummet. Instead of simply telling them their drawing is unique, tell them precisely what you like about it and where they can still improve. Parents should also praise them for their efforts, shaping the mindset that the process outweighs the result; this will help shape them into confident adults.

3. Reframing

Reframing means seeing things from a different perspective or simply a positive mindset. When you talk to your children or even around them (because kids pick up everything they see and hear), turn all your thoughts into positive sentences. Negativity discourages them and will make them more hesitant to question their curiosity and try new things, creating closed-off and insecure children. For example, instead of telling them, “Don’t do that!” you can say to them, “It would benefit you more if you do this instead of that.”

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Not only do parents need to show empathy towards their children, but they also need to show their kids how to empathize with other people. Without realizing it, acts like fighting with your spouse can set an example of not listening and empathizing with others. Be more mindful of how you treat other people.

5. No ultimatums

Giving your kids ultimatums creates a power play, where there must be a winner or a loser. Remember that as a parent, you need to guide them, not control and discipline them. If you continuously give them ultimatums to get what you want, your children will lose trust and a sense of closeness with you. Instead, try to engage with them. Talk it out, ask about how they feel and why they don’t want to do something.

6. Togetherness & Hygge

The word “hygge” means the quality of coziness and a feeling of contentment. As a parent, it is crucial that your children feel a sense of togetherness and hygge toward you. This way, they will turn to you whenever they have problems, instead of locking themselves in or seeking outside and creating further problems.

Why Danish Parenting Raises Happy Kids

When we connect between the characteristics of Danish parenting and the factors of a happiness index, we will be able to secure some points.
Togetherness in parenting creates Social Support.
The most direct correlation we can make is between the “T” (Togetherness) in Danish parenting and the second factor (social support) of the happiness index. Children who are brought up in a loving family and feel a sense of “togetherness” with their parents will have solid social support in their family when they’ve grown up. Kids who are emotionally connected to their parents also tend to be more able to make emotional connections with other people, hence widening their social support.

Happy child and parents

Empathy in parenting creates Generous adults.

Still, on the social side of things, we can also make a connection between the “E” (Empathy) in Danish parenting and the fifth factor (generosity) of the happiness index. Children who have seen acts of empathy grow into empathetic adults. Generosity has a lot to do with empathy, and as the happiness index shows, people who donate show a higher happiness rate.

Play and No ultimatums in parenting create adults who are Free to Make Life Choices.

“P” (Play) and “N” (No ultimatums) can be correlated to the “freedom to make life choices” factor of the happiness index. Of course, there are other reasons people can’t make their own life choices, including war and poverty, but parental advice is the most common reason people are on life paths they didn’t choose themselves.

Authoritarian parents tend to force their will on their children, saying, “We know what’s best for you,” limiting their children’s freedom in making life choices. On the other hand, the Danish way of parenting actively encourages children not to be afraid to make choices and don’t fault them for their mistakes.

The effect of Danish Parenting on Professionalism, Career, and Income

One of the most significant problems that adults (especially young adults) face when improving their careers is insecurity or lack of confidence. They’re afraid they’re not good enough, they’re so scared of taking risks, they’re afraid to communicate, they’re afraid of public speaking, they’re fearful of making mistakes; the list goes on.

The first factor of the happiness index talks about income, and income is the byproduct of how well people are doing in their job. While many things contribute to how well a person’s career is going, confidence (indirectly taught in Danish parenting) is the number one key to success. The way Danish schools implement natural academic and social skills—instead of forcing them onto them in the form of test questions—from a young age are also significant factors in creating intelligent kids who will grow into competent professionals, no matter what field they’ve dedicated themselves into.

In turn, a stable career and higher income can also be correlated with the third factor of the happiness index, healthy life expectancy. People who are more financially stable have a better chance of purchasing more nutritious foods and affording the best healthcare.

Overall, the Danish philosophy in parenting results in resilient, emotionally secure, happy kids who turn into resilient, emotionally secure, happy adults. These are important factors for a happy and mentally stable adult. If you want your child to grow into a happy and mentally healthy adult, try implementing the Danish way of parenting.

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