The internet is filled with parenting tips. Why? Because we want to give our children the building blocks for success in life: discipline, education, resilience. We want to help them develop a global mindset, learn empathy, and make the world a better place.
That’s the gist of conscious parenting. In essence, having a set of beliefs about what children need to develop and thrive and not letting our own fears and pre-conditionings get in the way. Of course, at the end of the day, isn’t raising happy kids our ultimate goal?
So, why not go straight to the source? Why not learn from the “best” how to cultivate happiness from the cradle up? According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Denmark is home to the “happiest people on earth.” What do Danish parents do to prepare their kids for a happy future? Read on for three parenting tips from the Danish.
1. Let Kids Be Kids
Danish parents excel at letting kids be kids. Instead of structured or parent-led play, Danish kids explore the world freely, often with children of various ages. The benefit? Leading their own play helps kids build self-esteem and learn from one another. Unstructured play also lets kids develop their imaginations through simple toys, art, and the exploration of nature.
So, take your little ones to the park or playground. Step back and let them play with other kids. And when little disagreements and problems arise? Let the kids deal with these problems directly. After all, part of play is learning how to negotiate and resolve conflict without the intervention of adults.
2. Authenticity is the Best Policy
Danish parents share what they really think with their children. They don’t sugarcoat life, and they don’t overpraise their kids. Honesty extends to how the Danish discuss feelings, too. Even the hard ones—fear, anger, aggression. Learning how to discuss these feelings with their parents better equip Danish children for life’s challenges.
It requires that parents first take a look at themselves. As Cathy and Todd Adams of one of my favorite podcasts, Zen Parenting Radio always say: “the best predictor of a child’s well-being is a parent’s self-understanding.” And the best way to help kids handle difficult emotions is by modeling healthy coping behaviors to them. If you can learn to be real about your own emotions and opinions, then you’ll teach your children, through example, how to express themselves in authentic ways.
3. Make Time for “Hygge”
What’s hygge? In Danish, it literally translates as, “to cozy around together.” It’s a time of togetherness shared with family and friends. And it’s part of daily life. Hygge can be as simple as eating a nice meal, having cake and tea, singing, playing board games, or cuddling up together to look at family photo albums or a picture book.
Yes, that means, no TV, no cell phones, and no laptops. Complaints, arguments, and drama also get left behind. Hygge involves being grateful, pleasant, and delighting in each other’s company. Sure this isn’t always the easiest thing to do after a long day at work. But hygge helps parents, too. Hygge allows families to unplug, de-stress, and connect in meaningful ways every day.
Parenting Tips from the Danish
Child-led play, authentic communication, and daily hygge are central to these Danish parenting tips. Want to know more about parenting like the Danish? Check out The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl.
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