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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

The Danish Way of Parenting

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

The Danish Way of Parenting: Raising Happy, Confident, and Resilient Kids

Danish people have earned a remarkable distinction as the happiest individuals on the planet, as firmly attested by the renowned World Happiness Report. In their illuminating book, "The Danish Way of Parenting" by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl, the secrets behind Danish happiness are unveiled: it all comes down to how they raise their children.

The Danish approach to parenting encapsulates a harmonious blend of trust, respect, and independence. Danish parents are known for fostering an environment of unwavering support, where children are encouraged to express themselves freely and pursue their passions with autonomy. This nurturing approach allows Danish youth to develop a strong sense of self-worth, boosting their confidence and instilling a deep-rooted belief in their own abilities.

Furthermore, the authors delve into the Danish emphasis on social connections and community. They unveil the intrinsic value placed upon fostering relationships, both within families and in wider social circles. Danish parents actively cultivate a sense of belonging and interconnectedness among their children, teaching them the significance of empathy, cooperation, and inclusivity from an early age. This nurturing environment not only enhances their emotional well-being but also fosters a profound sense of belonging and social support, creating a solid foundation for a happier life.

By dissecting the Danish way of parenting, the authors reveal a profound truth: the happiness of the Danish people stems from a harmonious interplay of nurturing, trust, independence, community, and balance. This holistic approach takes into account the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. As readers delve into the captivating narrative, they are inspired to reflect on their own parenting practices and discover valuable lessons that can be universally applied. Through this exploration, the book serves as a guiding light, illuminating the path to a happier, more fulfilling existence. It invites readers from all walks of life to embrace the wisdom of Danish parenting and embark on a transformative journey toward greater happiness and well-being.

Incorporating some of the concepts embraced by the Danes can be considered one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children. Instilling a more positive way of looking at life is priceless. After all, what more do we want for our children than to see them genuinely happy?

In this blog post, we will further explore the key principles of the Danish way of parenting using the PARENT method and examine how they contribute to raising happy, confident, and resilient kids. Each principle represents an essential element that, when integrated into our parenting approach, can have a profound impact on our children's well-being and overall happiness.

P - Play & Presence

In the Danish parenting philosophy, play and presence play a central role in nurturing children's development and well-being. Danish parents understand the importance of allowing children ample time for unstructured play, where they can explore, imagine, and create freely. Play is seen as a vital component of a child's growth, fostering creativity, problem-solving skills, and social interactions.

What sets the Danish approach apart is the emphasis on parental presence during playtime. Danish parents actively engage with their children, participating in their imaginative games, building forts, or simply enjoying outdoor activities together. By being fully present in the moment, parents create a strong bond with their children and cultivate a sense of security and connection.

The concept of "hygge," a Danish term that encapsulates coziness and togetherness, permeates playtime. It involves creating a warm and joyful atmosphere during shared activities. Whether it's playing board games, baking together, or going on nature walks, Danish parents prioritise quality time with their children, cherishing these moments of play and togetherness.

By promoting play and being present, Danish parents not only enhance their relationship with their children but also provide them with a solid foundation for emotional and cognitive development. Through play, children learn to navigate social dynamics, express their emotions, and develop important life skills.

A - Authenticity & Autonomy

In the realm of Danish parenting, authenticity and autonomy hold a special place. Danish parents understand the importance of allowing their children to be true to themselves and fostering their sense of independence. By embracing authenticity, parents encourage their children to express their true thoughts, feelings, and interests, without judgment or pressure to conform. This approach promotes a strong sense of self-identity and self-confidence in children, allowing them to explore their passions and follow their own unique paths.

Simultaneously, Danish parents prioritise autonomy by giving their children the freedom to make age-appropriate decisions and take responsibility for their actions. By entrusting children with choices, whether it's selecting their activities or solving problems, parents cultivate a sense of ownership and self-reliance. This emphasis on autonomy enables children to develop critical thinking skills, learn from their mistakes, and build a strong sense of personal responsibility.

The Danish approach to authenticity and autonomy recognises that each child is an individual with their own strengths, interests, and aspirations. By allowing children to be true to themselves and supporting their independence, Danish parents create an environment that fosters self-esteem, resilience, and a genuine love for learning and growth. It's an inspiring reminder that by embracing and celebrating our children's unique qualities, we empower them to navigate the world with confidence and authenticity.

R - Reframe and Resilience

In the Danish parenting style, the principles of reframing and resilience are woven into the fabric of raising children. Danish parents possess a unique ability to reframe challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. They understand that life is filled with ups and downs, and by helping their children develop a resilient mindset, they empower them to navigate life's obstacles with grace and determination.

Danish parents teach their children to view setbacks as valuable learning experiences rather than failures. They encourage them to reframe negative situations into positive ones, focusing on the lessons gained and the personal growth that can arise from adversity. By instilling this resilient mindset from an early age, Danish parents equip their children with the tools to overcome challenges, persevere in the face of adversity, and develop a strong sense of self-belief.

The Danish approach to reframing and resilience also emphasises the importance of problem-solving skills. Instead of swooping in to solve every problem for their children, Danish parents encourage independent thinking and decision-making. They provide support and guidance when needed, but ultimately allow their children to face and solve their own challenges. This approach fosters a sense of self-reliance and cultivates problem-solving skills that serve children well throughout their lives.

E - Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

In the Danish parenting philosophy, empathy and emotional intelligence are highly valued and intentionally cultivated. Danish parents recognise the importance of nurturing their children's ability to understand and connect with the emotions of others. By fostering empathy, children develop strong interpersonal skills, compassion, and a deep sense of understanding and respect for others.

From an early age, Danish parents teach their children to recognise and express their own emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. They encourage open conversations about feelings, providing a safe space for children to express themselves without judgment. This emphasis on emotional intelligence allows children to develop self-awareness, regulate their emotions, and effectively communicate their needs and concerns.

Danish parents also model empathy in their own interactions with their children and others. They prioritise active listening, validating their child's feelings, and offering support and understanding. By demonstrating empathy, Danish parents show their children how to be sensitive and caring individuals, capable of building strong and meaningful relationships.

The Danish approach to empathy and emotional intelligence extends beyond the family unit. Danish children are encouraged to embrace diversity, respect different perspectives, and treat others with kindness and empathy. This focus on empathy in the broader community fosters a culture of understanding and inclusivity.

N - No Ultimatums or Over-parenting

In the Danish parenting philosophy, striking a balance between setting boundaries and allowing children to explore and learn from their experiences is key. Danish parents avoid the use of ultimatums or excessive control, instead opting for a more relaxed and trust-based approach.

By avoiding ultimatums, Danish parents empower their children to make age-appropriate choices and take responsibility for their actions. Rather than imposing rigid rules, they provide guidance and support, allowing children to learn from natural consequences. This approach fosters a sense of autonomy, self-discipline, and personal responsibility in children.

Additionally, Danish parents resist the urge to over-parent or micromanage their children's lives. They understand the importance of allowing children to develop their own problem-solving skills and learn from their mistakes. By giving children the freedom to explore and make decisions within safe boundaries, Danish parents cultivate independence and resilience.

The Danish way encourages parents to trust in their children's capabilities and respect their individuality. Danish parents prioritise open communication and collaboration, ensuring that children feel heard and valued. This fosters a healthy parent-child relationship built on mutual trust and understanding.

T - Togetherness and Trust

In the Danish parenting philosophy, the concepts of togetherness and trust form the foundation of a nurturing and loving family environment. Danish parents understand the importance of creating a strong sense of belonging and connection within the family unit.

Togetherness is highly valued in Danish culture, and parents prioritise spending quality time with their children. Whether it's sharing meals, engaging in activities, or simply having meaningful conversations, Danish parents actively foster a sense of togetherness. This creates a safe space where children feel seen, heard, and supported, strengthening the parent-child bond.

Central to the Danish approach is the cultivation of trust. Danish parents place a great deal of trust in their children, respecting their autonomy and capabilities. They provide age-appropriate responsibilities and opportunities for independence, allowing children to develop a sense of competence and self-reliance. This trust empowers children to take ownership of their actions, make decisions, and contribute meaningfully to the family dynamic.

By prioritising togetherness and trust, Danish parents nurture open lines of communication. They create an environment where children feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing their thoughts, and seeking guidance when needed. This fosters emotional connection and builds a strong foundation for healthy relationships and effective problem-solving.

Dutch parenting, guided by the core principles of PARENT, forms the bedrock of child-rearing in the Netherlands. At its core, this approach places significant emphasis on cultivating resilience, fostering socialisation, nurturing inner strength, and equipping children with a robust internal compass to navigate life's challenges. These fundamental objectives not only define Dutch parenting but also influence the parenting practices of Danish families.

From my perspective, one of the most admirable aspects of Danish parenting lies in their ability to infuse life with a positive perspective. The Danish people possess a remarkable understanding that our attitudes and perspectives play a pivotal role in shaping our experiences. They have truly internalised the concept that happiness is a state of mind. In my opinion, imparting a more positive outlook on life to our children is an invaluable gift. After all, there are few things more rewarding for parents than witnessing the genuine happiness radiating from their children.

By embracing the principles of Dutch parenting and incorporating the Danish wisdom of embracing positivity, we can lay a strong foundation for our children's well-being and growth. Nurturing resilience, promoting social connections, fostering inner strength, and instilling a positive mindset will empower our children to navigate life's ups and downs with confidence and optimism. As parents, we have the extraordinary opportunity to shape our children's perspectives and equip them with the tools they need to flourish.

Let us embrace the lessons from Dutch and Danish parenting, and embark on a journey of raising happy, confident, and resilient children who are ready to embrace life's possibilities.

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