We all try to find the best parenting practices so that we can give our children the best values in life. As much as parenting is fun, it’s also tough. Why don’t we pick a leaf or two from the world’s happiest people – the Danes?  Part of their secret is their style of raising children. Here’s how you can raise your kids like a Dane, according to the book ‘The Danish Way of Parenting.’

Play is important

Danes follow a philosophy called “proximal development,” which states that kids need space to learn and grow (with a little help, if necessary). Children are left to pursue their own interests, enabling them to try new things and build their own trust in themselves. While parents are present and available, they’re not in control or in the middle of activities. Just so you know, it’s the Danes that invented Legos, a toy in which the whole point is free and creative play.

Be authentic and realistic in your outlook on life

In the original version of The Little Mermaid, writer Hans Christian Andersen did not let his heroine get the prince; in the Disney movie, not only does Ariel get married to Prince Eric but she also gets to remain human forever. These Danish movies seem a little downbeat and do not offer Hollywood-style happy endings. The Danes share their realistic outlook on life with their children.

They praise their children for the right reasons in the right way. Danish parents praise children for their hard work in learning to conquer a task, rather than praise them for the inherent intelligence that enabled them to do so. This approach teaches kids that they can learn to do anything they set their minds to do.

Reframing negative situations into good perceptions

Danes believe it’s all in how you look at things. So they try to use language with children that doesn’t limit them or their circumstances. The Danes like to take stressful or unpleasant situations and try to reframe their perception of them. For instance, if the weather is miserably cold and stormy, a parent might say that at least he’s glad he isn’t on vacation.

So if your own expressed thoughts are negative – “I’m not a good chef,” etc. You’re simply telling your children that there are preexisting limits to success.

Children learning empathy. Credit/creative child.com

Teach them empathy

There’s no doubt that empathy makes the world a better place. In the Danish school system, there is a mandatory program called Step by Step. Kids are shown pictures of other kids demonstrating different emotions, like fear, anger, and happiness, and they’re asked to put into words what the other person is feeling. Reading such facial expressions helps the children to learn empathy.

Danish parents continue this process by helping their children learn to put themselves into another’s shoes so they can better understand their relationships with their friends and family members.

Avoid ultimatums

Danish parents are firm but also responsive. They set high standards for their children but are also supportive of them. They don’t expect total obedience, but they do expect appropriately mature behavior from their children. Respect goes both ways and adults must be kind and patient even when their children are going through stubborn phases.

Togetherness cannot be disregarded

The Danes have the unusual word hygge (pronounced hooga in their language) literally meaning “to cozy around together.” Families play games together, take a tea break, enjoy nice meals, and generally spend time enjoying each other’s company.

A wise quote on learning through playing. Credit/The Happyologist

How to bring it to your family? Think “we” over “I”; find activities in which everyone can participate. Play physical games. Sing together or play music and celebrate everyday togetherness. Quality time spent with your children, friends and family will make a happier you and a happier nation. #Rewordit

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