How do the Danes make their children so happy, optimistic, and confident? Answer in 5 points.
Table of contents
- Cultivating ‘hygge’ in the family
- Experimenting without inhibiting
- Reframing positively
- Developing empathy
- Encourage free play
1. Cultivating ‘hygge’ in the family
You’ve probably heard of the Danish hygge? It can be translated as spending quality time with family and friends. The Danes have elevated hygge to an art of living. These moments of conviviality reinforce the feeling of belonging.
Do it at home. Share an activity as a family. For example, create a large mural together. Hygge can also mean singing a song in several voices. Why not create a family songbook?
2. Experimenting without inhibiting
In Denmark, parents practice the concept of the “zone of proximal development” with their children. They are supportive, but they offer the child a space to experiment. By exploring, climbing… the child feels in control of his challenges and difficulties. He also learns to manage the level of danger and stress that his brain can handle.
Do it at home. Let him climb, try without intervening! Yes, it forces you to turn your tongue seven times in your mouth when you see your child doing the hanging pig!
3. Reframing positively
Far from being happy idiots, Danes practice “positive reframing.” For example, if it’s raining on holiday, a Dane will exclaim, “Great, I’m going to curl up on the couch with my kids,” instead of cursing the sky. In this way, when faced with a situation where the child is blocked, Danish parents help him or her redirect his or her attention to transform the situation to live it better.
Do it at home. Our child tells us that he is “bad at football”? Acknowledge that he didn’t play well this time while asking him to remember the times he scored goals.
4. Developing empathy
In Denmark, empathy classes are compulsory in school. At school, children learn to express their feelings authentically. They say if they are disappointed, worried. Empathy improves the feeling of belonging.
Do it at home. If your child wants to make fun of a peer, encourage him to talk about himself: “How did you feel when he said that? Maybe he feels bad too?”
5. Encourage free play
In Danish kindergarten (before the age of 7), all time is devoted to playing. The children have fun chasing each other, fighting falsely, playing the aggressor and the aggressed. By playing these games, they develop self-control and learn to deal with conflict. Through free play, children learn to better regulate their emotions.
Do it at home. Let your child play freely. Alone or with others, but without parental intervention. If the game gets out of hand, ask them, “Are you still playing, or are you fighting for real?”
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to work on your child’s self-esteem. And, while it may require a little additional work on occasion, you will be helping your children develop healthy self-esteem and achieve success now and in the future.