The Happiest Kids In The World

Whether you have kids, are expecting kids, or have kids in your distant future, we think it’s fair to say that we can all get behind one key goal in the lives of our little ones: We just want them to be happy. Kind, loyal, successful, adventurous and all things wonderful in life, of course. But, above all, happiness is what we all ultimately want for our children.

Happy Kids Walking-1

Which is why, when we read an article about how Denmark is the home to the “happiest people on earth” we were intrigued. What is it about Danish parenting that cultivates happiness in their population? How did they, as a collective society, reach such an impressive country-wide title for self-fulfillment? Mother Mag took it upon themselves to finding out their secrets through chatting with Jessica Alexander, co-author of The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World, who divulges in a new way of parenting that we should all take note of, whether or not we have kids. 

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the fascinating sit down. 

  • “Danish parents actively teach their children empathy and to value others. They base their success on real teamwork rather than only striving to be the star.”
  • “Danes don’t over program their kids’ lives. Play is considered one of the most important things a kid can do (and learn from), even into high school. There is a big focus on the zone of proximal development, which means they respect children where they are at in their learning process and try to help them just enough so they don’t lose the joy in learning for themselves.”
  • “Danes actively teach empathy in school, starting in pre-school. It is as important as teaching Math or English. They ‘keep it real.’ Everything doesn’t have to have a happy ending.”
  • “Spanking became illegal in 1984 in Denmark. Danes use a diplomatic, avoiding ultimatums approach. As a result, they are a very non-violent culture.”
  • As Americans, “It is incredibly difficult to see how our culture shapes our values, our way of being, and even our way of raising kids (a.k.a. parental ethnotheories). These behaviors are so engrained in us we rarely question whether there is another way that might be better.”

Our takeaway? By focusing on empathy, teaching values without hindering the innocent playful nature that every kid possesses, and recognizing that how we were raised as a culture may have room for improvement, happiness can be cultivated in children. While there’s no parenting style that is the “right” one, we think the Danes are onto something. 

If you’re interested in learning more and reading the in-depth interview, read the full article by Mother Mag here


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