Other countries, other customs – and other children’s education. The Danes are among the happiest nations in the world. The reason for this is also her childhood. What makes Danish parents different than German.
Every year, the United Nations (UN) World Happiness Report shows us that the Scandinavians are doing a lot right: Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are usually at the top of the list when it comes to happiness. And Sweden is regularly among the top 10 of the happiest countries. For comparison: Germany is in 17th place.
By the way, the Better Life Index of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also comes to a similar conclusion. Here Denmark is always in the front rank (since 1973!) And scores above all in the categories life satisfaction, work-life balance, security and public spirit – all categories in which Germany rather poor than quite cuts off.
How do Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors do that? The cold weather or the high taxes, it is probably not. To get to the bottom of this question, let’s take a closer look at the Danish families. Happy children finally become happy adults! So what do Danish parents do differently than Germans?
Jessica J. Alexander ( American journalist, married to a Dane, mother of two ) and Iben D. Sandahl ( Danish psychotherapist and family counselor ) have dedicated a whole book to the subject: ” Why are Danish children happier and more balanced – the educational secrets of the happiest people in the world? World “( Mosaik Verlag, 18 euros ).
In the book, the authors make it clear that the Danes follow six principles ( G – L – U – E – C – K ) in education. That would be:
1. G ood game
Free play makes children balanced and resilient adults, as numerous studies have shown. The reason for this is very simple: Children learn in the game
- to deal with stress
- to try oneself
- to challenge one’s own limits
- and to learn social skills.
For example, as more and more parents in Germany send their children to sports training, violin lessons and more, they rob them of their free time – and enormously reduce the window of opportunity for childlike games. The result of lack of play are fewer connections in the brain, as the neurobiologist Gerald Hüther knows. Only through free play can children discover and develop their talents.
For example, Danish parents do not even intervene in their children’s play so as not to obstruct the flow of the game. In Denmark, children are primarily children and should be allowed to play.
2. L ern orientation
Instead of a “fixed attitude of mind” Danes focus on learning orientation. What does that mean in concrete terms? Danes do not want their children to make successful career people, but teach them to develop their own compass to guide them for a lifetime.
It is about life skills, free the motto: Do not bring the fish to the child, but teach the child how to learn how to fish. This includes honest (!), Process-related praise. Children are not praised for their talents or intelligence, but for a specific job, commitment, perseverance or learning outcomes. As a result, children learn that their effort counts – and as a result, they do not give up so quickly once they fail.
Danish children learn how to build fulfilling relationships and cope with the problems of life – from childhood to adulthood. This is achieved by parents trusting their children by giving them the freedom to solve their own problems before they intervene as adults.
Of course, Danes also have a lot of education and learned knowledge. But more important is teaching their children autonomy, self-esteem and cohesion.
3. U interpret
Reinterpreting things makes both children and adults happy – the authors are convinced of that. The Danes are above all concerned with the right perspective on a situation: not the weather is bad, but the clothes.
Realistic optimism is a big part of the Danish lifestyle – and it’s on the way for the children. Instead of pointing out to children what they can not yet do, their parents focus on what they already know .
So the children learn to always look at the sunny side of life and to see the light at the end of the tunnel when they are stuck in one. They do not just put their heads in the sand, they are solution-oriented.
4. E mpathie
Understanding empathy, living and teaching comes first with the Danes. Danes learn in their early years what it means to show compassion and understanding for their fellow human beings. An “is not my beer” attitude can hardly be found among Danes. But how do Danish parents empower their children?
A loving relationship with parents makes children more open to their advice – and thus their values. Joint activities and discussions deepen the parent-child relationship. Danes are always interested in the thoughts of their children: what were you most looking forward to today? Who did something nice for you today? What did you learn today? These questions are on the daily schedule of our Nordic neighbors.
At least as important is to give the children empathic behavior. It is well known that children learn more through imitation than through timpani or rigid rules. Danish parents are setting a good example for their children, helping others and taking their worries and fears seriously (no matter how old they are).
5. oolbleiben C
Power struggles should be avoided in Danish families. Instead, they rely on democratic educational approaches that promote the trust and happiness of children. But what does democracy mean in education?
Although Danish parents set certain rules as well as other parents do. However, the principle of equality prevails here: The rules apply to all family members. And: If one of the members wants to question one of the rules – no matter how old it is – the concern is taken seriously. The respect between parents and children is capitalized – and not demanded unilaterally by the older generation.
The consequence: Unnecessary power struggles and outbursts of anger of children are in short supply in Danish families, since no authoritarian parenting style is required. Instead of fear of the parents there is a strong bond between the generations.
6. K uscheliges together
… better known as hygge for example: cozy, pleasant, comfortable, secure. “It’s the art of creating intimacy, a sense of close friendship, serenity and contentment, all combined in one concept,” is the apt definition of hygge .
The Danes understand that a strong social bond is fundamental to their well-being. Being with the family is an integral part of the Danes – no matter their age.
In order to take care of them, they cook, eat together, bake together on festive days and dance and sing around the Christmas tree – as a team. The resulting security is taught to the children from an early age. They find happiness in the arms of the family, their rock in the surf.