5 tips for raising happy children the Danish way

5 tips for raising happy children the Danish way
Source: Shutterstock

For about 40 years the Denmark it is at the top of the ranking of the happiest countries made annually by the United Nations ("World Happiness Report"). But what is the secret of all this well-being?

TEACH: trust (trust), empathy (empathy), authenticity (sincerity), courage (courage) and hygge (the art of being well together): this is what the method consists of.

We interviewed the American writer and journalist Jessica Joelle Alexander, author of the book The new Danish method to educate children for happiness and school in the family (Newton Compton Editori).

According to the journalist behind the secret of happiness in Denmark, there are the way parents and children relate and the educational criteria of children at home and in schools.

Thus, the expert decided to develop a revolutionary manual to explain the secret of Danish families to parents all over the world.

READ ALSO: Parent, the Danish method to be happy

Read also: Educational games for children according to the Danish method

Writing a book on the Danish educational method: why?

Jessica Joelle Alexander is married to a Dane and says in the book that embracing Danish culture and having children in Denmark was the most transformative and enlightening experience of her life for her. She explained that she saw that the Danes did amazing things in education and parenting, unlike any other culture.

“I am convinced that their education and parenting are some of the main reasons why Denmark has been elected as one of the happiest countries in the world for over 40 consecutive years. I believe that if parents and teachers take over just one or two ideas from my book, children will be able to grow up happier ”.

Danish educational method, what it consists of

«The acronym I use in the book is TEACH: trust (trust), empathy (empathy), authenticity (sincerity), courage (courage) and hygge (the art of being good together). In the text I talk about the many ways in which Danes raise their children, aiming not only for the future of work, but also for well-being. The verb "to teach" in Danish means both "to teach" and "to learn". They are interchangeable verbs and I love this interchangeability, because it shows how the Danes see learning as reciprocal and how they treat children with respect ».

“There is tremendous attention at home and at school on what they call trivsel, which essentially corresponds to the happiness of children and the way they grow up. Just like plants, humans are 'organic' beings and grow in different ways with different needs. Like a dandelion and an orchid, for example. If you give an orchid the right conditions to grow, it becomes an extraordinarily beautiful plant. If you don't, it dries up and dies. This is essentially the view that mirrors the educational method of children in Denmark. Specifically, it is about seeing the little ones for who they are and helping them to grow and manifest the best versions of themselves».

The difference between the educational system of Denmark and that of other countries, such as, for example, America

Jessica explains that the Danish method is based onlearning through free play, on the trust that the child learns to place in himself, on collaboration, connection and empathy and not on individualism and competition.

"There is a huge attention to thesocial and emotional learning and I think this contributes to their well-being because it is the foundation of human relationships, practically a key factor for our happiness and something we desperately need for the future. "

If trust in your children is a fundamental thing, should you give up on being protective?

"Yup. It's not easy, but it's really important. Children learn a lot by testing their limits and handling risky situations. This is how they begin to feel capable, confident and gain self-esteem ».

“It has to be understood that most parents who constantly hinder children do so because they believe it is the right thing to do. Indeed, we practically inherit this way of doing from our parents: we look like machines that always repeat the same things: "No don't do it, be careful, etc." and we say them without even thinking about it. But these constant "No" and "Pay attention" focus on the needs of the parents and not the needs of the child. If we take the time to learn to be aware of our language, we can learn to encourage our children and help them develop trust rather than mistrust and fear, and this is crucial for their self-esteem! "

How is it possible for parents to develop empathy in children, according to the Danish method?

Alexander explains that in Denmark empathy is taught in school and the way it is done is very fascinating.

“There's something called Class Hour, for example, where every week in schools we take time to develop the children's ability to put themselves in each other's shoes and then eat cake together. The teachers teach them to read emotions with pictures, books and role-playing games and educate them to manage difficult situations. The parents also reflect on what their child feels, so he knows he has been seen and heard ».

«They say to the little one 'I see that you are sad' instead of 'Stop crying' or 'You have nothing to be sad about'. Children's emotions are not ignored, but rather acknowledged and this often avoids "power struggles". It takes practice, but empathy can be an incredibly powerful tool. I can say that he has drastically changed me as a parent and has also changed my relationship with the children. I believe that if we concentrated more on this, the world could change for the better ».

Talk about sincerity. How can we explain, for example, death to the little ones?

“Danes start at a very young age to read stories about all kinds of situations, including death. The Little Mermaid, for example, is a Danish fairy tale and in the original version the mermaid dies of sadness and turns into sea foam. I remember that it seemed very strange to me to read stories about death, but my daughter has always asked me so many questions and has been extremely useful for us ».

Jessica says that the Danish approach to sincerity is that of ranswer children's questions as honestly as possible in an age-appropriate manner. You don't always have the answers and that's okay, it's rather the sincerity that counts: the children want it from us.

“When my father-in-law died last year, I was grateful for the 'Danish method' that had led me to talk so much about death. My daughter already knew what was happening and we were able to be there, for each other, and to feel sadness and pain at the same time. This is the crux of Danish authenticity: prepares children for real life, not a fairy tale life and shows them all the beauty that exists in truthrather than in fantasy. This builds children's resilience, as they are not so easily shocked or knocked over by ups and downs. The thing to remember is that it is often adults, not children, who are uncomfortable talking about certain things ».

Bullying, what the Danish method involves

Jessica says the Danes have a program in schools called "Free From Bullying" which has reduced the problem from 25% to 7%. “They see bullying as a group problem and never blame a single child. They found that as they improve the level of fællesskab in the class (together), bullying decreases. As Helle Baktoft, a Roskilde bullying expert, says, there are no bad children, just bad group dynamics. '

Advice to parents to increase the well-being in the family, according to the Danish method

1. Check your language

According to Jessica, try to be aware of how many times you are saying "no" and find ways to rephrase the language to encourage rather than hinder the child. There are many examples in the book.

“For example, if you see them on the playground and they say 'Mommy look at me!', Try saying, 'I see you're having fun!' Rather than 'Be careful' or 'Get off.' One of the most powerful things we can change as parents is the language we inherited from our parents. Often, the simple awareness of these automatisms can make a big difference ».

2. Read all kinds of stories to the little ones

Try reading books that encompass all emotions and situations, including sadness, death, childbirth, divorce, fear, and anxiety. Conversations about these stories can create not only a special relationship with the child, but also empathy and resilience.

3. Be as honest as possible

Children don't want perfection from their parents, they want emotional honesty and sincerity. “We don't always have the answers to their questions, but the more we can tell them the truth about life, the better prepared and resilient they will be. Remember that adults often have more difficulties than children. If we are fine, they are fine too ».

4. Try Hygge

“One of the most powerful factors that lead to happiness is our connection with others. In Denmark this is prioritized with a concept called hygge. It is perhaps one of the most used words in the Danish language. Hygge is essentially a safe psychological space for families and friends to be together and prioritize leisure time. Always try to carve out some "sacred" time together where there is no negativity, no complaints or reproaches. This can make a huge difference in the well-being of families. If you want to know more, download the "hygge oath" and put it on the fridge. Many families have told me that he has been of great help. "

5. Buy the book or join the "Danish Method" Facebook group

“For parents or teachers who want to improve their well-being and that of their children or pupils, I highly recommend reading my book. You can also join the Facebook group where there are other parents. Together we can make a difference ».

To learn more:

  • the Danish PARENT method for raising happy children
  • Hygge, how to bring Danish happiness into your own homes
  • Lago and Hygge, tips for being happy



How to raise happy children: 7 PRACTICAL tips from Harvard University

go to the gallery

All parents want their children to grow up realizing their talents and be happy. According to researchers at Harvard University, these goals are achieved ...

Updated on 10.07.2022

  • happiness
  • family well-being
  • jessica alexander
add a comment of 5 tips for raising happy children the Danish way
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.