For 40 years, Denmark has been at the top of the World Happiness Report, the ranking of the happiest countries drawn up every year by the United Nations. And starting from this fact, the Danish psychologist Iben Sandahl and the American journalist, married to a Dane, Jessica Alexander, went to search for the origin of this happiness.
The result is that the basis of this fulfillment is the way parents and children relate.
So the two experts decided to develop a practical guide to explain the secret of Danish families to parents all over the world: "The Danish method for raising happy children" (Newton Compton Editori).
The authors called this method P.A.R.E.N.T. (parent in English), which is an acronym for:
- Play (game),
- Reframing (renovation),
- Empathy (empathy),
- No Ultimatums (no ultimatums),
- Toghetherness (intimacy).
Here's how it works:
In this article
- Play - game
- Authenthicity - authenticity
- Reframing - renovation
- empathy - empathy
- No Ultimatums - no ultimatums
- Toghetherness - intimacy
The authors tell in their book that in Denmark children are allowed to play much more than in other countries, including Del Paese, where parents tend to plan their children's afternoons with many extracurricular activities (sports, music, language. ..).
Now even the latest scientific research has shown the importance of free play.
It is free play that teaches children to be less anxious and to develop resilience, that is the ability to know how to manage emotions and stress. This is why play is a very important activity for the growth of children.
Read also: Why children should be left free to play
Here are the tips for letting children free to play:
- turn off all digital devices. Imagination is enough to play
- let them create spontaneously
- let them play as much as possible in the fresh air
- let them play alone
- if they argue, avoid intervening
- leave them free to experiment and don't protect them too much
Be sincere and help children recognize and accept their true feelings, good or bad. Always try to tell the truth (explained appropriately for age).
And be authentic in praising children.
Too many compliments can sound hollow and false and don't help self-esteem. In front of a drawing instead of saying "masterpiece", focus on the work: perhaps asking the little one "why did you use those colors?", "What were you thinking about when you made it?". This helps to focus on the task and teaches humility. Make children aware that they can master a skill, rather than delude them that they are already masters.
Praise for commitment and perseverance promotes motivation and resilience.
Read also: Education: 9 phrases you should NEVER say to your child
Restructuring means dealing with an unpleasant situation from another perspective, so that it appears a little less negative. Restructuring is the foundation of resilience.
Try to find the positive side of things with your little ones.
You can use two aids: a sense of humor and a memory of a happy past moment. For example, in front of a sad and angry child because he played bad football, you can say: "Did you break your leg?"; "No, but I played badly"; "Yes, it's true you didn't play well, but at least you didn't break your leg!". And then: "Do you remember that you scored in the last game? Do you remember how happy you were? Some days are good, others bad. Now let's think about what we can do to help you play better next time!".
4. Empathy (Empathy)
Empathy is the ability to connect with others and develops in childhood thanks to the relationship with the attachment figure. The child first learns to tune into the emotions and moods of the mother and later those of other people. The newborn feels what the mother feels like in front of a mirror.
To educate them to empathy you must help your child understand the emotions of others and at the same time experience his own. So in front of the crying child say "Why are you crying? What makes you angry?". Show that you understand "I understand that you are sad" and do not diminish her feelings by saying phrases like: "Come on, don't be sad!".
And to increase his empathy, read him books that embrace all emotions, even negative ones.
Also read: 5 practical tips for teaching empathy to children
5. No ultimatums
The parenting approach of the Danes is based more on authority than on authoritarianism. So no punishment or spanking and no tug-of-war or ultimatum.
"Command by instilling fear involves a problem, because respect is not promoted: fear is promoted" explain the authors.
Here are some tips to avoid ultimatums and screams:
- remember that there is no bad child, only bad behavior
- try to understand that children are good by nature
- - educate children in the rules and do not punish them. Handle conflicts with authority, firmness but also calm and affection
- Always explain the rules of behavior well and ask your child if he / she understands them. The more you explain things using ways that children can understand the better. This approach conveys respect and helps put you and the children on the same side by sharing a common goal
- the calm kind calm
Read also: How to educate children without resorting to punishment
One of the secrets of Danish families is their lifestyle: spending as much time as possible with friends and family. AND create an intimate and welcoming atmosphere at home: lighting candles, playing together, preparing good food, enjoying a cake and a cup of tea, all while enjoying each other's company and intimacy.
The Danes call this state "hygge".
And when big families get together for Christmas too, everyone works together to be positive, welcoming and leave disagreements aside (think, instead, how often these family reunions with us turn into occasions for confrontation and gossip).
Hygge in Denmark is also taught at school: children work on group projects that encourage them to learn and help others. The best students are encouraged to be empathetic and to care about others.
Some tips for bringing coziness and hygge into your family reunions:
- make the atmosphere cozy: candles, hand-made decorations, food cooked together ...
- stop complaining
- if something is wrong, use reframing to see things in a more positive light
- few objects: do not fill the house with toys and junk, make sure that everything is simple. And above all, turn off TV, smartphones and tablets.
- encourage children to play: give them paints to paint or let them play outside. Avoid entertaining them with digital devices
- organize group activities: treasure hunts, have a tournament. Be creative
- teach your children that family is a team
- celebrate intimacy every day: remember that hygge isn't limited to large family gatherings - you can practice it on weekends even if it's just you with your child
Read also: Learning children, limit the use of tablets and smartphones
- children education
- happy parents
- 3-5 children years