The meaning of a parent, according to Denmark, the world’s happiest country

The meaning of a parent, according to Denmark, the world’s happiest country

Denmark is the world’s happiest nation, and part of the country’s secret lies hidden away in how its people are raised. Here’s the meaning of a parent, according to the Danes.


Denmark’s meaning of a parent

P is for Play

Our kids have days that are crammed full of classes and activities with even their play times running according to schedule. But in Denmark, the meaning of a parent has a lot to do with proximal development, which states that kids need space to learn and grow. Kids in Denmark are left to pursue their own interests, which allow them to gain trust in themselves. Parents in Denmark are present and available, but they’re not in control of or in the middle of activities.


A is for Authenticity

The Danes are a little hell-bent on not always making things seem like they have Hollywood-style happy endings. The Danes have a very realistic outlook on life, and they share it with their kids. They praise their kids for the right reasons and in the right way. Instead of praising them for their inherent intelligence, they’ll praise their kids for their hard work on learning to conquer a task.


R is for Reframing

In Denmark, it’s a thing to reframe an unpleasant situation and change your perception of it. If the weather is miserable, they’ll say that they’re glad they’re not on holiday. They believe that it’s about the way you look at things, so they teach their kids not to feel limited by their circumstances.


E is for Empathy

Empathy makes the world a better place, which is why it’s part of the Danish school system. The program is called Step by Step and sees kids being shown pictures of other kids demonstrating a range of emotions like fear, anger, and happiness. Kids are then asked to put into words what the other person is feeling. This helps teach them empathy, as well as the idea of reading facial expressions.


N is for No Ultimatums

Danish parents are firm yet responsive, and they set high standards for their kids, but they’re also supportive of them. They don’t expect total obedience from their kids, but they do expect appropriately mature behaviour from their kids.


T is for Togetherness

Hygge (pronounced hooga) is a Danish word that translated to “to cosy around together”. Families focus a lot of playing games together, taking breaks together, enjoying family meals, and enjoying each other’s company.

By Seldean Smith

Seldean Smith is the chief copywriter, ghostwriter, and mischief-maker over at Since 2012, she’s helped over 100 brands and individuals find their voice, and get seen & heard with content that truly speaks their language and fits their phenomenal work. Because words that lift hearts, ignite minds, and get results can do more than just change your business – they can change the world too. Wanna know more? Catch her ideas on writing as a full-time mom and the art of writing on her blog!

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