I love to read parenting books – but not the mainstream ones that advocate use of the naughty step or time outs. I don’t do either of those things (you can read about why, here). I am a big fan of gentle parenting and enjoy reading books about a more calm, child-centred approach to raising children. So I was excited to come across this book.
The Danish Way of Parenting is by an American who is married to a Dane, and a Danish psychotherapist. For those who don’t know, the Danes are consistently found to be the happiest nation of people in the world. In study after study, they come out as happier and more resilient than the rest of us. So if they’re all growing up to be such happy adults, surely the way they are raised as children has something to teach us? The book is broken down into chapters focusing on 6 principles (which handily spell “PARENT”):
Play – an essential part of children’s development which is often overlooked in favour of endless learning and tests
Authenticity – teaching children how to be themselves and trust their own feelings, being honest, not always needing a happy ending, and using “process praise”
Reframing – learning to cope with setbacks by reframing them and looking on the bright side
Empathy – acting with kindness towards our children and teaching them to be kind towards others
No ultimatums – “if you do that again you’re not having a treat” and other such nonsense is a great way to build resentment, not improve relationships.
Togetherness and hygge – spending time just together without TV or phones; just cosy family time.
I absolutely loved this book. It gives great parenting tips and solid reasons for why they work. Each chapter gives real life examples of situations and references studies to back up what they’re saying.
The idea of hygge became massive last year and for a while it was everywhere. Of course, you couldn’t really expect to have a book about the Danish way of anything without mentioning hygge but what was said in this chapter really made sense to me. It’s the idea that you should spend time together as a family, having fun without technology or distractions, and also making the effort to be kind to each other.
Being kind to each other is probably the main theme of this book. Rather than being the authoritarian because I said so sort of parent, this book advocates a more kind and gentle, respectful approach where you talk to your child, reason with them, listen to their responses.
Honestly, I wish I could give a copy of this book to every new parent; I think it serves as a better manual for parenting than a lot of the popular “parenting guru” books out there.