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The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids Paperback – August 9, 2016
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--Heather Shumaker, author of It's OK Not to Share and It's OK to Go Up the Slide
"Everyone around the globe can gain something from the valuable wisdom found in this book. Concepts such as reframing and hygge prove useful to families from all cultures. It's wonderful to see that Danish parenting has so much in common with Positive Parenting! I highly recommend this book!"
--Rebecca Eanes, author of Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide
"With a profound understanding of the positive impact that empathy and connectedness bring to parenting, The Danish Way empowers parents across the globe to check their own default settings and consider the whole child. Their take on the importance of free play is a breath of fresh air in a time when young children are over-scheduled and under stress. Highly recommended for parents everywhere."
--Katie Hurley, LCSW, author of The Happy Kid Handbook
"Having studied the the reasons behind the Danish happiness model for years. I found this book to be a clear-sighted, very useful and smart guide on how to improve your own happiness level as a parent and how to foster happier children the Danish way. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to give themselves and/or their children the best chances of a happy life."
--Malene Rydahl, keynote speaker and Goodwill ambassador of Copenhagen
“I believe in free play. I read this amazing parenting book called The Danish Way of Parenting, which talks so much about free play and how it really develops their mind."
--Kristen Bell, on Parents.com
About the Author
Iben Dissing Sandahl is a licensed psychotherapist and family counselor working for many years in her private practice outside Copenhagen, Denmark. Learn more at: thedanishway.com.
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The Danish Way of Parenting encourages us to take a long view in children's development, and this can allow us to see our role as parents in a new way. For example, the authors claim that in Denmark there is no such thing as the "Terrible Twos." Of course two-year-olds in Denmark are not some placid freaks of nature, but the Danes call this step in children's development the "Boundary Age," and don't see it as something to dread or get upset about. In other words, while we in US tend to see a two-year old at a defiant, willful stage that we must deal with by establishing our authority, the Danes see this age as the time when children start growing and experimenting to find out about the world and their abilities. Part of that experimentation involves the child learning where his boundaries are. No one argues that the child should get his way through temper tantrums, but it's easier not to overreact to children's behavior if we don't frame it as a direct challenge to our authority, but instead see it as an attempt to find out where their boundaries are.
Much of the Danish way to parent seems to depend more on both parents being more involved in hands on parenting than we usually see in the United States. And their culture seems to encourage more interaction with the extended family than ours does, with their socializing appearing to be more child centered than ours. Those sorts of conditions require a larger number of people being on the same page to support children, and may not be useful as a model here. But the general way Danes see children's development and their relationship to their children might shed a lot of light on child rearing practices we can, and perhaps should, change.
I had such high expectations. But, alas, it's not particularly helpful. I'm in the trenches with twins. Our biggest parenting challenges? Sibling fights, Bath time, Dinner time, Bed time, crying, whining. So I rush to the table of contents and the index and look for these very specific items. Uhhhh... nothing. Except dinner time. Which the advice is essentially "don't worry about it."
It seems some of their perspectives about American parenting seem to be a bit behind the times. I literally know zero parents who are raising their kids the way the authors describe American parents.
Helpful: Reminder for mom and dad to know their limits and take time for themselves. Yadda, yadda, yadda... that's on every talk show and every advice column and every Facebook parenting page. Parents can only self-regulate to a certain degree. After awhile, come on... the kids have to step-up to levels of maturity to match their development.
More helpful: The most helpful section is deep towards the end of the book. "Hygge time". We've modified it and it is helpful. We call it Cozy Time. Time when the kids and I simply sit on the biggest bed in the house, lower the lights and we talk and laugh and find out what's up in their heads. We won't be expanding it to the complete Danish Hygge thing (they're only 5) but time-out to breathe together, sit together, with no agenda and see what pops up for laughs and interest -- this is very valuable.
Our kids are already 99% screen-free, TONS of time outside climbing trees, discovering nature, extensive play time, no-pressure for school, lots of laughs, tons of creativity, tons of drawing, making stuff, mom volunteers at school to see them in their element, constantly educating ourselves as parents and trying to justify babysitting expenses for nights out.
If you're in the Danish culture and you have literally hundreds of people around you who have been brought up this same way, then these ways probably work. If you are an American parent, looking for parenting advice, I don't know if this book will help you. I'd suggest you borrow from the library or a friend and if you find it enlightening, then buy it.
I too, love Danish things, simple furniture, philosophies, etc - but when you realize that Denmark is right behind the United Kingdom in alcoholics per capita, (Data from World Health Organization) one has to have a clue that there is a lot of repression in the Danish culture. Repressing true feelings and repressing social or other innovations in order to "get along". Alcohol certainly looks like a "helper" when one is emotionally repressed.
My favorite and most helpful parenting book continues to be: HAVE A NEW KID BY FRIDAY. Following most and then modifying some of his hard lines in parenting when the kids are younger has been very helpful for us.
Top international reviews
Probably the best book I will ever read, due to its impact on how I will be a parent.
Easy read though!
Arrived quickly and safely