The internet’s been buzzing over the news that Dutch children are apparently the happiest in the world.
They’re independent, smart, healthy, fit and report a high level of life satisfaction, whereas American children (and likely Canadian children) were at the bottom of the pack and feeling miserable and frustrated.
Naturally, everyone is curious about what’s so different about parenting in the Netherlands, as well as what we can learn from them.
From chocolate-y breakfasts to forced fresh air, here are five tips I want to borrow from Dutch parents:
1. Give them boundaries, but lots of freedom.
Dutch parents might set a strict schedule that includes a nap — even for older children — but they give their children lots of unstructured time to do what they want. Kids are expected to entertain themselves during a playdate.
They also believe that giving a child whatever they want actually leads to unhappiness because they feel the world owes them everything and there’s always something else they want. So Dutch parents teach their kids the value of money and hard work at a young age.
2. Take the pressure off.
Dutch kids don’t start school officially until they’re six or seven and don’t have homework until they’re teenagers, but they still score at the top of the educational achievement charts.
No one pressures them to be the best or get straight As. They’re encouraged to play outside, enjoy a 45-minute recess and learn about things that interest them.
3. Shoo them outside more.
Dutch kids play outside constantly without supervision — climbing trees, getting muddy, making up games, whatever they want. They also walk or bike to school by themselves from a young age …
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