Parenting styles are as varied as the cultures and countries from which they originate. Different parenting styles have different approaches and expectations for how to raise children and prepare them for the future. The Danish style, is in the news at the moment due to the release of a book by Iben Sandahl. Although not her first, this one has shed light on the unique aspects of this parenting style with teenagers and how it has shaped generations of children in Denmark. We have looked before at parenting styles in different cultures, and how there are always lessons to be derived. Like with anything in parenting, if you are going to make fundamental changes to your parenting, it must be done in discussion with the other parent, as parenting is a team event, even if no longer part of the same team!
The Danish parenting style is primarily focused on providing a warm and nurturing environment while also giving children the freedom and autonomy to explore their interests and develop as individuals. Letting them make steps to independence in a supportive environment. This approach emphasizes respect, cooperation, and independence while also fostering empathy and understanding. Iben Sandahl’s work has focused on how this style of parenting has impacted childhood development, including the development of self-speech, autonomy, and an overall feeling of well-being in the child.
One of the key aspects of the Danish parenting style is the focus on creating an emotionally safe environment for the child. This means that parents strive to create an environment where the child can express their emotions freely and safely, without fear of repercussions. Instead of trying to strictly enforce rules, Danish parents focus on creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. This helps children to learn how to process emotion while also receiving support and encouragement from their parents.
Another important aspect of the Danish parenting style is the emphasis on communication. Danish parents encourage their children to communicate openly and honestly with them, regardless of the situation. This helps children to develop strong speaking and communication skills as well as healthy relationships with their parents.
In addition to communication, the Danish parenting style also emphasizes independence. This means that parents allow children to make their own decisions, within reason, and will provide guidance and support as needed. This helps to foster a sense of autonomy and decision-making skills in children from a young age.
Finally, the Danish parenting style is focused on cooperation and collaboration. A fundamental layer of mutual trust and respect. Parents don’t expect children to obey blindly; instead, they look for creative solutions to problems and work together as a team. This helps to foster a sense of collaboration and teamwork in children, preparing them for the real world.
In conclusion, the Danish parenting style, as championed by Iben Sandahl, is focused on creating an emotionally safe environment, encouraging communication, fostering independence, and emphasizing cooperation. These key principles are very similar to positive parenting, and fundamental good pastoral care. They can be summed up as follows.
5 Key Aspects to the Danish Way of Raising Children
Reading other reviews it would be easy to summarize that there is less discipline in Danish parenting. However this is not the case. Discipline is important in all parenting styles, the difference is how it might be implemented.
Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a key aspect of this parenting style. It involves rewarding children for good behavior and not punishing them for bad behavior. This is done through verbal praise, reward systems, and tangible rewards.
Respectful communication: Respectful communication is essential in this parenting style. Parents must communicate with their children in a respectful manner and take the time to listen to their children’s concerns and feelings.
Consistency: Consistency is vital in this parenting style. Parents must be consistent in their expectations and in the way they respond to their children’s behavior.
Empathy: Empathy is an important element of this parenting style. Parents must be able to demonstrate empathy towards their children, understanding their feelings and points of view.
Open-mindedness: Finally, open-mindedness is a key aspect of this parenting style. Parents must be open to new ideas and approaches, and be willing to learn from their mistakes.
Comparison Between the Danish and Authoritarian Parenting Styles
Parental anxiety can often make us become more authoritarian than our natural self. Authoritarian parenting is a parenting style characterized by strict rules and expectations and limited communication between parents and children. The authoritarian model of parenting often emphasizes obedience to authority and is based on a very black-and-white view of right and wrong. On the other hand, the Danish Model of parenting is a modern approach to parenting and is based on dialogue, understanding, and sensitivity.
In a study conducted by Iben Sandahl, the effects of authoritarian and Danish models of parenting were compared. According to the study, children in authoritarian households reported feeling less connected to their parents, feeling less secure, and having more difficulty expressing themselves. The study also found that authoritarian parenting was linked to higher levels of behavioral problems and lower levels of self-esteem.
In contrast, the Danish Model was found to have a positive effect on children’s emotional well-being. Children growing up in Danish households reported feeling more secure, having greater self-esteem, and being better able to express their emotions. They also experienced lower levels of behavioral problems and had better communication with their parents.
While both parenting styles have their strengths and weaknesses, the Danish Model is more effective in promoting children’s well-being. The model emphasizes empathy, understanding, and respect, while providing clear boundaries and expectations. This style allows children to experiment, express themselves freely, and develop a strong sense of identity.
However, it is important to note that there are no one-size-fits-all models of parenting. Each family structure is unique and different approaches may work better for different families. Parents should find a style that is comfortable for them and their family and work together to help their children develop healthy relationships, strong communication skills, and emotional resilience.
Should I Read the Book?
Through interviews with parents, educators, and young people, Sandahl provides a comprehensive look at the Danish way of raising teenagers. Sandahl begins by describing the foundational principles of Danish parenting style, which are centered on fostering trust and autonomy while encouraging open communication and dialogue. This approach stands in stark contrast to the rigid, hierarchical methods of parenting often used in other countries.
Sandahl then goes on to examine the benefits of the Danish approach. She notes, and it is supported by independent research that in Denmark, teenagers tend to have higher levels of academic achievement, social engagement, and overall well-being than their peers in other countries. This is likely due to their greater independence and self-determination. Furthermore, Sandahl cites research that shows that teenagers who understand how to manage their emotions and behavior are better equipped to transition into adulthood.
The book is balanced in that it also delves into the challenges of parenting in Denmark. The culture in Denmark is one of far more independence for children than the USA or the UK. Therefore finding the balance between allowing teenagers to make their own decisions and providing guidance to ensure that those decisions are well-informed. Therefore rather than lazy, parents need to manage the potential pitfalls that come with a more laissez-faire approach, such as teenagers feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility or taking unnecessary risks.
So should you read the book? It is interesting, however the key lessons are not specific to Denmark. It is just more evidence that parenting is about a positive interaction with your children and helping guide them to independence. Although sounding easier than overly hands-on, it is more of a conscious parenting style made of many conversations and small-steps.
Final Thoughts on the Danish Model
Firstly I think this is unfair to describe this as the ‘Danish Model’, much as there is no such thing as an American model. However, as we discuss in this article, cultures rather than nationalities do have trends. The main angle of this book is the opposite of helicopter parenting. The statistics of happiness and life outcomes must make us look at what could be the reasons for differences. In the same way a Doctor looks at variations in diet and health outcomes. As parents we are, by far, the biggest defining factor in the outcomes for our children. As in all trends, just like diet, the fundamentals of the Danish style of parenting described by Iben Sandhel, is just good parenting. Show your child unquestionable love and support, let them make mistakes and then help them learn from them through a nurturing environment. It is the case in places like Scandinavia however that more of the population think this way and, as such, it is easy for families to do this as it is the norm.