Back in 2013, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), released a study ranking the countries with the happiest children around the world. Out of the 29 countries UNICEF included in the report, the Netherlands ranked number one. A fact that caused parents around the globe to wonder what Dutch parents were doing differently, and how they could do it, too.
Negotiate Your Way to Happiness
According to the “Dutch Parenting” philosophy, children are encouraged to express their own opinions about a variety of topics. Courtney Glashow, a licensed clinical social worker and owner and psychotherapist at Anchor Therapy, explains to Parentology this means children are encouraged to speak up about their desires, even if their parents have already said no.
For Dutch parents, that may look like saying no when your child asks for ice cream for
This can lead to less temper tantrums and outbursts, especially for younger kids, who are more prone to react that way when they don’t get what they want.
‘Dutch Parenting’ Shouldn’t be Without Boundaries
Glashow warns the philosophy shouldn’t be used for everything. Children still need strict boundaries in place when it comes to parenting. “As a parent, it’s your job to set clear rules, such as a bedtime you deem appropriate and good for their health.” She adds, when it comes to reasons of health and safety, just because your child wants to have or do something, it doesn’t mean you have to give in to them.
There are also instances where parents just know best. Glashow uses social media as an example of where you can, and should, make hard and fast rules about what isn’t open for debate.
The Potential Downside
There’s a chance that children who are used to always getting what they want will think that every “no” is open for debate. They can grow up with a sense of entitlement, believing they’ll always be able to come to an agreement they’re satisfied with, which isn’t the case.
“They’ll have a very hard time hearing ‘no’ for any reason and just accepting that as the truth,” Glashow says. “That’s why it’s important for parents to create boundaries when it comes to parenting. There are some things you should be saying ‘no’ to which will help with your child’s safety, or show them what’s socially acceptable.”
Glashow also points out that with younger children topics will be easier to negotiate (like that ice cream for breakfast), but as they grow older, the things they want to do (like staying out past curfew) will likely become harder to handle.