Family / 9 February 2017, 5:30pm / Marchelle Abrahams
What makes happy kids? Authors Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison think they may have the answer with the introduction of their new book The Happiest Kids In The World – Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way.
In a recent Unicef study, Dutch children came out on top as the happiest all round.
Both women are married to Dutchmen and have chosen to raise their children in Holland. In the book they examine the unique environment that enables the Dutch to turn out content children, and offer their experienced points of view.
Why are Dutch babies more content?
Dutch parents don’t submit to the unrealistic demands of intensive parenting. They simply approach it with the aim of being a “good-enough parent” – just keep calm and know that your best is good enough. The authors explain that the Dutch do the exact opposite to what other modern parents do. They focus on avoiding over-stimulating their babies by sticking to a schedule regarding feeding and nap times. But is it really that simple? Apparently it comes down to sleep. The Dutch don’t compromise on their nap times and the same goes for their babies. A well-rested baby is a content baby, as the saying goes.
How are Dutch children so well-behaved?
In the Netherlands children are encourage to act spontaneously, says co-author Michele Hutchison. They believe in inspiring children to explore their surroundings, even if it means doing so in a noisy manner. Surprisingly, most of them base their parenting style on Dr Benjamin Spock’s famous Baby And Childcare book, taking a more relaxed approach to discipline, but within boundaries.
During her research Hutchison found that discipline is not punishment-based. Instead it’s all about teaching socially appropriate behaviour. She also came across a parenting style based on the Australian- devised Triple P Positive Parenting principles.
Triple P Positive Parenting has five basic principles:
● Create a safe and engaging environment.
● Create a positive learning environment.
● Use assertive discipline (set ground rules, praise good behaviour).
● Have realistic expectations.
● Take care of yourself as a parent.
Why don't Dutch teens rebel?
Dutch teenagers always seem open and friendly to all types, Hutchison observes. She uses her sister-in-law’s three teens as an example of polite and pleasant adolescents, never taking on the requisite sulky moods of a typical teen. Dutch children don't wear school uniforms, so there isn't the need to assert their identity in extreme ways. She sums up the analogy perfectly by stating, “It seems that if you give children a bike and let them choose their own clothes, they will make practical choices.”
“Perhaps, not having a school uniform, these kids don't need to assert their individuality or prove a point. Perhaps in a society where sexuality is accepted as natural and teenagers are well-informed, they don't need to express their sexuality in inappropriate, provocative ways?”
* The Happiest Kids In The World – Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way is available on www.loot.co.za