P is for play
American kids seem to have every minute of their day stuffed with classes and activities; even playtimes are scheduled. Danes, on the other hand, follow a philosophy called “proximal development,” which basically states that kids need space to learn and grow (with a little help, if necessary). Children are left to pursue their own interests, enabling them to try new things and build their own trust in themselves. While parents are present and available, they’re not in control or in the middle of activities. Keep in mind that the Danes invented Legos, a toy in which the whole point is free and creative play. Must read: Why are good U.S. parents being charged with child neglect?
A is for authenticity
Americans who watch Danish movies or Danish books will notice pretty quickly that they seem a little downbeat and do not offer Hollywood-style happy endings. For example, in the original version of The Little Mermaid, writer Hans Christian Andersen did not let his heroine get the prince; in the Disney movie, not only does Ariel get married to Prince Eric but she also gets to remain human forever. The Danes possess a realistic outlook on life, and they share it with their children. This can be seen in how they praise their children—they believe in praising them for the right reason in the right way. Danish parents will praise a child for their hard work in learning to conquer a task, rather than praise them for the inherent intelligence that enabled them to do so. This approach teaches kids that they can learn to do anything, as opposed to possessing only the capabilities they were born with and being incapable of improvement. These are five myths parents buy into (but shouldn’t).