It is always interesting to think that certain ways of raising a child are common while others are very unique! I came across this article and was drawn into the subtle but charming approach to parenting in the Netherlands. As a first world country known for tulips, wooden shoes and windmills, there’s a lot more than meets the eye 😉
According to Unicef’s most recent Child Well Being in Rich Countries survey, Dutch kids ranked as the happiest kids in the world. They led the way in three out of the five categories, namely- material well being, educational well being, and behaviour and risks.
Here are the 8 reasons Dutch kids are consistently ranked by different research organizations as the happiest kids on the globe:
1. Their parents are among the happiest people in the world! (ranked 4th, specifically)
2. Dutch women don’t get depressed- according to many studies women in the Netherlands have great social freedom and expression, flexible work hours so that they can balance work-life, and a lot of respect in the culture.
3. Dads in the Netherlands take a more equal approach to parenting- 1 in 3 dads work part-time and dads that take 1 day off a week, to watch the kids, are so common that this has the name “Papa dag” (daddy day). Overall they take parenting very seriously.
4. Dutch schooling is more focused on learning than testing- Dutch students under the age of 10 usually don’t have homework and are encouraged to just enjoy the learning process. By 12 they take a multiple choice test which determines their relative intelligence level and highly influences what high school they should attend, accordingly. For the most part, there is no formal competitive University application process.
5. They can eat chocolate sprinkles on their buttered bread every morning- a breakfast staple in the Netherlands, “Hagelslag” sprinkles take up a whole section in the grocery store and there are endless variations and varieties of sprinkles to choose from! This genuine excitement over breakfast has led to Dutch children eating breakfast with their family most regularly in the world (according to Unicef). Not only is eating breakfast associated with better performance in school and decreased behavioural problems, but eating breakfast daily as a family creates opportune time for family bonding and fostering individual identity and growth.
6. They have a right to express their own opinions- Dutch kids are supported in forming their own ideas and expressing themselves as soon as they can. Dutch parents listen very intently to their children.
7. The Dutch have Oma Day- Dutch grandmothers “Oma’s” take great pride in raising their grandchildren and help out with them usually once a week, giving the parents more time to balance their lives
8. The government gives families money each month to help raise children- No matter the state of the economy, Dutch families receive a child allowance, a child benefit stipend (an income-dependent allowance for the cost of children), the combination discount (a fiscal break for combining work and caring for children) and the childcare allowance. This takes a great financial burden off of the shoulders of parents.