Now that my sons are in their teens, I can see what I did right and what I should have done differently as a parent. I know I’m guilty of over-parenting at times, but that’s not uncommon in America. Fortunately, both of my boys are doing fine, despite my mistakes.
I’ve rarely used any advice given to me by other parents. However, had any of that advice come from Scandinavian parents, I think I would have followed it. In addition to building safe cars, Scandinavians seem to raise well-adjusted humans.
Moms and dads in Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) have a more laid back approach to child-rearing that seems to work quite well for them. It’s not that they’re doing anything radical. These ideas are just sort of old-fashioned, but in a good way:
Dirt is normal – Making mud pies and stomping in puddles is messy, but in Scandinavia it’s no big deal to come home from playtime dirty.
Downplay gender – Scandinavian parents are less into gender reveal parties and more into treating boys and girls equally.
Falling down is just part of life – They tend to be less worried if little Bjorn falls down and scrapes his knee.
Go outside every day – Nordic parents know how important it is for kids to dig in the dirt, climb trees, and breathe fresh air.
Less worry about screen time – American parents constantly fret about how much tablet time their kids are getting. Scandinavians don’t worry as much because their children spend so much time outside and engaged in other activities.
Napping in fresh air is key – This one sounds a little crazy. Scandinavians bundle up their kids and let them nap outside, even when it’s freezing. They feel that cold, clean air is essential to their health. These people are descendants of Vikings, after all.
No need to sanitize everything – Antibacterial wipes don’t sell as well in Scandinavia as they do in the U.S.
No school until seven – Kids get to enjoy childhood longer and don’t typically start elementary school until age seven.
No spanking – Sweden has literally banned spanking as a punishment for kids. Instead, the emphasis is on positive reinforcement.
Total supervision is overrated – Fewer helicopter parents mean kids have more opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. In Scandinavia, nearly 75% of fourth-graders walk or ride their bikes to school.