Over the next few weeks I’d like to share some thoughts with you on how we can make our teenagers capable and happy, it is based on current research and on the Danish way of parenting, The Danes since 1973 have been voted consistently as the happiest people in the world, so what’s their secret?
You may have heard of “Hygge” pronounced hooga, the Danes class this as the quality time spent with family and or friends, social interaction is the single most indicator to happiness and also a longer life. In our modern day, it can be a challenge to spend time together as a family, most parents work and have commitments outside the home but there are small changes you can make which might make all the difference.
We know our teenagers like to spend time alone often in bedrooms, welded to Xboxes or iPhones, but this, in reality, might be making them more withdrawn and unhappy. The competition is relentless on social media, and our children wait eagerly for likes and comments, sometimes faced with disappointment or worse still, unkind comments. By looking at other’s lives and what they have and comparing it to their own, children may feel unfulfilled and inferior. As adults, we might be able to process that this world is not real. My favourite quote about FB was “When you post your status’- don’t forget that I really know you”. However, our children may be unable to realise this as they do not have our experience, and here is where we need to help them.
One solution to address the balance is to limit “tech time”. Despite what our children tell us, they will not be the odd one out as “everyone is on it”. Discuss as a family and set limits to technology – it’s important for our children to be able to amuse themselves away from the constant stimulation of technology. It is also important they have time to relax away from it, have downtime and have other hobbies. The is an app called “our pact” which many parents find useful, which helps to limit time spent on technology and parents also have the power to disarm devices – a useful sanction.
So here is the task for the week: quickly count up the amount of actual time you spend with the children talking, hanging out, engaging in activities together, then think of how you could put your Hygge time in. It doesn’t need to be a grand act – watching a film, chatting about the day, drying dishes – are all a start, and trust me your child will love it (even if they say they don’t)!
Could you discuss together what they would like to do with you? Just the fact that you’ve asked will make them feel valued. One last thing – if they decline your invitations at least they know you care enough to have asked.