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Dutch kids are happy because they’re egocentric


Children in the Netherlands

According to a survey carried out by research institute TNS Nipo for the Volkskrant and broadcaster NCRV, a few eyebrow-raising conclusions were drawn about raising children in the Netherlands:

“Parents spoil their children too much and do not teach them to take others into consideration. The survey also says that 75% of older generations are not happy with the way children are raised. Child-centred upbringing has been the trend in the Netherlands since the 1970s as a result of smaller families and growing prosperity and this had led to a generation which is demanding and self-centred.”

My Dutch friends refer to annoying kids or parents who let their kids walk all over them by pointing to them in disgust and saying “ikke ikke ikke”, which means “me me me”. A recent case in point was a little boy of about two who kept hitting other smaller children at a children’s party and the parents stopping him, but not reprimanding him in order to stop the behaviour. This went on the whole time I was there. What I’ve heard is reprimanding your kids is bad for them (?) and so getting them to stop bad behaviour has to involve not making them feel bad.

How does that work? It doesn’t. I saw a man hit a five-year-old on the head (!) in an organic supermarket populated by the middle class because he kept poking the man and the mother let it happen. The mother actually had no problem with the swat, as she got to avoid the ‘confrontation’ of trying to punish her own son. Guess what? The kid stopped his bad behaviour.

“However, Dutch children are also the happiest in the western world, according to a World Health Organisation survey in 2008. The report found they are the most pleased with life, get on well with their parents, have a large social network and like their schools. A UNICEF report a year earlier also found that Dutch teenagers are the happiest in the developed world.”

Hell, I’d be happy too if you let me do what I wanted all the time!

Is being all “ikke ikke ikke” a really good universal value to teach your children?

(Link:, Photo: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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  1. Branko Collin says:

    Those damn kids and their loud music!

  2. lola granola says:

    I agree with your comments orangemaster! If I was a kid, I’d certainly be happy if I could do what I pleased and act as I liked, and nobody said a word.

    IMHO Dutch parents tend to treat their children like mini adults, or mates on equal footing. But parents are not mates – they are role models who should give firm but fair discipline and sometimes put themselves in a situation where they are not liked or popular with their children, because some decisions have got be made by adults, not an underdeveloped child who just wants an easy life.

    Otherwise you wind up with spoiled, selfish brats who grow up thinking they’re the center of the universe.

    I am all for giving a child a voice and having them listened to, but to indulge them to the point where they are unmanageable isn’t doing them any good in the long run.

    Ultimately, kids need structure, rules and guidelines, with lots of praise and encouragement. They don’t *need* parents who act like friends – they will have plenty of those throughout their lifetime. Friends come and go, and a lot of the time they can let you down – especially when you are young. What kids DO need, are parents who are strong and supportive, but lay down clear guidelines for them.

    As someone who spent several years working in the Dutch education system, the way I have seen parenting in Holland, this is the last thing that the parents supply… Sure they will take their 13 year old daughter to get “the pill” so they won’t get pregnant, go for a drink at the bar with them, and treat them as they would their adult mates, but to my mind this is lazy parenting which doesn’t involve a lot of time or effort.

  3. […] year around this time, we wrote about Dutch kids being happy because they’re egocentric and in 2007 some Dutch mothers I know justified giving up work and career by pointing out that […]

  4. […] Our past posts on the issue: Dutch kids are happy because they’re egocentric. […]

  5. Esther says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Children here are treated like little royals. No responsibility, everything is done for them, no discipline and I don’t just mean a smack or being sent to their room when they need it. They have no discipline as in teaching them to look after their own hygiene, to not scream and whine when they’re told no, to behave responsibly, to stop expecting everything to be handed to them, to stop being self-centered to the bone, to clean up their own mess and the list goes on and on. I see it everywhere I go here. Spoiled brats are absolutely all over the place. It’s so uncomfortable when you’re at someones house and they are clearly so pleased with their children and all I can think is I want to go right that second and wish I’d never have come over so I didn’t have to witness the revolting way children are raised to be completely dependent on their parents here. Everyone is just their for the convenience of these children. Unfortunately I have to deal with a 9 year old stepson who has always had everything done for him, never been disciplined, mess as f*ck and just treats everyone like his personal slaves. It’s pathetic. I don’t do a thing for him and I never will.

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