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?