Parenting is never easy. There's no way around it, and no amount of lying can change that. There's no special formula that works across the board, and certainly does not apply around the world either. Different cultures have their own way of cooking, dressing, respect for others and the environment, and parenting too - yes - parents are different.
What is considered the norm in terms of parenting styles, may not be obvious for another parent, thousands of miles away. This isn't about religion or rules of living, it's about values. As moms will hear from other moms around the world, the ultimate goal of what they do with their children and to their children is to create an independence and the ability to be self-confident. And, above all, to be a productive and valuable human being altogether.
While parents immerse in their own cultures and parenting styles, it isn't until they have met other parents or kids from other backgrounds and cultures, that they realize there's a world of difference in how they raise our own, compared to how others raise theirs. But, it is definitely good to be open-minded and learn from others. Moms and dads can pick up a few positive tips that can have worked for another's personal scenario, if not ultimately help their own child become a better person. Check out these 20 tips from moms around the world, they're amazing!
18 Guatemala: Sharing Is Apparently Not Caring
To share or not to share? That is the question. Most of us grew up knowing that sharing is caring, at least that's what we were taught by our parents and kindergarten teachers. But what if you came across another family with kids, while you're out at the park or at a children's fun day, and to your amazement, the other kids don't share? First, you'd say "sharing is caring" or something along those lines. But, otherwise, you'd be surprised, right?
Well, this would not be a surprising factor in Guatemala as they are not allowed to share! Woah. Let's take a moment.
A study was conducted that compared a group of Guatemalan Mayan toddlers and American tots, in which the former were allowed to do what they wanted without being asked to share or give up a toy to a sibling. This was for the hope that they would, eventually, learn to share at their own pace, and not because they were forced to. American children are taught to share from birth, so this test was quite interesting to see how it played out. It ended with something super cute, that only kids can do that will melt the hearts of all around, the Guatemalan Mayan kids started to share and freely modeled the generous behavior they learned while they were little.
There are moms who insist that their child doesn't share with others because they simply don't have to. What belongs to them is theirs and they don't have to share with a stranger if they don't want to. Basically, if a child is done playing with or using a particular toy, they aren't obligated to share or give it to another child. This is quite shocking for those parents who go with the 'sharing is caring' rule, more like a culture shock. But, put yourself in the shoes of the kids that are forced to share. They may feel as though they have no choice but to give up their belongings, simply because a child asked for it. At that point, sharing is not caring and actually leaves them feeling uneasy.
17 France: No Gugu Gaga At The Table, Young Lady!
Has anyone ever decoded the meaning of 'Gugu Gaga'? If not, maybe it's time we got the real meaning of those words, which most, if not all, parents have heard their babies say, other than their first words. While baby talk may sound sweet, and parents always cherish the moment their little ones get to speak, it's not every day you get to understand what the baby says. Which is why baby talk is just that, for babies.
Moms in France have a hard time tolerating baby talk in their homes. In fact, it is the norm to speak to their babies in a normal voice and language, whether that is French or English. According to them, this encourages maturity in their little ones. In addition, it shows children respect - not sure how the baby figures that out, but I guess it works in France.
Journalist Pamela Druckerman wrote a bestseller, which has become more of a global parenting guide. While living in Paris, she noticed toddlers were so well-behaved. The kids listened to their parents, they sat up straight and were quiet while they dined at restaurants with their parents. She also noticed that they played happily with their siblings, as their moms chatted over a glass of French wine. Druckerman credits this behavior to the French parents' way of fostering independence through setting boundaries, and accountability in their kids. Well, that's new!
16 Argentina: Bedtime Shouldn't Be Longer Than Family Time
If you're one of those moms who rush home to get dinner started early, so that your kids can hit the hay early and get enough rest for the next day, then you'll be surprised to know that this isn't the norm all over the world. Not every parent has felt that feeling of being stressed and rushed and ending their evening with anxiety when her kids go to bed late than their expected routine. In Argentina, kids go to sleep late without the average 'be in bed by 8 pm' timeslot we have on our schedules for our kids.
Kids in Argentina not only sleep late, but they also accompany their parents to parties and social gatherings whether those end early or late.
As a result of being little social butterflies, children end up staying awake late but also have the opportunity to sleep in the next morning. Argentina moms say their children turn out just fine which, of course, shocks us all!
Another American journalist, Mei-Ling Hopgood also researched parenting styles across the world and found how other cultures handle food, sleep, and potty training - the big 3's of parenting toddlers. She discovered that not all moms tuck their wee ones in bed by 8 pm, but there's a group of parents that give their kids more time to unwind after nursery school when they go to bed around 10 pm. Surprisingly, these kids were equally as rested as their early-to-bed counterparts, but they had more joy as they felt more included when it came to family activities.
15 Japan: Greeting People Is An Important Aspect Of Life
Children need to learn that there are other people that exist on Earth, besides those he or she interacts with at home and at preschool. The best way to teach a child about the outside world, besides taking them out to social events and gatherings, is teaching them how to properly greet someone.
For moms in Japan and France, greeting people with a simple hello, or waving them goodbye, is a human expectation. They teach their kids how to greet others, the same way they teach the basics of the alphabet and their numbers.
In Japan, mothers have greeting exercises to make sure their kids learn how to greet others. It is a sign of acknowledgment and respect.A greeting sets the tone for the most social interactions. So, when a child is shy or introverted, he or she can gain more confidence by knowing how to approach others, compared to an extroverted child who needs to be given an appropriate structure of approaching or greeting people. The way in which a child presents him or herself speaks volumes about his/her mannerisms. Ultimately, this carries on into adulthood, which is why Japanese moms teach the art of a greeting at a very early age.
14 Finland: Homework Is Not A Big Deal
While millions of kids around the world are prepared to pass standardized tests and exams, children in Finland are prepared for life. Finnish moms don't place as much importance on homework and standardized tests as they do in preparing their child for the future. It's funny how kids will carry big bags, stacked with books from every single class they have. Teachers have bombarded children with the tasks of bringing school work home at the end of the day. In reality, when is the time for kids to do all their homework, study for tests, and still unwind down in preparation for the next day?
There have been many complaints by parents where they have expressed their children have fallen asleep as late as 11 pm, simply trying to complete their homework.
Sometimes, even dozing off on the dinner table, and they're expected to wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Well, that's where Finland gets it right, and the rest of the world is left in awe. Finnish school teachers do whatever it takes to turn around the lives of the young kids they teach. In fact, the size of their classrooms are so small, that one teacher can have a class of up to 7 students, for a more personalized touch and more time to shape each child based on where he or she is at in their education. There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, except for one exam the students of the senior year must complete in high school. There are also no rankings, competitions or comparisons between students or schools, or even regions. The kids are prepared to learn at their own pace, and not only because a test is around the corner.
13 Germany: No Toys Allowed Here
As we continue to digest the fact that Toys 'R' Us store has closed down, moms in Germany may be unfazed by this. In the German culture, toys are a hard no-no. The logic behind not giving kids toys stems from the fact that kids, who don't play with the inanimate objects, are able to cultivate critical thinking skills more than those who do play with toys. Eventually, this is made to help them refrain from vices such as addiction when they're older. Growing up, we believed kids are toys, and toys are kids, I mean, kids got toys for any and every reason under the sun. So, when you hear that there are kids who aren't allowed to play with toys, it's like they're from a completely different planet altogether.
If that wasn't enough, German kindergartens begin registration as early as the age of 3, and the classes have banned toys, board games and art supplies from their classes. This allows kids to invent their own games or figure out what to do on their own. All toys, pencils, paper, paints, and even building blocks are kept away from a child to allow him to think and to do some critical thinking. Teachers say the children in their classroom find new ways to master their time, during the day. The aim of the "no toy" rule is to raise self-confident children, who can handle conflict and frustration and can say yes or no while understanding their own strengths and weaknesses. Ready to ditch those toys?
12 Japan: Let Them Fight It Out
This tip won't sit well with many moms for sure. In fact, we're willing to bet your first response was 'What!' So, let's begin with the fact that Japanese moms, and parents generally, allow their kids to fight. Let's clarify this first: they don't fight with a whole fist or fight to cause harm or injury. But, they allow children to have their squabbles over a toy or a role in a game they're playing - the usual little conflicts.
According to them, this is good for kids as they get to experience conflict first-hand, and compromising before there is peace all on their own.
While it is good to guide them along that path, Japanese folks don't feel compelled to take over the entire situation and coming up with conclusions for them. Parents take a step back and let their children work out the issue and resolve it for themselves. Most moms can be tough-cookies when it comes to such conflicts because they tend to read that as 'misbehavior' and jump in at the first sign of trouble to defuse any impending issues and correct the cause before it can even blossom. But, Japanese moms let their kids duke it out. Similarly, in Germany, parents, and teachers don't intervene in every argument among the kids, but they trust the kids will work them out on their own, with the exception of arguments that can lead to an injury. Also, they don't punish or give children warning. Instead, they observe and talk to the children aside, individually, or turn this moment into a teaching moment for the whole classroom about fairness and kindness. However, it is not unheard of for Japanese parents or teachers to do nothing about it.
11 Denmark: Kids Play Outdoors, Regardless Of The Weather
Would you let your kids go out to play in the rain or snow? For most parents, this would be a huge and hard no. I mean, no one wants to deal with colds, the flu or even worse, pneumonia, and we know how quick kids can get sick which is. It's also heartbreaking to see your little one sick. Across the pond, moms in Denmark and Norway, ignore those changes and allow their children to play outside, regardless of the temperature. Although falling ill is a valid concern, parents in Denmark don't have as much pressure when allowing their children to be themselves and grow to be self-confident when interacting with others.
In fact, they believe allowing their children to play in different climates can be healthy. Denmark is known for its particularly cold weather, sometimes with temperatures as low as sub-zero. However, they allow their wee ones to play outdoors for up to an hour, every day. This isn't just for the toddlers or older kids, but also for the babies, who are left sleeping in their strollers outside - Yes, that is a thing! Apparently, Denmark is the second safest country in the world, so parents leave their kids and babies outside, even in the cold. This is due to the research that has been done that cold air helps children sleep easier and longer.
In the end, this is the culture in Scandinavian countries, and it is common, even in chilly weather, to find parents eating or shopping indoors, while their babies are in strollers out in the cold and other children playing. There's even a common saying among the Danes that "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." Where can I find myself some of those warm items of clothing?
10 Norway: Kids Taking Risks, What Could Go Wrong?
Different cultures have their own ways for parents to influence their child's risk-taking. In Norway, parents believe that kids should take risks like climbing trees, which they say keeps them safer. This risk helps a child take have the proper judgment in place. In addition, it helps a child understand how much a single body can do when engaging in possibly dangerous situations.
Norwegians have a fetish for outdoor pursuits, like the Danes, and they let their children roam outdoors, without watching them like hawks or restricting their freedom.
This is in comparison to Americans who worry about their child's playtime, with every movement they take. Norwegian educators also view risky play positively, while acknowledging the importance of play for the children's overall development. There's even a Norwegian Kindergarten Act which emphasizes children's opportunities for play, exploration, and other activities in a challenging but safe environment. Such risky play provides positive experiences for children, with potential rewards for intense exhilaration, arousal, excitement, and joy, because that's what play is all about. Similarly, kids thrive on lessons about risky play including life lessons that involves fear and thrills in games, like swinging or jumping from high places. This is how children approach the world around them, so let them take those risks!
9 Britain: Teach Them About Modesty
While American moms are busy taking mommy-and-me selfies with their little ones and posting them on social media, bragging about their kids' milestones, the Brits are busy teaching their kids modesty. In return, this is a habit when it comes to the parents' own behaviors and that of their kids. Raising kids the British way ranges from language to compliments, and even what they eat or drink. When it comes to raising an English daughter, for example, the English are taught vocabulary at a young age, how to speak properly and grammatically correct, and even the accent has to match.
Compliments are given and received differently by the English than from Americans, the latter who give and receive compliments easily. Compliments from the English aren't that simple, in fact, they deflect the compliment instead of appreciating it, putting themselves down, so to speak. Saying thank you is also perceived as conceited. When it comes to nurturing, the English also feed their kids typical English food such as mashed potatoes, fish, chips, sausages, and mushy peas. Other behaviors that they are taught are things like, they should not brag, and something they call 'negative politeness' which is simply giving people their space. In fact, it's okay to keep to yourself and feel relaxed at the same time, it's more of a way to encourage introverted behaviors, but for the sake of being polite.
8 India: A Family That Sleeps Together, Stays Together
For Indian parents, letting children sleep in their own rooms is weird. This is different than other countries where kids are quickly moved from the comfort of their parents' rooms long before they have turned 2 years old, which is meant to breed independence. However, Indian folks, who are used to family sleeping arrangements with their kids until the child is 6 years old. They also encourage co-sleeping with their kids as a way of snuggling with them and giving them gentle massages, as a soothing way to fall asleep. Indian mothers don't use strollers, as they carry their little ones against their bodies, and sleep with them on their beds, in a bid to facilitate a strong and close connection with their kids.
Indian parenting also manages children to have a stronger emotional connection and culture helps the child strengthen this bond.
Traditionally, a family will eat together and sleep in the same room. This can have something to do with their financial status, as there are those who cannot afford separate rooms for their kids. However, co-sleeping fosters teamwork, like when parents play with their babies, this helps with creativity. A child has no option, even if they wish, to sleep separately. This phenomenon helps the family develop strong bonding among their kids, and among the parents. During this time, parents and children will share stories and engage in true conversations. In the end, everlasting love and an emotional bond are developed.
7 Korea: No Snacking For Kids!
By now you're probably thinking of revisiting your parenting script because moms around the world are clearly doing the complete opposite of what you've known all these years. Well, they say there's no standard guide for parenting, but that doesn't mean you can wing it. There is a lot to learn from different cultures, and you get to use what works in your situation because kids and families are different.
Here's another shocker, Korean kids don't get to snack. There's a common thing parents have, like a food or eating schedule, where kids have three square meals in a day. Normally, in between each meal, children are busy snacking, whether it's on a bowl of fruit or Weetabix, or some nice, fresh pudding to get baby's appetite revved up for the next meal. In Korea, those are rumors - there's nothing like snacks for their kids. They have removed snacking from their daily lives as they believe it teaches the children the value of waiting for the next meal to eat - more like keeping the child hungry in anticipation for the next meal, which they'll eat with all their little hearts (and finish). They also don't have kids meals or menus. Whether it works or not, we're not sure, but it seems to be working for them because the kids aren't complaining.
6 Polynesia: The Older Child Raises The Baby
Does the thought of leaving your little baby with older, more active and hyper kids sound thrilling to you? Or does it scare the living lights out of you? Well, for Polynesian parents, this is perfectly normal. Once the little one is able to walk and/or stand on their own two feet, it's time for the older siblings to take over and raise the child. And Polynesian folks are very much ok with that. In fact, it is part of their culture. By the time a child is 2 years old, most parents are awaiting the proverbial 'terrible two' phase to check in.
When you pair the terrible two's with another hyperactive 10 years old child, it ends with the oldest child to learn how to raise a baby, which, ultimately, does not add up.
In Polynesia, as the kids play house, or enjoy the different activities they call play time, they're actually teaching the youngest one more effectively than you would after reading volumes of parenting books. These kids literally raise the baby, and the child can easily cope with things more than he would if you used Google or some bestselling parenting book. There's something about kids raising another kid that just works, but to each their own, right?
5 Vietnam: Potty Training Starts As Early As 6 Months
In Vietnam, moms potty train their babies how to use the loo by the time they're 9 months old, and this usually begins from the moment the babies are 6 months. In Vietnam, it is normal to potty train young as is to ensure the babies are fully potty trained from the age of 2. However, it seems the world is quickly shifting away from that idea. Things we've known to be the normal way of life that we've held onto dearly, even passing the same parenting techniques down from one generation to another, is starting to see a turn.
But, the thing is, Vietnamese parents (and Chinese parents too), teach their babies how to use the washroom, get this...at the sound of a whistle. I mean, who does that? And how? If you know the story of Pavlov and his dog, the one thing about conditioning that is widely taught in Psychology class, then you'll understand how this whistle and potty training go together. So, once parents notice the baby is going, they make a little whistle sound, and soon enough, the baby knows the whistle is associated with using the potty. By the time babies are 9 months old, they're already out of diapers, which is what most moms want for their kids, right? This not only saves the moms the hassle of having to change diapers, but also the cost of buying them. And who can forget about that inner peace of knowing your child can actually go potty on their own.
4 Sweden: Remove The Fences And Let Kids Play Freely
Swedish moms try not to be the controlling type. Instead, they teach their kids to control themselves in a respectable manner. This way, the child learns to make good decisions early on in life, while listening to their own inner voice. To this end, even the preschools in Sweden have no fences - yes, the yard is wide open, like a forest. Children in Swedish preschools learn in a great environment, with no fence in sight, but their teachers instruct them to use the 'invisible fence' which allows them to practice self-control.
The only boundaries children have around are trees, creeks or windbreaks, mostly nature objects.
Of course, teachers stick around to supervise, while giving them fruit for snacks - yes, they eat outdoors every day, regardless of the weather. The main goal here is for the kids to bond with their natural environment, so they can better under nature and are able to care for nature as they grow into adults. Kids who grow up in such environments, without fences, tend to have better motor skills, are fitter, more attentive, and have fewer sick days compared to their counterparts. Kids tend to be more imaginative, and their role-playing games are also more elaborate. Nature does have a therapeutic effect on everyone, for that matter.
3 Denmark: Speak Positive Words For Positive Thoughts
Denmark is not just the second safest country on the planet, but it also has one of the happiest populations in the world, if consistent studies are anything to go by. But, what exactly makes them have such great emotions and a positive outlook on life? Well, researchers say that it all boils down to the Danish culture and their parenting style. The Danes place heavy emphasis on family, authenticity, and empathy. Above all, as you read earlier, they aren't scared to allow their kids out to play, whether it is raining or snowing. And, who can forget that they leave their kids outside a restaurant while they, themselves, enjoy a nice meal in the restaurant?
Either way, Danish parents have a unique way of parenting that's different from most parents. Their parenting styles kind of waters down what we've known about parenting all these years. What makes them happy, though, is their positive thinking and encouraging words to their children. Instead of dealing with a situation the way it looks, say if a child is disappointed that the weekend is over and they were having a great time, the parents could spin that into a more positive thought like saying a new school week means another opportunity to learn new stuff and see their friends again. Just like that, a child's mood is back up and they're ready to face the new week.
2 Italy: No Tantrums Here
Italian parents have more tricks up their sleeves than just letting their child sleep less, and participate more in family activities - they don't entertain tantrums. Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that they discipline their kids with corporal punishment, when there's even the slightest sign of an impending tantrum. No. They just don't give it much attention, at all. So, while your little 2 or 3 years old is yelling in the supermarket because, maybe, you didn't pick a toy or a chocolate that they wanted, American moms would take them to a corner and give them 'the talk'.
Whereas, an Italian mom will allow the tantrum to play out and pass along from natural causes.
If a child of an Italian parent is seen to be yelling or acts out by way of a tantrum, his folks will simply let it go, by ignoring it and the child will eventually exhaust himself in the process. In the end, the child is learning that the tantrums do little or nothing to ensure they get their way. In the end, the parents always win this battle. This is a tactic that could be tried in many families, though a tantrum at the supermarket feels like something that should be dealt with immediately.
1 Australia: No Outdoor Playing Without A Hat
This tip brings to mind an ad by Dettol about the different types of moms. Here, you can clearly see the cautious mom who doesn't allow her child outside if he doesn't have a helmet on, knee pads, goggles, and even protective jackets, among an assortment of protective gear. Usually, you'll find kids very comfortable riding their bicycles even without their helmets or any other such gear.
However, in Australia, a hat is everything. Without a hat, there's no playing outdoors, let alone riding a bike. This comes as a result of the weather and climate changes, as well as the tender skin the kids have, so parents try to keep their children protected from the harmful rays of the sun, especially when it is extremely hot outside. Protective gear under the sun isn't just used at home, but is also a strict part of the school system, as it makes part of the school uniform. If you don't have a sun hat, then you cannot play outdoors. Hats are meant to prevent heat rash and stroke. While Australian kids are wearing hats, their counterparts in America and other parts of the world, are applying sunscreen at a young age, to prevent sun-related issues but can be rarely seen wearing a hat.