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In Episode 78, I’m chatting with Jessica Joelle Alexander, author of The Danish Way of Parenting. We talk about how the Danes raise happy kids who become happy adults.

Big Ideas

  • Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.
  • Danish people are happy because of the way they’re raising their children.
  • Happy children become happy adults.
  • Free play is really important for children.
  • The Danish way is simple and common sense.
  • It’s really important for students to have a feeling of belonging and connectedness.


Jessica: “I have always actually been living in different countries and interested in cultural differences and studying cultural differences. My background is psychology.”

Jessica: “When my kids were born I became really fascinated by Danish children.”

Jessica: “I was reading the newspaper and I saw that Denmark had been voted as one of the happiest countries in the world- again. And that it had been for forty years in a row always in the top three.”

Jessica: “I had this lightbulb go off in my head and I thought “Oh my God! They’re happy because of the way they’re raising their children.”

Jessica: “I had to write this book because this style of parenting had helped me so much.”

Audrey: “It’s not just about the parenting. It’s the lifestyle and the way they choose to spend their time and live their life that is getting these really positive outcomes.”

Jessica: “The biggest beneficiaries of this time together are the kids and you really see how much they love being with their families and there’s no drama and there’s no negativity.”

Audrey: “We have to work a little harder and think a little more about doing the things that we all need for our wellbeing. This connection piece.”

Jessica: “Play, free play has been an educational theory in Denmark since 1871. And for them, it’s the most important thing a child can do. It’s considered learning. It’s nothing about can they read, can they write, can they do these things early? Because they know they will learn those things.”

Jessica: “Just these simple things–like playing, being outside, or simplifying–is really what we need.”

Jessica: “One of the hardest things is how to shut out all that pressure and believe in the simplicity.”

Audrey: “In the end, what is more important is being a happy person with good relationships? And that leads to success.”

Jessica: “Self-esteem is how you feel about who you are.”

Jessica: “You can do anything if you believe in yourself.”

Jessica: “The book is very much education. It’s focusing more on schools, but it’s also at home. A bit like talking about what you can take home from camp.”

Audrey: “Let’s get the whole world to be the Danish/summer camp way!”


Audrey’s book, Happy Campers: Nine Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults comes out on May 7th and is available for pre-order now. Visit to find links to all your favorite book retailers where you can pre-order your copy.

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Books mentioned

The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander

The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

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