Countries Where Children Are Most Satisfied With Their Lives

How does a society raise happy, confident, successful children? UNICEF has conducted comprehensive research where children are most satisfied with their lives. Factors analyzed include mental well-being, life satisfaction, body image, physical health, social skills, academic achievement, and more. It was determined that children in the Netherlands are the most satisfied with their lives. Why are Dutch children the happiest? Dutch parents tend to take a more easygoing, non-competitive approach that fosters responsibility and confidence. Children have more freedom to roam and play, which allows them to establish a stronger sense of self while building crucial skills that will serve them for life. A 2013 study from the European Journal of Developmental Psychology found that Dutch babies laugh, smile, and enjoy cuddling more than American babies. Psychologists believe that this is in part due to a more regulated sleep schedule and less intense activities. American parents are known to focus more on providing constant stimulation, exposing their children to a rich variety of new experiences. Dutch parents focus more on daily activities at home and value consistency and rest. The Dutch get more sleep than anyone in the world – an average of eight hours and 12 minutes nightly. Dutch children also spend more time with both parents, which is in part due to the Dutch government granting part-time employees equal rights as full-timers in 1996. This paved the way for a greater work-life balance, contributing to the overall happiness of the country, which in turn uplifts the children. There is also less pressure to excel in school – Dutch education focuses more on motivation and individualism over set achievements. Children are also encouraged to express their own opinions from an early age, which helps build confidence and develop communication skills. Family time is also important in the Netherlands. 85% of Dutch children surveyed by UNICEF reported that they eat breakfast with their families every day. Children are also encouraged to bike no matter the weather. Biking is the most efficient and practical way to travel in the Netherlands. All-weather biking builds grit and character. Cycling to school regardless of the weather conditions teaches kids resilience, which has been proven to be valuable to long-term happiness.

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