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The Happiest Kids in the World A Stress-Free Approach to Parenting—the Dutch Way

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,040 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Why do:
· Dutch babies seem so content, and sleep so well?
· Dutch parents let their kids play outside on their own?
· The Dutch trust their children to bike to school?
· Dutch schools not set homework for the under-tens?
· Dutch teenagers not rebel?
· What is the secret of bringing up the happiest kids in the world?

In a recent UNICEF study of child well-being, Dutch children ca
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by The Experiment
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,040 ratings  ·  144 reviews


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Meghan Davis strader
Short of moving to the Netherlands, there wasn't much practical advice for those of us living in the US.
Jane Eyre
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's worth getting to know Dutch parenting methods, however not necessarily from this book. I found the narration where the author is constantly comparing US/UK to the Netherlands quite annoying. Im not from any of these countries but after a while it became so predictable that the US/UK methods are gonna be portrayed as hopeless while Duch pure perfection.

There was no critical examples of Duch methods what so ever. That made the book quite one-layered. Seemed to me that even when authors menti
...more
Christine Fitzgerald
I liked this book, it made me laugh out loud. As always, reading about parenting in other cultures is fascinating to me. However, other than move to Amsterdam, this book really did not have a lot of practical advice for life here in states.
Becky Diamond
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When American ex-pat Rina Acosta stumbled across a 2013 UNICEF report stating that the happiest kids in the world live in Holland, it spurred her to write a blog piece about her observations, which went viral. Teaming up with Michele Hutchinson (also an ex-pat from the UK), they explain how the Dutch culture is rooted in simplicity, with families choosing low-cost activities and a back-to-basics approach. In addition, they have observed that Dutch schools invest more energy in motivation than ac ...more
E. H. Nathasia
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
While Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman on French parenting wisdom was an eye-opener for me, the Dutch makes me take a step back.

I hesitate because of one thing, they can do it because of culture and the support of government and society.

It's a way of life for them. Therefore, it makes it easier to do what they do with their children. Their easy going approach on parenting can only be done in the kind of environment they live in the Netherlands.

To compare it with the US and UK, the vast diff
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Susan Bazzett-Griffith
This book was written by a couple of expat moms, one from US and one from UK, writing about Dutch parenting, and how the children in the Netherlnds tend to be happier, less stressed, healthier, and with lower levels of obesity, rebellion, depressioin, and so do their parents. While the authors seem to attribute a lot of these desirable outcomes to culture, and how free range parenting is a norm, how schedules and eating together are sacrosanct, what I wish there had been more of was an emphasis ...more
ElaKa
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book has few interesting points but not sure it all needed 300 pages of explanation (maybe because I live in the Netherlands and many things were not new to me). Also I missed some points of critique, the book presents the Dutch way in pink colors and relays mainly on some good examples from friends and family. Would be far more interesting to know also the darker side...For example we have many Dutch friends with divorced parents and the Netherlands is pretty high on the divorce rates lists ...more
Fliss Van Steenbergen
I was interested in reading this book, as I'm married to a Dutchman myself. Whilst there were some interesting points raised, the book was incredibly anecdotal and not particularly representative of Dutch parenting/culture en masse. There were some scientific studies included, but I got the feeling they had been chosen to back up the authors' opinions, resulting in a skewed perspective. Perhaps the writers simply needed to convince themselves they'd done the right thing by bringing up their fami ...more
Charlotte
This was interesting, but I didn't love it. I agree with some of the things they do and disagreed with some too. But it's always interesting to see life through someone elses eyes.
Liralen
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed, 2020
I have a habit of reading books that are interesting to me on a geographic but not content level—so in this case, I'm not particularly interested in parenting, but this has a Netherlands context and is soooort of like Netherlands-based travel writing. It's a weird habit. I know it's a weird habit. And yet I persist, and here we are.

The book raises some interesting points, but ultimately it felt anecdote driven rather than data driven, to say nothing of the pro-Dutch bias here. The authors note a
...more
Jill Crosby
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
A book about parenting by two ex-pat moms married to Dutch men, living in Holland while raising their children.
Pros: commons sense advice about allowing kids to grow up with some independence and no pressure. No organized traveling team sports, no lessons every school night, no pressure to read early—the basics.

Where it Fails:Does not mention Dutch children who are part of blended families or who live split custodies; minority kids (there is a comment about one of the women having to move to Nor
...more
Abby Klauck
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of the first of many parenting books I assume I'll be reading as my husband and I embark on our child-rearing journey. I knew I was going to enjoy The Happiest Kids in the World because I'd read a couple of Rina's blog posts in the past, and this book mostly solidified my thought that, if it were easier, moving to The Netherlands seems like the best way to go. Given that is unlikely, and that The Netherlands sounds too cold and wet for my tastes, we'll have to settle for adapting Dut ...more
Theunis Snyman
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of my childhood. There was no pressure from my parents to perform. In primary school there was really not much in the way of homework. We played after school, or read books. I could walk the streets to the library, the butcher and the grocer. My friend and I wandered through the woods nearby. And we even walked to primary school. We went to High school by bus. We talked to each other during dinner and then listened to the news and the radio soap at twenty past seven. It was ...more
Margaret
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction, aoc
Meh. Maybe this would've made more of an impression if I'd read it before The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life (which contains a parenting chapter), but maybe not. It lacked the research I like in parenting books, and while it was anecdotal, it lacked the meaningful connections I look for in memoir parenting books. Parts came across as condescending, and while the authors constantly compare Dutch parents to British and the United States parents, never do they address the m ...more
AJ Payne
I enjoy reading about how people parent around the world, so this fit in well with that theme. I also like some of the practices of European parents, so this was interesting to learn more about the Dutch specific things.

Overall this, along with lots of ‘other countries do it better!’ books, had a lot to say on how terrible parenting in the US (and in this case Britain) is and it’s so much better in the Netherlands. And probably in some ways it is, especially with the helicopter parenting thing a
...more
Allysia K
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't get enough of cultural parenting books! I enjoyed this one both for the content, and also because my husband and his family are Dutch. It's also an interesting read back-to-back with the French-focused Bringing Up Bebe, since they basically have opposite philosophies.
Jim Landers
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A nice book. As an American who has spent the past five years in the Netherlands, it feels like a pretty good outsider's summary of cultural differences with respect to parenting but also life here in general. I'd certainly recommend it for any expat parent living here.

Given that my partner is an educator with a strong interest in research and a practical approach, I think we would have parented in a more-Dutch-less-American way regardless of living here. I needed through the chairs on the youn
...more
Michael Wear
Honestly, could not finish this one. Did not enjoy it at all.
Sarah
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I should have been born in the Netherlands! 🇳🇱 I loved the ideas behind their bicycling culture, schooling philosophy for children, and national emphasis on family connection.
Jackie Bonath
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Raising kids to be happy, what more could you possibly want?
Ancuta
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Great ideas, not so great presentation
Kristin
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Initially I was unimpressed and suspected this book of being an unoriginal knockoff of Bringing up Bebe, only with the Netherlands subbed in for France as the paragon of perfect parenting. And if you are reading it as a parenting manual, it will be largely useless since most of the insights cannot be transplanted from outside of the Dutch context (ie. the pervasiveness of getting around on a bicycle, or the way children are evaluated in the education system).

However, if you just want to learn mo
...more
Carolyn
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Dutch education and parenting system seems wonderful. While I was listening to the audio book, I kept stopping intermittently and texting my husband fervently, “We should move to the Netherlands, for the sake of the baby!” We most likely will never move to the Netherlands, too cold and acquiring citizenship is very difficult, but the book did bring up a lot of interesting points. Letting children solve issues between themselves without intervening to let them solve their own problems. If a c ...more
Alicia Harding
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Good Enough” :)

I called this review “good enough” because one of my favorite takeaways was the idea of good enough parenting. This book was the cure for what my own neurotic, anxious, guilt ridden, sparenting in the US. The Dutch talk about “good enough” parenting and living. There isn’t s drive for perfection like there often is here.

One of the criticism I keep seeing about this book is that it constantly compares Dutch parenting to that in the UK and US, but I felt the writers were upfront ab
...more
Ben Snowden
Dec 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's bad news when a book's contents can be replaced with one sentence: "The Dutch parenting technique is perfect."

Basically, the book's premise is, "move your family to where it's perfect, and your family will be perfect, and did we mention how perfect it is here?"

Don't get me wrong, it's interesting to see how another culture works. However, the syrupy sweet depiction plays out like a Hallmark movie called "My Heart Is In Holland."

You won't find much nuance in these pages. What you will find
...more
Heather
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: child-rearing
Like Bringing Up Bébé and other books of its ilk, The Happiest Kids in the World is a fun and fascinating read if you are interested in gaining some perspective on parenting practices in a different culture. If you picked it up as a how-to guide on making your own offspring’s childhood happier than the neighbor’s, it will probably disappoint.

This book is sensibly arranged from birth up through teenage years, and I personally appreciated the approach the co-authors took of clearly distinguishing
...more
Nate B
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't see why people say that this book only provides practical advice if one lives in the Netherlands. To the contrary, I found that this book presents a fundamentally different possibility for how we raise our kids, contrasts to the "default" attitudes and behavior I grew up with in the United States.

In short,

the US way: raise your kids to be "successful" and be 100% involved and absorbed as a parent in your kids' lives.

the Dutch way: raise your kids to be *happy* and help them find independ
...more
Heather
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This is an extension of an American ex-pat's blog about parenting in Holland. She has preschool age kids. The other author has older children and is a British ex-pat. Both are married to dutch men. If you're looking for lots of case studies, this is probably not your book. There was some insight though. Mostly that having low stress due to better work-life balance and less competitiveness (both as parents and as general members of society) creates more relaxed parents (vs helicopter parenting). ...more
Carrie Ann
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book I thoroughly enjoyed, especially since I'm third generation Dutch American and many of the observations of Dutch people rang true with me and my family. Unfortunately, it also made me a little depressed because I read it while pregnant, and living in southern California makes it impossible to replicate much of what is so good about raising children in the Netherlands. But overall, it was excellent food for thought, and I think got me started down some good paths of preparing myself for ra ...more
Kathleen
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great read and really insightful. Some reviewers commented that this advice wasn't practical for the states and I agree but only to a point. Sure, as an Alaskan I won't' be biking to and from work along to road in deep snow 16 miles and I'm not sure I feel that Alaska is as safe as The Netherlands with regards to kids just playing out in public alone, but a lot of what Acosta discusses can be applied to everyday life. The Dutch have a really laid back approach to parenting that focuse ...more
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