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Parenting Around the World

January 14, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

Parenting Around the World | Three children smile for the camera in front of fields in Vietnam.

As a parent, have you ever done something and later thought, I wonder if other parents do this? If so, you are certainly not alone. I am an avid Google user, especially now that I’m a parent (who isn’t, right?). I’m constantly searching for insights, opinions, myths, experiences, etc. regarding parenting. When I struggled with getting my 19-month-old son to sleep in his crib, I searched everything from bedtime routines to letting the baby cry it out. He would hyperventilate so badly—to the point of throwing up—until I picked him up.

After three weeks, I decided to end the torture for the both of us. But it got me thinking, why is co-sleeping frowned upon in America? Can it really be that bad for the child? I searched the affects it had on children into adulthood and found that some countries recommend co-sleeping. For example, Swedish parents believe that children should have access to their parents’ bodies for comfort and should be allowed to sleep in their parents’ beds. It is similar in India, as children sleep with their parents until they are six or seven years old.

I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t the only mother in the world who co-slept, and took my research further to see how other countries around the world parent differently from us in the U.S.

Potty Training
I was impressed by this one. Vietnamese parents have their children potty trained by nine months! In America, three years old is average. Their secret? They use the sound of a whistle. When the parents recognize that their child is urinating, they make a whistling sound so the baby can associate the whistle with peeing. Can you imagine being diaper-free before the age of one? Please hold while I daydream for a moment of a potty-trained baby.

Japanese parents encourage independence by letting their children venture around the neighborhood, and some even take public transportation by themselves. It is common to let children as young as four years old run errands for their parents and take the trains or buses while doing so.

In France, children aren’t given special baby foods. Rather, they eat just as adults do. There is also no snacking, as mealtimes are enforced.

Spanish families let their children stay up late in order to foster their social skills and engage with family throughout the evening. If there’s a family party, the kiddies are staying up with the adults!

Norwegians believe in daycare or barnehage (children’s garden) as early as one year old. Why? Because they strongly believe that fresh air is good for the children and it encourages parents to go back to work.

What do you think about these parenting styles? Are you inspired to bring a few of these into your household? Tell me in the comments below. And next month, I will talk about American parenting styles that impress other countries.


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