July 2022

Good Life at home and at play

In the first of a three-part series, we asked Denmark’s children what makes life good. Here’s what they told us about their friends and families

The LEGO Foundation

All you need is love (and friends)

We’ve been working with think tank, Tænketanken Mandag Morgen to ask Danish children one big question: what makes a good life?

In the first in our three-part series, we delved into what makes life good at home and with friends.

The number one thing Danish children want? A loving family

Good lives come in all shapes and sizes, but for the Danish children we spoke to, most have a few things in common. 75% of children we talked to from ages six to sixteen agreed that knowing their family loves them was the most important ingredient to a good home life.

As children grew up, they wanted parents in particular to show love in different ways. Younger children thought parents were there to look after them – whether that was cleaning a grazed knee or playing games to stop them getting bored. For older children, it was being listened to that mattered most.

Based on the research, here are three things we think parents can do to build an even better home life for their children:


1. Find ways to give children a say

The youngest children we spoke to all wanted more say on everyday things – like what they ate or what they did with their pocket money. That doesn’t mean you should hand over packets of sweets or let your child stay up all night. But are there small decisions – like whether to wear one jumper or another to the shops, that your child can make?

Older children like making decisions too – especially around where they go and what they do in their spare time.

"I think you could have a ‘children’s day’, where children decide what to have for supper."
OTTO, 7 years old

2. Be interested, but not too interested

When children – especially older ones – tell you things, they expect you to listen. But if they haven’t chosen to share, they probably won’t want an interrogation. If you’re asking older children lots of questions when they walk through the door after school, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the best response.

"It often makes you feel slightly stressed when they ask so many questions, so I just end up being a bit bad tempered or abrupt."
Salina, 14

3. Have fun!

Children who had fun with their families were happier with their lives in general. They told us they felt less lonely, and they were more optimistic when they thought about the future. They also got on better with their families than the children who said they didn’t have as much fun.

And it wasn’t just the littlest children who felt that way. Teenagers might like spending more time with their friends, but they can enjoy a bit of silliness now and again, too.

So, arrange that camping trip, make time for a monthly board game night or get the karaoke machine out at the next family birthday party. Your children (yes, even the teenagers) might want more fun than you think.

"Grown-ups can sometimes be childish too. Mostly our father. It’s almost as if he’s one of us sometimes. But it’s great fun. "
Lea, 15

And here’s a hack from us: make anything a plaything with these games and activities

Friends make free time fun

Families are important, but so are friends. Almost every child said having fun with friends made life good. (Of course, they didn’t always describe how they spent time together as ‘playing’. Older children told us they ‘hung out’ instead.) Here are two themes from our study:

1. Technology is ‘social glue’
2. Keep hobbies – especially sports – fun

Download our full report

Denmark’s often rated as one of the best places in the world for children to grow up. But how often do politicians and experts include children when they’re debating the issues that affect them? And how often do we call on children when we’re talking about play or designing new ways to make the world more playful? The answer is, not enough. To help us change that, we teamed up with Tænketanken Mandag Morgen to ask children what matters to them: how they feel about school, their families, and the future.

The Good Life - According to Children

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