The 164-year-old Swedish secret to raising happy and resilient kids - it's just 3 steps, and we're converted

Parenting expert and mum shares her fool-proof method for raising well-balanced kids

smiling boy on play equipment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's a 164-year Swedish secret to raising happy and resilient kids in just 3 steps and Kate Middleton appears to be already putting some of it into practice.

No matter what you do as a parent, there's always the mum guilt and worry whether your child's development stages are being met. And as many parents rush to secure the Top Christmas toys in the run-up to the festive season there's a little-known secret that can save you from splashing out on the best educational toys for your child. And it promises to give them a happy and resilient childhood.

Parenting expert and mum-of-two Linda Akeson McGurk has grown up in the Scandinavian country and experienced the upbringing herself and she's passed on the "Friluftsliv' life - a Scandinavian word which means 'open-air' life - to her kids.

Kate Middleton has previously spoken of the importance of the great outdoors in the early years, she once admitted when she unveiled her Back to Nature garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019, "'I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults."

And her children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, have often been pictured enjoying the outdoors in the many family portraits she's released over the years.

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with the scouts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Author Linda has shared her many parenting techniques in her books including The Open-Air Life and There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather and in her column for CNBC, she said, "When my kids were young, I would let them climb rocks and trees, investigate slimy critters, dig holes and play without adult intervention, just like I did."

And even during a spell of living in the US, she kept her parenting method - including letting her kids 'nap on the back porch most days in all seasons' or 'playing outside barefoot' even if it did provoke 'strange looks' from others.

She prides the ancient parenting method on instilling happiness in Nordic countries as we look at what it entails...

3 Swedish steps to raising happy and resilient kids

  1. Schedule outdoor time - "If you’re pressed for time, try combining outdoor time with an already established habit. For example, walk your child to daycare or preschool instead of taking the car, or eat a picnic dinner at a park instead of at home." These are just some ways Linda suggests will help you develop a 'sustainable nature habit' that will eventually become the norm. In Nordic countries, there are outdoor Kindergartens or forest schools and families often socialise outside, enjoying outdoor grilling or morning and evening walks.

mother walking child to school

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  1. Start with where you are - "If you have the opportunity to take your children hiking in the remote wilderness or a national park, that’s wonderful — but the connections that you and your children make with nature on a day-to-day basis will have a greater impact on them." Linda says she tends to enjoy Friluftsliv with her kids by walking around the woods near her home in Sweden. The key is to focus on the nature around you.

boy holding sticks in the woods

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  1. Don't let the weather ruin your day - "Friluftsliv tradition encourages us to find something you love about every season" says Linda and she shared the old saying that's worth remembering next time you plan to stay in or struggle to find things to do with the kids on a rainy day. “'There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing'. It motivates children to go outside every day, regardless of the weather." 

child playing in the rain with rainbow umbrella

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In other parenting news, Tiger parenting: what are tiger parents and am I one? Or you might find these Norland Nanny parenting tips useful and fantastic facts for kids that will keep them entertained.

Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is currently a Senior Entertainment Writer for, formerly Senior Entertainment writer for Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life and has more than 16 years of experience in newspapers, magazines and online. She currently writes a mix of Entertainment news - including celebrity births, weddings and reality show line-ups including Strictly, Dancing On Ice and The Great British Bake Off, reporting the the latest news about the Royal kids Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet as well as Family news stories from baby names to store closures and product recall warnings. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.