According to the United Nation’s World Happiness Report, Denmark is one of the happiest places on earth.  With that, it might seem obvious that the country has something to teach itself and the rest of the world. What would that something be? Empathy. Most people learn empathy when they are children — or they should have. It’s the key to kindness and altruism, both of which this world needs a little more of. Instead of just hoping their children will pick up this vital trait, Denmark guarantees the opportunity to learn it. Therefore, their schools teach empathy classes alongside more commonplace academic subjects.
Teaching Empathy Classes to Children
Many people attribute the high happiness rate in Denmark to empathy education, including Danish psychotherapist and educator Iben Sandahl, and American author and psychologist Jessica Alexander. In their book, The Danish Way of Parenting, they state that children in Denmark are taught empathy in and out of school, and this is very likely to contribute to the wellbeing of the country.
“Children in the Danish school system participate in a mandatory national program called Step by Step as early as preschool. The children are shown pictures of kids who are each exhibiting a different emotion: sadness, fear, anger, frustration, happiness, and so on,” Alexander said in an excerpt of the book on the Atlantic. 
She explains the program, which includes children discussing the pictures and putting into words the emotions they see. This helps them imagine feelings they see in themselves and others, as well as promotes problem-solving skills and self-control.
“An essential part of the program is that the facilitators and children aren’t judgmental of the emotions they see; instead, they simply recognize and respect those sentiments,” wrote Alexander.
More Programs in Denmark to Teach Children Emotional Intelligence
Another popular empathy program is CAT-kit, and it also helps improve emotional awareness. It focuses on how to empress feelings, experiences, thoughts, and senses through pictures of the body and facial expressions. 
“Another tool is called My Circle: Children draw their friends, family members, professionals, and strangers in different parts of the circle as part of an exercise on learning to better understand others,” explained Alexander.
“Denmark’s Mary Foundation has contributed to empathy training in schools, too. It’s an anti-bullying program, which has been implemented across the country, encourages 3- to 8-year-olds to talk about bullying and teasing, and learn to become more caring toward each other. It has yielded positive results, and more than 98 percent of teachers say they would recommend it to other institutions.”
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Teaching Empathy Outside of Class
Schools also incorporate more subtle empathy training by mixing children with different strengths and weaknesses together. For example, shy kids are paired with outgoing ones, and academically skilled are paired with those with less academic prowess. This helps show the children that everyone has different capabilities, and encourages them to support each other when they face their weaknesses.