Is Kindness the Key to Happiness and Acceptance for Children?

443 namaste boy

I’d like to thank everyone for reading my Celestial Musings Blog this year and want to wish you all a very happy New Years. It’s wonderful to be able to pause and reflect, or as I like to say ‘muse’ a bit on what goes on around us. And in that spirit, recently a headline caught my eye which proclaimed, “Kindness Key to Happiness and Acceptance for Children.”

I thought to myself, will wonders never cease; the findings from a study which the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside conducted actually found that children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness are happier and experience greater acceptance from their peers. I am always amazed at how research dollars are spent so often to prove the obvious, aren’t you? But their findings are helpful when recent events have shown us what can happen when ‘happiness and acceptance’ are not part of a young persons make up, Therefore the idea of a study demonstrating just how important kindness is, is significant in scientific circles and amongst those who wish to help bring about changes for the better in early childhood education.

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Education, and co-author Kristin Layous, of the University of California, Riverside, were reported to have said, that, “Increasing peer acceptance is key to preventing bullying.”

In the study, published December 26 by PLOS ONE, researchers examined how to boost happiness in students aged 9 to 11 years. Four hundred students from Vancouver elementary schools were asked to report on their happiness and to identify which of their classmates they would like to work with on school activities.

Half of the students were asked by their teachers to perform acts of kindness — like sharing their lunch or giving their mom a hug when she felt stressed — and half were asked to keep track of pleasant places they visited — like the playground or a grandparent’s house.

After four weeks, the students again reported on their happiness and identified classmates they would like to work with. While both groups said they were happier, kids that had performed acts of kindness selected higher numbers of classmates to work with on school activities.

One of the team, Schonert-Reichl, also a researcher with the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC was quoted as saying “We show that kindness has some real benefits for the personal happiness of children but also for the classroom community,” According to Schonert-Reichl, bullying tends to increase in Grades 4 and 5. By simply asking students to think about how they can act kindly to those around them, “teachers can create a sense of connectedness in the classroom and reduce the likelihood of bullying.”

In my interview for a new documentary film which my husband Nazim Aritst and I proudly serve as members of the production team, entitled, “Femme: Women Healing the World,” by Emmanuel Itier, (which will soon debut at the Cannes Film Festival), I had a little different idea to share with women in particular but also caregivers to mothers to be and those who have influence with babies and children under 12 years of age. See if  what I share in this YouTube video for Femme: Women Healing the World, resonates with your way of thinking

It seems to me that in the spirit of at long last letting women play a partnership role in the care and healing of the world that it’s also a great idea to just let our natural state of  love and kindness be our guiding light through the coming year and always. This way we can see for ourselves what the effects of happiness and kindness are not through a scientific study but through a  global consciousness, that shifts to one of love and kindness and results in acceptance for children of all ages!

Femme: Women Healing the World, a documentary film by Emmanuel Itier

Femme: Women Healing the World, a documentary film by Emmanuel Itier

Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin Layous, S. Katherine Nelson, Eva Oberle, Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Sonja Lyubomirsky. Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-BeingPLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51380 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051380

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