Kindness key to happiness and acceptance for children

December 26, 2012

Children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness are happier and experience greater acceptance from their peers, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside.

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, a professor in UBC's Faculty of Education, and co-author Kristin Layous, of the University of California, Riverside, say that increasing peer acceptance is key to preventing bullying.

In the study, published today by , 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 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 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.

"We show that kindness has some real benefits for the personal happiness of children but also for the classroom community," says Schonert-Reichl, also a researcher with the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC.

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 of bullying."

More information: Layous K, Nelson SK, Oberle E, Schonert-Reichl KA, Lyubomirsky S (2012) Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051380 dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051380

Related Stories

Study finds we choose money over happiness

September 19, 2011

Given the choice, would you take a good-paying job with reasonable demands on your time or a high-paying job with longer work hours, permitting only six hours of sleep? Many people opt for the cash, even when they know their ...

School climate can affect overweight children for life

April 24, 2012

Kids can be really mean – especially to other kids – and school-yard bullying can have serious immediate and long-term effects. One area of increasing concern in this regard is the possibility that overweight or ...

Giving makes young children happy, study suggests

June 19, 2012

If it is indeed nobler to give than to receive, it may also make you happier – even if you're a toddler, according to a new study co-authored by three psychologists at the University of British Columbia.

Recommended for you

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

How does color blindness affect color preferences?

July 21, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Dichromacy is a color vision defect in which one of the three types of cone photoreceptors is missing. The condition is hereditary and sex-linked, mostly affecting males. Although researchers have explored ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rkolter
5 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2012
"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."


This does not imply that:

"Children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness are happier and experience greater acceptance from their peers"


It implies that children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness are more accepting OF THEIR PEERS. An important result, but not the result described in the article.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.