Encouraging Kindness in Children May Lead to Less Bullying

Encouraging Kindness in Children May Lead to Less Bullying

Can we reduce bullying simply by encouraging small acts of kindness? A new study suggests performing acts of kindness boosts happiness that helps counteract bullying.

How can we reduce bullying among children? Could it be as simple as encouraging small acts of kindness? A new study suggests that promoting simple acts of kindness can play a large role in developing personal happiness in children which may help to counteract bullying.

A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of California, Riverside (UCR) recruited 400 Vancouver elementary schoolchildren for their study. The nine to 11-year-olds were separated into two groups to engage in and then record one of the following over four weeks:

  1. perform acts of kindness, including sharing their lunch or giving their mom a hug if she appeared stressed or carrying the groceries

  2. keep track of pleasant places they visited, such as the playground, the mall, or a grandparent’s house

Doing good brings happiness

The researchers were building on studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of doing good deeds for others to build personal happiness.

Being liked encourages good behaviour

They also cited previous research that demonstrated well-liked preadolescents exhibit more inclusive behaviour and less externalizing behaviour (less bullying).

Kindness leads to happiness, popularity, hence less bullying

The UBC and UCR study demonstrated that children in the group that performed acts of kindness “not only improved well-being but also popularity.” Increasing peer acceptance, according to the researchers, “is related to a variety of important academic  and social outcomes, including reduced likelihood of being bullied.”

Study author and professor in UBC’s Faculty of Education, Kimberly Schonert-Reichl says “… it’s likely teachers can create a sense of connectedness in the classroom simply by asking students to think about how they can act kindly to others, and that can reduce bullying.”

Small acts of kindness

Wondering what you can suggest to your children to up their kindness quotient? Here are a few ideas:

  • Say hi to a younger child in school each day.
  • Pick up your classmate’s pen or pencil if it falls to the floor near you.
  • Help explain a difficult concept to a classmate who is having trouble.
  • Hold the door open for someone.
  • Help keep your classroom/school clean.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line.
  • Make someone laugh.
  • Share a snack.
  • Thank your bus driver (or your Mom!).
  • Ask if you can help with housework.
  • Pick up your toys—without being asked.
  • Clean up after yourself—without being asked.
  • Clean up your room—without being asked.
  • Round up toys or clothes you don’t need to donate to charity.
  • Complain less.
  • Give someone a hug.
  • Help a neighbour with snow clearing or taking out their garbage bins.
  • Say something nice to or about someone.
  • Share a toy or game.
  • Say thank you—and mean it.

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