Kinder Children Are Happier & More Popular Than Bullies

January 3, 2013

Science

CREDIT: School photo via Shutterstock

CREDIT: School photo via Shutterstock

New research indicates that children who are kinder are also happier and more popular. Simple acts of kindness could help reduce bullying in schools.

The scientists published their findings in the journal PLoS ONE¹. Happy people often do good for others, but being more prosocial increases people’s sense of well-being. Scientists carried out an experiment analyzing kindness in pre-teens. They followed 400 kids, aged between 9 and 12, attending elementary schools in Vancouver, Canada.

The students were assigned randomly into two groups. Half of them were asked to keep track of pleasant places they visited, like playgrounds, baseball diamonds, etc. The other students were asked to perform acts of kindness, like sharing their lunch, giving their mom a hug when she felt stressed, etc.

“We gave them examples of acts of kindness, but we left it up to the kids to decide what was a kind act,” said researcher Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, a developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The students were assigned randomly into two groups. Half of them were asked to keep track of pleasant places they visited, like playgrounds, baseball diamonds, etc. The other students were asked to perform acts of kindness, like sharing their lunch, giving their mom a hug when she felt stressed, etc.

The students who were asked to report on how happy they were and identify classmates they would like to work with in school activities. After four weeks, both groups were happier, but the kids who had performed the acts of kindness reported experiencing greater acceptance from their peers and were chosen most often by other students as children the other students wanted to work with.

According to the researchers, bullying often increases in grades 4 and 5. By asking students to briefly and regularly act kindly to those around them, it’s possible that the kids will get along better in the classroom and reduce instances of bullying.

References

  1. Layous K, et al., PLoS ONE 7 (12): e51380. (2012) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051380

[via LiveScience]

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