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Kindness promotes happiness, peer acceptance among kids: study


13:47, December 28, 2012


SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Children who perform kind acts are not only happier, but also more popular among their peers, a study indicated.

In the study published Wednesday by the U.S. science journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of California, Riverside, demonstrated how to boost happiness in 400 students aged 9 to 11.

Every week, half of the students were instructed to perform acts of kindness, like sharing their lunch or giving their mom a hug when she felt stressed. The other half were asked to visit three pleasant places, such as shopping centers or playgrounds.

After four weeks, students in both conditions were found improved in well-being, but students who performed kind acts experienced significantly bigger increase in peer acceptance than those who visited places.

Increasing peer acceptance is a critical goal, as it is related to a variety of important academic and social outcomes, including reduced likelihood of being bullied, according to the researchers.

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

Bullying tends to increase in Grades 4 and 5, said Schonert-Reichl. 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."

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