Dr. Marilyn Heins offers a free newsletter for parents. The parenting newsletter is free, delivered via email and always includes tips for new parents , interesting stories, and/or studies regarding children. According to her most recent writings, the doctor strongly believes that a curriculum for teaching kindness and proper social behavior is the best way to abolish anti-social, negative behavior. As a parent of two grown boys, I happen to agree 100% with this idea. Schools reinforcing what is taught at home strengthens the value of the teachings; kids hear these expectations from more than mom and dad.
The newsletter reads, “Who are the popular kids? Not the ones with the trendy clothes or newest gadgets. The KIND ones! An interesting study out of the University of California, Riverside divided 400 school children ages between 8 and 9 into two groups. One group’s assignment was to do three acts of kindness a week. Acts included helping with housework at home, hugging their mom when she was upset, sharing their lunch. The control group was asked to keep a list of three places they visited each week.
Before the study commenced each student was asked to circle names of those they would like to be with in school activities. After both groups reported on what they did, all children were asked again to name those they wanted to be with. Both groups went up in popularity but the kind acts group received significantly more “nominations.”
What makes a kind person? Some people seem to have a higher level of empathy and sensitivity to others that is probably at least partly innate. We learn kindness from our parents who both model kind behavior and tell us to be kind. We also learn kindness from peers, from books, from hearing about what nice people do for others.
Should there be a “curriculum” for kindness at school? Of course. Not just Teacher saying, “Be nice.” But also specific exercises requiring cooperation and kindness. And dividing children into small groups to brainstorm acts of kindness the school children can do for the community.
Teaching pro-social behavior is the best antidote to anti-social behavior.”
What do you think about a “kind kids” curriculum? Helpful or Hooey?
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