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How Kindness and Compassion Counteract Bullying
During this time of Covid-19 and self-isolation many families have had to change their whole routine. They have been “forced” to spend much more time together. This has had a positive side when it comes to spending that time playing, working, and eating together. But it may have also shown a selfish side of your child that you did not know existed. What do you do when you realize your child has become “that child”? Both home and school are important places to teach, model, and nurture kindness, compassion, and the positive experience of doing good deeds.
Popular terms such as “pay it forward” and “random acts of kindness” are familiar to most everyone. The feel-good emotions that come from unselfish acts offer physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. But without kindness and compassion, a harsh defense mechanism develops that may create bullying and overbearing, out-of-control behavior.
Both kindness and compassion contribute to our well-being and extend into every aspect of our lives. Children understand this from an early age, responding to the security and self-confidence they develop.
Experts tell us that kindness is best learned and developed by experiencing it, not just talking about it. Scientifically, the happy feelings that we have when being kind are produced by endorphins. Areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust are activated. As they grow, children need healthy doses of the “warm fuzzies” to thrive and be well-rounded individuals.
When these feelings of joyfulness are experienced, they encourage more kind behavior by both the giver and the recipient. And science has shown us that serotonin levels increase when kind acts are performed. This important chemical affects learning, memory, mood, sleep, health, and digestion. Children with a positive outlook have greater attention spans, more willingness to learn, and better creative thinking to improve results at school.
Adolescents experience greater popularity and acceptance among their peers when they are kind. Positivity is heightened in more inclusive environments where there is less stress and increased kindness.
How Parents Can Tune in To Innate and Learned Behavior
Parents naturally want to believe that their child is innately kind, but there is also the fact that young children are naturally self-centered. The ability to see things from another person’s view develops over time and experience, and while kindness is a natural tendency, it is also a skill to developed and practiced. That is where parents, teachers and caregivers can play a big role, by encouraging kindness in young children, helping them to experience a sense of pride, well-being, and belonging when doing a kind deed.
Lack of kindness and compassion sets the stage for bullying and overbearing behavior. Sadly, many schools respond to negative behaviors with punishment or “zero-tolerance”. Years of research have proven these punishment-based approaches do not usually work. What has proven more successful is to focus on teaching and modeling pro-social behavior.
Where Kindness Flourishes
At Yorktown Education creating a warm and inclusive environment is deeply rooted in our methodology. Some of the ways we encourage kindness, compassion, and positivity are:
- Gratitude activities
- Volunteer activities or service learning
- Let students develop activities to help others
- Facilitate respectful conversations
- Generate open-ended discussion questions
- Encourage working together
- Teach and model naming and expressing emotions
If you and your child are looking for a school that’s safe from bullying and secure in a positive, kind, uplifting learning environment, visit with us at Yorktown Education. Contact us for a virtual or in-person tour. Make the difference in your child’s education and well-being.