Our faith in humanity is automatically restored when we hear of people paying for the coffee of those next to them in line, or soldiers rescuing a kitten from a sandstorm. These little acts of kindness gives us the boost we often need, while for children, it doesn’t only show them that the world can still be a beautiful place--it can also help them learn to be more accepting, and in return, be more accepted.

A recent study featured on ScienceDaily.com says that small but sincere gestures can actually help children become happier in their school communities. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of California, Riverside worked with 400 students ages nine to 11 from different Vancouver schools. The students were asked which schoolmate they would like to work with during projects, and were initially required to submit a “happiness report.” Teachers then told half of them to perform random acts of kindness to their classmates or their parents, while half were asked to journal the nice places they’ve visited during four weeks of the study.

By the end of the given time frame, the students once again submitted their happiness reports, and were asked to pick which schoolmates they would like to work with for other activities. All students noted that they were happier than before, but interestingly, those who were asked to do kind gestures picked more students they would like to work with in school projects.

Professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, from the UBC's Faculty of Education, and co-author Kristin Layous from the University of California, Riverside both conclude that as kindness builds stronger classroom communities, it can therefore help children avoid bullying or being bullied. Teachers and parents can work hand-in-hand in teaching compassion in order to create a healthier school environment that promotes acceptance and respect.

(Photo by davidd via Flickr Creative Commons)

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