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Arkansas State University

Teaching Kindness to Prevent Bullying

Historically, schools have focused primarily on students’ academic achievements. But today, child psychologists and educators also understand the importance of a child’s social-emotional growth. Teaching kindness is one way that educators can practice positive psychology in the classroom. By teaching kindness, schools are choosing to invest in the development of positive qualities–such as compassion, respect and empathy–within each child.

Candidates pursuing an online Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree will have the opportunity to study the role of positive psychology in a classroom environment, as well as the value of supporting a child’s social-emotional health. Additionally, candidates will consider how teaching kindness can have a real and lasting impact on students and on the world around them.

Kindness Perpetuates Kindness

When children learn to be kind, it becomes their behavioral default. Kindness perpetuates kindness, which means that if an older child is kind to a younger child, the younger child is more likely to be kind to others as well. In effect, kindness is contagious, and teaching kindness within the classroom may have a positive ripple effect that influences a child’s home life, sports teams, extended family and so on.

Contributing to Academic Success

Positive psychology contributes to greater academic success among students. This is because students feel more relaxed at school and are better able to focus on their schoolwork. When a school insists on a core of kindness, much of the disruptive conflict and harmful social pressures students experience disappears. Thus, students are better able to process and retain new information, and they are more successful in their academic pursuits.

Reducing Bullying

Teachers who utilize positive psychology often foster greater cohesion among their students. In classrooms that actively teach kindness, there are often fewer incidents of bullying. This is because each student feels safe and valued as a member of the school community. When a classroom environment is free of bullying dynamics, children feel valued by their peers, experience higher self-esteem, and work much more collaboratively.

Setting the Stage for Positive Values

When kindness is the behavioral norm within a school or classroom, an important value system develops that children observe on a daily basis. It is often not enough to speak about kindness–children must also observe others being kind, and they must have regular opportunities to practice kindness themselves. A classroom based on kindness sets the stage for the discussion and implementation of other important values.

Kindness Is a Natural Antidepressant

It is no secret that depression rates in young people are soaring. As a society, we place many expectations on our children and teenagers. These expectations can feel overwhelming, and they can contribute to stress and depression. When a person performs an act of kindness, the brain releases serotonin, which creates positive feelings in both the sender and receiver. Therefore, being kind has the positive consequence of making both people feel happier.

In an online master’s degree in education program, candidates will have the unique opportunity to study theories of positive psychology, discuss the benefits of teaching kindness in schools and practice those teaching methods in a classroom environment.

Educational research demonstrates that the very simple act of teaching kindness in schools contributes to happier, healthier, better-adjusted children. Additionally, it likely has far-reaching societal effects beyond the classroom. As a teacher invested in creating positive change in the world, teaching kindness is one fundamental way for you to build a nonviolent, healthy and emotionally secure community.

Learn more about the A-State MSE in Curriculum & Instruction online program.


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