Connecticut Families Extra: Can kindness be taught?

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — The rates of bullying, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression are growing among teens and even preteens.

Now, psychologists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, believe they have found something that can decrease this likelihood of some of these problems emerging.

Students learn math, science, and language at school and at home, but is kindness a skill that can be taught?

Richard Davidson, PhD, the Director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin said, “It’s fundamentally no different than learning how to play the violin or learning to do sports.”

Davidson developed the mindfulness-based kindness curriculum for preschoolers to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.

“Part of the curriculum involves being able to tune into sensations in the body and learn to identify them and respond to them in an appropriate way,” Davidson said.

One of the techniques he uses in class that parents can use with kids at home is belly breathing.

Davidson tested the curriculum on a group of preschoolers.

Davidson said they “found that kids who went through the kindness curriculum behaved more altruistically.”

He also found that the kids in the kindness curriculum had a better attention span, better grades, and showed a higher-level of social competence.

Emily Golliher, an elementary school Instructional Coach, uses the kindness curriculum in the classroom and says it’s vital for child development.

Golliher said, “If we can spend time and teach students how to be kind to themselves and kind to others that is just going to have a ripple effect across the school environment.”

To find out more and to download the free curriculum, visit the Center for Healthy Mind’s website.

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