Based on research by Layous, K., Nelson, S.K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K.A., & Lyubormirsky, Sonya (2012), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Do you know the benefits of encouraging prosocial behaviors (like sharing and helping others) in your children?
Psychology researchers led by Sonya Lyubomirsky conducted an experiment in 19 classrooms to examine the impact of preadolescents using prosocial behaviors. Over 400 students between ages 9 and 11 were randomly divided into two groups, those instructed to perform three acts of kindness each week, and those instructed to visit three places each week. Students reported their activities each week for the course of one month. Examples of locations visited included grandmas house, grocery store, and shopping center. Acts of kindness included sharing their lunch, helping mom bring in groceries, and giving their friend a hug when they were sad. Before and after the experiment students reported their life satisfaction, happiness, and mood. They also circled names of classmates with whom they would like to be in school activities. Results showed that students in both groups improved in overall well-being. However, those who performed kind acts experienced larger increases in peer acceptance and thus less bullying.
Being well liked by classmates benefits the youth and relates to important academic and social outcomes. Model kind acts and discuss being helpful, generous, and giving away kindnesses with youth.
Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2012). Kindness counts: Prompting prosocial behavior in preadolescents boosts peer acceptance and well-being. PloS one, 7(12), e51380.