Some 400 Vancouver elementary schoolchildren were asked to report on their happiness after four weeks of participating in one of two scenarios, according to the study published Wednesday in the online publication PLOS ONE.
One group of the nine to 11-year-olds were asked by their teachers to perform acts of kindness, like sharing their lunch or giving their mom a hug if she appeared stressed.
The other group was asked to keep track of pleasant places they visited, like the playground or a grandparent's house.
While both groups reported a boost in happiness, the children who were kind said they wanted to work with a higher number of classmates on school activities.
Professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl says those findings mean it's likely teachers can create a sense of connectedness in the classroom simply by asking students to think about how they can act kindly to others, and that can reduce bullying.
"We show that kindness has some real benefits for the personal happiness of children, but also for the classroom community,” said Schonert-Reichl, a professor in U.B.C.’s faculty of education.
The research was conducted in partnership with the University of California, Riverside.
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