Random Acts of Kindness
Health Article by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
January 29, 2013
Many of us have made New Year’s resolutions in the past few weeks, and most of them probably relate to personal habits, health, career goals, or financial milestones. While all of these are worthwhile efforts, there’s another kind of behavior change that might be worth pursuing this year.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that children who performed random acts of kindness experienced increased positive emotions and life satisfaction. In other words, helping other people made kids feel better about themselves and their own lives. But it also made them more popular. In the study, kids that made an effort to be kind to others experienced increased acceptance of peers, and were better liked by others. These things are important to social and academic success. Increased acceptance and better relationships with peers decrease the chances that bullying will occur.
There are plenty of ways that parents can encourage their kids to be kind to others. It could be something as simple as helping with the dishes in the evening or sharing toys or activities with a younger sibling. Encourage your kids to compliment one person each day, or help them write thank you notes for gifts they’ve received. Remind your kids to watch for opportunities to be kind to neighbors, family, and friends. The next time it snows, think about neighbors who might appreciate some help shoveling.
The entire family might want to take part in the kind acts by taking a meal to a home-bound neighbor or relative, volunteering at a local charity, or donating clothes or toys to those who need them. For a fun family volunteering opportunity later this spring, visit www.independenceparktrot.com, and scroll to the bottom of the page.
You may find that while you are helping others, you are the one who truly benefits from these kind acts. Performing acts of kindness improves our sense of being connected to the community around us. Being kind to others can also improve our satisfaction with life and our self-esteem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these factors promote a general sense of well-being that is important to good physical and mental health.
For more information on the kindness study, search for “Random Acts of Kindness” at www.npr.org. To learn more about well-being and how it is related to your health, visit www.cdc.gov/hrqol/wellbeing.htm.
It’s still early in the New Year, encourage your kids to choose kindness in 2013, and then follow their lead!