What Can We Learn From The World’s Largest Study On Kindness?

Within our framework of providing values-based, respectful relationship education, we love promoting the idea of being kind. Kind in person, kind online, kind to the people we know, and kind to people we don’t know.

I read a really interesting article recently about one of the largest studies that’s ever been done on kindness. The study was led by a team from the University of Sussex, and it had some really interesting insights. Here are the ten findings of the study.

Which one stands out the most for you?

1) Kind acts are very common

2) The most common kind act is to help people when they ask

3) Two thirds of the participants in the study think the pandemic has made us kinder

4) There’s a link between kindness and well-being

5) Extroverts give and receive more kindness

6) People see more acts of kindness at home than anywhere else

7) Women carry out slightly more kind acts on average and so do people who are religious

8) We worry about our offers of kindness being misinterpreted

9) People who talk to strangers see and receive more kindness

10) Income makes little difference to how kind people are

I really appreciated the finding between kindness and wellbeing. With so many schools and teachers focusing on wellbeing, I’m encouraged that kindness can be central to young people’s wellbeing.

Inspired by this study, I wanted to offer a simple “tip of the week,” that all of us – teachers, educators and parents – can outwork (myself included), to help us spread kindness:

Encourage more than you criticise.

Research cited in the Harvard Business Review found that people need an encouragement-to-criticism ratio of around 5:1 in order to feel affirmed and appreciated in a relationship. Whether it be in the home, the classroom or the office, balancing our encouragement-to-criticism ratio in this way helps our relationships stay healthy and positive

While to some this may seem contrived, I think it can be a really helpful tool to keep in mind as we navigate relationships with young people. It’s so easy to be constantly pulling people up on what they’re doing wrong, instead of looking for an opportunity to pat them on the back for what they’re doing right.

Encouraging more than we criticise is a really simple strategy that we can all employ to outwork kindness.

Kindness breeds kindness. It’s infectious to those around us. Acts of kindness may seem small, but they are certainly not insignificant. If we want to create a kinder world, it starts with kind schools, kind homes and kind students.

As parents, teachers and educators, we can all play a big part in this.

What’s something that you can do to help create a culture of kindness in your school, your classroom or your home today?

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