Why Kindness Is Needed In Our Schools And Workplaces

Nov 08, 2017

“Kindness is Contagious. When we’re kind, we inspire others to be kind, and it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends — to three degrees of separation.” David R. Hamilton, Ph.D.

It’s a proven fact: Most environments can benefit from leadership that cares and empowers others to do so as well. My work as a kindness advocate via #spreadthekindness includes encouraging pro-social behavior in both the children’s playground as well as the adult ones.

Why Kindness Matters in Schools?

It can be an overwhelming environment: crowded hallways, stern faces, loud lunchrooms and occasional aggressive behavior. Our children leave their usually secure home and venture into a world where each child has a different personality. Can they all be expected to get along? Hardly. What can help with the transition at any age: A simple dose of kindness.

How important is kindness to young children? Numerous scientific studies show that acts of kindness result in significant health benefits, both physical and mental for the doer and the receiver! Kindness makes us happier, gives us healthier hearts, strengthens the immune system, makes for better and stronger relationships and, as mentioned above, kindness is certainly contagious. Promoting it creates a better classroom, and, in turn, a warmer school environment.

Yes, educational facilities that implement a strong emphasis on character education can make all the difference in a child’s experience outside the home. Many reasons can be listed and one main one is feeling safe, secure and cared for in their environment. And, yes, kids even work harder as academic performance improves too.

In a well-known Vancouver study from Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, it was shown that children who performed three acts of kindness a week for four weeks experienced an increase in peer acceptance afterwards. Pro-social behavior also increases well being and the tone of a classroom can be improved. The study states: "Increasing peer acceptance is a critical finding, as it is related to a variety of academic and social outcomes including reduced likelihood of being bullied." It goes on further to suggest that "teachers and interventionists can build on this study by introducing intentional pro-social activities into classrooms and recommending that such activities be performed regularly and purposefully."

And, when the curriculum includes an emphasis on kind actions it has the ripple effect of a warmer school environment that emphasizes EQ not just IQ.

Why Kindness Matters in the Workplace?

Can today's businesses learn from a warmer environment in the workplace? You bet your bottom dollar they can!

As a passionate Kindness Advocate, I work with corporations to #spreadthekindness by creating tailored plans emphasizing kind act activities often geared to the International RAKWeek. As leader Julia Rivard, Partner, Norex.ca, shared after her company’s involvement: “…the RAK week really helped us all place an emphasis on what we could do to ‘make the day’ of the people around us just a little bit better….The acts of kindness seemed to snowball leading to a week filled with positivity that was outside what any of us had imagined. I heard from more than one staff member that it was the best week they had had at Norex and that’s saying something.”

You see warm actions towards others actually makes us feel good on a biochemical level as it raises the brain’s natural version of morphine and heroin – you get what is called a “Helper’s High” and people have more engagement when their environment is an open, transparent and resilient environment where people are motivated to work in a collaborative and encouraging way. Those that have been known to have a warm, inclusive environment include Google, Pitney Bowes, Eileen Fisher and Juilliard.

And, finally, it’s always nice to leave with a word of wisdom from someone more informed than myself: In today’s world we often emphasize big events but there is grace and power in the small acts of kindness. Aldous Huxley, a philosopher and writer who studied human nature for over two decades, was asked what was the best way to transform human beings. He knew the interviewer would want something heavy and profound, but, after a thoughtful pause, he simply replied that the way we make a difference is to be a “little kinder.”

Sounds like a smart plan to me. Who’s on board? I’ll bring my #STK spirit and help you ‘spread your kindness wings!’

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