MADISON, Wisc. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The rates of bullying, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression are growing among teens and even pre-teens. Now, psychologists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison believe they have found something that can decrease the likelihood of some of these problems.
They learn alphabets and numbers, but is kindness a skill that can be taught?
“It’s fundamentally no different than learning how to play the violin or learning to do sports,” detailed Richard Davidson, PhD, the director and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Davidson developed the mindfulness-based kindness curriculum for preschoolers to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.
“Part of the curriculum involves being able to tune into sensations in the body and learn to identify them and respond to them in an appropriate way,” explained Davidson.
One of the techniques he uses in class that parents can use with kids at home is belly breathing. Davidson tested the curriculum on a group of preschoolers.
Davidson told Ivanhoe, “We found that kids who went through the kindness curriculum behaved more altruistically.”
He also found that the kids in the kindness curriculum had a better attention span, better grades, and showed a higher level of social competence. Emily Golliher uses the kindness curriculum in her elementary school and says it’s vital for child development.
“If we can spend time and teach students how to be kind to themselves and kind to others, that is just going to have a ripple effect across the school environment,” said Golliher.
The mindfulness-based kindness curriculum is free to download from the Center of Healthy Minds’ website, and it’s available in both English and Spanish. Davidson said the curriculum does not only have to be limited to schools, and there are simple strategies that parents can try at home.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.