A team of researchers and doctors have tested whether participating in an online kindness training program affected preschoolers’ social behavior and parents’ resilience during the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts from the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas analyzed 38 mothers and their 3- to 5-year-old children. The subjects participated in a program entitled “Kind Minds with Moozie,” which describes different activities parents can do with their children to teach them kindness.
The researchers had parents survey their own resilience and their kids’ empathy before and after the training. The scientists discovered that the parents were more resilient, and the preschoolers were more empathetic after the training. Since cognitive abilities are needed for these traits, they determined that kindness can improve cognitive function, affecting overall brain health.
“We aim to encourage parents to engage in practical, brain-healthy interactions with their children that aid in a better understanding of one another, especially during times of stress,” said BrainHealth researcher Maria Johnson. “Research shows that kindness is a strong potentiator of vibrant social engagement, which in turn is a critical component of overall brain health.”
Interestingly, the experts also found that despite the kindness training, childrens’ empathy levels were still below average. They believe this is due to the isolation the children suffered due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Still yet, the study suggests that kindness is good for parents and children. Fellow BrainHealth researcher Julie Fratantoni explains,
“In times of stress, taking a moment to practice kindness for yourself and model it for your children can boost your own resilience and improve your child’s prosocial behaviors,” said Johnson. “Do not underestimate the power of kindness, because it can ultimately change and shape brain health.”
Johnson believes this benefit can move beyond the nuclear family, “Kindness can be a powerful brain health booster that raises resilience, not only for parents and families, but for society as a whole.”
The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.