The key is…kindness!

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  • Kindness has a positive effect on overall brain health
  • As a family, practicing kindness increases children’s empathy and parents’ resilience

Being kind helps keep your brain healthy, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Researchers and clinicians from the University of Texas at Dallas Brain Health Center sought to understand whether an online empathy training program would improve preschoolers’ positive social behaviors and their parents’ resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 The result is clear: Parents are more resilient and preschoolers are more empathetic after kindness training. Resilience in psychology is an individual’s ability to build up and live satisfactorily despite traumatic circumstances.

Practical and healthy interactions

The researchers used a modified program from Kindness Network for Children Founded by Ted Dreyer about 38 mothers and their children between the ages of 3 and 5. The program, “Kind Minds with Moozie”, contains five short units in which a digital cow (“Moozie”) describes creative exercises that parents can do with their children to teach them about kindness.

“Our goal is to encourage parents to engage in hands-on, brain-healthy interactions with their children to help them understand each other better, especially in times of stress,” said Maria Johnson, Director of Youth & Family Innovations. “Research shows that kindness is a powerful catalyst for dynamic social engagement, which in turn is a critical component of overall brain health.”

Surprisingly, the researchers found that the children’s levels of empathy remained below average despite the marked improvement after training. This may be because COVID-19 safety measures have severely limited the normal social and emotional learning of children.

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Kindness affects cognitive function

To determine how kindness affects brain health, the team asked parents to survey their resilience and report on their children’s empathy before and after the training program. Flexibility and empathy both include cognitive skills such as the ability to respond to stress or consider different perspectives. So their findings support the idea that kindness can affect cognitive function and overall brain health.

practicing kindness

Parents can learn simple strategies to practice kindness effectively, right at home, to create a healthy environment for their children’s brains. “In times of stress, spending time practicing kindness to yourself and designing kindness to your children can build your resilience and improve your children’s social behaviors,” said Julie Fratantoni, PhD student, director of operations for The Brain Health Project. “Don’t underestimate the power of kindness, because it can change and ultimately shape brain health.”

While in 2021 acts of kindness increased 21% globallyThis new study is part of a welcome positive dynamic!

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