A recent study has shown how kindness strengthens the brain and help boost the entire family’s cognitive health.
Performing a kind deed might make you feel good about yourself, and a recent study reveals that it can also enhance the brains of everybody who lives in the same house. Teaching and practicing kindness at home improves parents’ resilience and children’s empathy, according to researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Kindness can improve a person’s cognition, according to the study, because both resilience and empathy employ different cognitive skills including responding well to stressors and evaluating diverse views.
The Children’s Kindness Network is an online kindness training program in which 38 moms and their children aged three to five years old participated. “Kind Minds With Moozie,” a five-module program starring a digital cow who described innovative exercises parents can use with their children to learn about kindness, was part of the presentation.
“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,” says Maria Johnson, MA, director of Youth & Family Innovations and coauthor of the study in a media release. “Research shows that kindness is a strong potentiator of vibrant social engagement, which in turn is a critical component of overall brain health.”
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The team looked into the program’s influence as well as the children’s empathy. Before and after the training program, parents completed a survey about their own resilience and their children’s empathy. Parents reported being more resilient following the session, and preschool-aged children reported being more empathetic.
One striking discovery was that, despite demonstrating improvements after training, children’s empathy scores were below average. COVID-19 limitations and lockdowns, according to the researchers, hampered children’s social and emotional development.
“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,” says Julie Fratantoni, PhD, cognitive neuroscientist and chief of operations for The BrainHealth Project. “Do not underestimate the power of kindness, because it can ultimately change and shape brain health.”
The study’s findings can be found below: