The Making Caring Common Project, done at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, came up with some interesting findings that seem even more relevant given that World Random Act of Kindness Day is just around the corner on November 13th. According to the study, a large majority of youth across a wide spectrum of races, cultures, and classes appear to value aspects of personal success—achievement and happiness—over concern for others.
It’s interesting because if you ask most parents how important instilling kindness into their kids is, they will rank it pretty high on the list. However, the findings say differently. From 2013-2014, researchers spoke with 10,000 kids in either middle and high school in the United States. Nearly 80% said that their parents taught them that personal happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for other people. Youth were also 3 times more likely to agree than disagree with this statement:
“My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”
Is this really the message we want to send our youth? Parents are usually concerned with their children’s moral state, so perhaps a hard look at the messages we send to children and youth on a daily bases would be a good idea. The survey shows that although caring and fairness are subordinated to achievement and happiness, they are still important to youth and their parents. Great!
In response to these findings, they have come up with 5 suggestions to help shift the balance towards kindness and caring for others in children and youth: