Explain,how can your rate yourself in a scale of 1-4 based on your level of self-esteem before you started the intervention training?


Teaching Kindness as a Counseling Intervention Strategy



  Table of Contents

Abstract 3

Introduction. 4

Literature Review.. 5

The Focus of Counseling Interventions. 5

The Relationship between Kindness and Self-Esteem.. 6

Methods. 8

The research Question. 8

The Hypothesis. 8

Methods Used to Develop the Intervention. 8

Methods of Data Collection, Analysis and Presentation. 9

Site of Research. 9

Sample and Sample selection. 10

Results. 10

Limitations of the Study. 13

Discussion. 14

Suggestion of Future Researches. 15

References. 16

Appendix 1: Questionnaire. 19


The prevalence of acts of kindness amongst humanity is believed to enhance the improvement of life skills and self-esteem. The core purpose of this study was to establish how teaching kindness as a counseling intervention enhances the development of self-esteem and self-concept among third grade boys. The implementation process involved administering a self-concept test to 3rd graders at Inner City School, Washington DC and a kindness training intervention implemented before another post-training test was administered. Data collection involved both primary methods (use of questionnaires) and secondary data (analysis of trends in referral records, comparisons in test performance and changes in number of acts of kindness from journal entries). Data collected was coded into SPSS and analyzed quantitatively using descriptive statistics such as the mean, mode, media and frequencies.  Findings from the study revealed that there is a significant relationship between training kindness as a counseling intervention and improvement of students’ self-esteem. The researchers recommended that training kindness should be facilitated across all elementary schools in order to enable learners develop life skills and positive self-concept.

Key words: self esteem, kindness, counseling, K-3, children, life skills


Teaching kindness as counseling intervention has become a fundamental focus of consideration across academic institutions. The core focus of training kindness constitutes teaching elementary level children ways of improving life skills and positive self-concept. These enhance their ability of making moral choices, peer relations, and academic performance. Suldo, Savage and Mercer (2015) recognize the popularity of phrases such as “random acts of kindness” and “pay it forward” in the contemporary society. Within the children community, scientific studies have proven a positive correlation among physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness. The critical need to apply the correct counseling intervention to teach kindness cannot be overlooked in the contemporary academic arena.

At Inner City School, Washington DC, stakeholders have strived to implement various counseling interventions aimed at enhancing children’s life skills and self-concept. Previously, the Inner City School adopted crisis management, conflict resolution skills, group techniques and group work as counseling interventions. Counselors tailored the interventions to meet the specific needs of each level, but the accuracy of scale identification and implementation is still in doubt. More emphasis has been given to mentorship programs as a way of improving academic outcomes while ignoring the contributive nature of kindness interventions. Thus, teaching kindness as a counseling intervention provides the best avenue for behavior modification among 3rd grade boys at Inner City School.

Darjan & Tomita (2014) argue that primary universal intervention is the ideal approach towards life-skills training. This implies working with children who do not have behavioral disorders so as to develop pro-social behavior. Barbarin, Iruka, Harradine, Win, McKinney and Taylor (2013) insist that psychosocial competence should be taught especially after keeping in mind the ethnicity of the subjects. Conversely, Smeets, Neff, Alberts and Peters (2014) claim that self compassion is the proper channel for success in this peer group.  The authors do not seem to be in agreement because most of them differ in terms of the nature of intervention and the issues that should be given precedence during the intervention.

Literature ReviewThe Focus of Counseling Interventions

Taylor et al. (2015) describe counseling interventions as unique interrelationship between a counselor and a counselor aimed at creating a change in personal development, professional development, and social adjustment. Counseling interventions, as per Park (2010), vary across age groups, time and place because of individual differences that characterize humanity. However, Layous, Nelson, Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, Lyubomirsky (2012) contend that counseling interventions ought to satisfy the universal criteria for activity and directivity, problem-focus and solution-oriented, collaboration, structuralism and epidemiological in nature regardless of the context of implementation. While applying any of the intervention, counselors are required by Darjan & Tomita (2014) to tailor each principle to meet the population’s specific needs. Sagor (2015) enumerates examples of counseling interventions including teaching cooperative techniques, management of crisis situations, conflict resolution, social life skills and use of technology for self-care processes.

The Relationship between Kindness and Self-Esteem

Taylor et. al. (2015) carried out an analysis among a group of teachers to determine how kindness through a mindfulness-based intervention affected their own self-concept and relationship with others. While the point of emphasis was adults, the findings from the study are useful for all counselors that seek to influence behavior through kindness across all age levels. It was found that when mindfulness was taught, teachers became more mindful towards one another. It was also found that there were significant effects on their coping mechanism as well as the rate at which they forgave their colleagues for doing something wrong against them.

According to Smeets, Neff, Alberts and Peters (2014), kindness is positively correlated to feeling of happiness, optimism, and curiosity. The minimized feelings of failure and inferiority that developed after the mindedness training increased their self-esteem because they might have begun to appreciate themselves. Additionally, the authors noted that emotional intelligence and wisdom enhanced participants’ self-concept. Although Suldo, Savage & Mercer (2015) caveats that teaching kindness and self-esteem do not exhibit any relationship, the recognition by Rickard, Appelman, James, Murphy, Gill and Bambrick (2012) that self-kindness is associated with greater imitative, more resilient feelings of self-worth over time, and social connectedness negates the former assertion and establishes a positive relationship between teaching kindness and increased self-esteem.

The major aspects of children’s consideration in learning kindness include psychosocial development and positive psychology.  Psycho-social competence refers to the positive relationships, interpersonal skills, and self regulation exhibited by subjects among their peers and their superiors (Barbarin, Iruka, Harradine, Win, McKinney and Taylor, 2013). The latter authors carried out an analysis among boys of color in order to establish their level of psychosocial competence prior to the 3rd grade. It was found that similar levels of emotional self regulation were reported in the Latin and African American boys 2 years after the initial study. However, some of the concepts declined during the course of the research, and this included teacher-student interactions as well as peer relationships and self regulation. Even satisfaction in school life diminished as the children transitioned from pre-K to second grade. These findings indicate that unless some counseling intervention is done, at-risk children are likely to fall on the wayside. Their competence in school and life generally is dramatically diminished because of the socioeconomic disadvantage they face. It would be insightful to look at the difference that certain counseling strategies would have in these children’s outcomes.

Alford and White (2015) conducted research on positive school psychology. They believe that psychological services ought to be infused into schools’ daily operations. It was stated that these institutions need not wait for students to seek help as prevention was a better option for dealing with mental illness. The authors spoke against welfare models by affirming that these are reactive in nature, and they tend to dwell on existing risks. These sentiments were reiterated in a different study by Darjan and Tomita (2014). They advocated for a pro-social approach to psychology in schools. Overall, a lot of the studies in this subject are acknowledging the importance of preventive strategies. Most of them have been preempted by earlier principles that have informed counseling. A typical example is Kaplan and his principles of psychiatry prevention; this was written in the 1960s.

Suldo, Savage and Mercer (2014) also incorporated kindness in their research design. Acts of kindness were treated as a way of teaching positive emotions to students. The virtue is a character strength that influences a person’s happiness. Students in the intervention program were frequently asked to explore different acts of kindness and how this causes happiness. Eventually, they were able to understand the association between having positive feelings and defining their virtues and strengths. The participants shared their strengths and helped each other see how their characters best reflected kindness. Even different ways of applying kindness in life were explored. As a result, they were in a better position to savor their experiences.

The research Question

How can teaching kindness as a counseling intervention raise awareness in skills third grade boys already possess and how can it help to develop new skills in helping participants develop life skills and a positive self-concept, in an effort to make healthy choices, enhance peer relations, and achieve personal and academic goals?

The Hypothesis

HO: Teaching kindness as a counseling intervention strategy does not raise self-esteem that 3rd grade boys have.

HA: Teaching kindness as a counseling intervention strategy does raise self-esteem that 3rd grade boys have.

Methods Used to Develop the Intervention

Teaching kindness as a counseling intervention comprised of theoretical and practical training. The initial stages of the intervention featured theoretical training of 3rd grade boys about the necessity of observing kindness and acting kindness to others. All 3rd grade boys at Inner City School were trained how to show kindness to everyone their interactive environment and equipped with skills of correcting their fellow students who failed to live up to the requirements of kindness.

The selected participants were taken through a 12-week long session in which they recorded their acts of kindness. They were requested to do one act of kindness per day and to reflect upon it through a kindness journal. This method of intervention is known to promote active learning as the subjects try out something and then analyze how it has affected their lives.

Methods of Data Collection, Analysis and Presentation

Data collection involved action research.  Validity and reliability were assured through the use of triangulation, where a series of data collection methods, which included primary data (collcted through use of questionnaires) and secondary data (collected through analysis of referral trends, students’ journals entries and performance in self-concept tests). Records of office referrals for behavior problems among the subjects were noted before and after the counseling intervention. In addition, questionnaires, self-assessment reports were used to collect data. Change in children’s self-concept was measured through a test administered before the intervention and after the intervention (Sagor, 2015). Data collected was coded into the SPSS software and subjected to quantitative analysis using descriptives including the mean, mode, median, and frequencies. Presentation of data was done using tables, charts, and graphs.

Site of Research

The research was conducted at an Inner City School in Washington DC. There were 557 students in this institution, so the choice was relatively good. Grade 3 students accounted for 18.9% of the membership; however, they were selected because of majority.

Sample and Sample selection

Third grade boys were selected as research participants because positive self-concept has not received much analysis in the group. The class had 26 third graders, so this means that only 14 formed the basis of analysis. In order to increase the richness of the information, it was essential to work with a reasonable number of participants. Purposive sampling was used to select the 3rd graders.


Table 1: Response According to Race

  Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid American 14 53.8 53.8 53.8
African-American 7 26.9 26.9 80.8
American 5 19.2 19.2 100.0
Total 26 100.0 100.0  


(Source: Author, 2016)

Figure 1: A pie Chart showing distribution of students according to race

(Source: Author, 2016)

Table 2: Self-esteem before the Kindness Training Intervention

  N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
Level of Self-esteem before the training 26 1.0 4.0 3.038 .8237
Valid N (listwise) 26        

(Source: Author, 2016)


Table 3: Self-esteem after the Kindness Training Intervention

  N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
Level of Self-esteem after the training 26 1.0 3.0 1.462 .6469
Valid N (listwise) 26        

(Source: Author, 2016)

Table 3: Change in Performance in Self-concept Tests

  Total Marks (out of 100%) Mean Marks Median mark Mode Mark
Score Before 1,003 38.58 44 41
Score After 2,050 78.85 79 58

(Source: Author, 2016)

Table 4: Trends in Office Referrals between October and March



Number of Referrals
Overall 3rd Grade Alone Percentage change
October 2015 56 8
November 2015 61 11 5.4%
January 2016 43 7 -9.3%
February 2016 52 5 -3.9%
March 2016 41 1 9.8%

(Source: Author, 2016)

Figure 2: A line Graph Showing number of referrals between October and March

Key: overall                                              3rd Graders only

(Source: Author, 2016)

Table 6: Trends in the number of Acts of Kindness

  Acts of Kindness Before Acts of Kindness After
Total 27 81
Mean 1.04 3.1

(Source: Author, 2016)

Figure 3: A bar graph showing the differences between the number of acts of kindness before and after the counseling intervention

Key: Total number of acts                                Mean number of acts

1-Before the Intervention                                   2-After the intervention

Limitations of the Study

The participants in the research were mainly children aged between 8 and 9 years. Administering questionnaires among children was difficult because of researcher’s inability to control the behavior of children. However, the researcher self-administered the questionnaires in order to ensure that children had a clear understanding of what they were responding to as one way of enhancing accuracy of the responses. Secondly, children’s responses are usually characterized by high subjectivity, which makes it hard for them to exhibit honesty and truthfulness in the information they provide. To delimit this study, the researcher repeated the study among selected participants with the aim of establishing consistence of the findings.


Majority of the students at Inner City School are Americans (53.8%) followed by African-Americans (26.9%) and finally Africans (19.2%). This could be because the school is located in Washington DC, which is an American city.

It was evident from the study that training kindness as a counseling intervention has a positive effect on self-esteem. The mean response before the intervention was 3.08, implying that majority of the participants rated themselves at moderate or less than moderate level of self-esteem. The mean after the training was 1.462, which is more close to 1, implying that majority of the participants had a very high or high rating of self-esteem after the training. This is supported by change in participants score in self-concept test whose mean increased from 38.58% (before the training) to (78.85%) after the training.

The continued decreasing of office referrals as indicated in table 4 also indicates the positive effect of training kindness on life-skills. The number of referrals decreased constantly by 9.3%, 3.9% and 9.8% in January, February and March respectively. At the same time, there was a significant increase in the number of acts of kindness (200%) after the training as indicated in table 6. The mean of acts of kindness indicates that before the kindness training, only each participant did approximately one act of the kindness (1.04); however, after the training, each participant could do at least acts of kindness per unit day (3.1).  We, therefore, fail to reject the null hypothesis (HO), implying that we accept the alternative hypothesis (HA) owing to the fact that teaching kindness as a counseling intervention strategy does raise self-esteem that 3rd grade boys have.

Results from the study exhibit consistency with Alford’s & White’s (2015) findings that elementary level children require teaching kindness because this is the age at which humanity starts to develop pro-social skills, which is imperative in enhancing their self-esteem and desirable life skills. This assertion is also reflected in Erikson’s theory of theory of psychosocial development, which classifies 3rd grade children in the industry vs. inferiority. According to Erikson, elementary school children strive to build self-confidence, achieve recognition of teachers, and appear good in front of their peers. Teaching kindness, therefore, should be considered as a fundamental strategy towards meeting these children’s desires and be implemented across a variety of schools.

Suggestion of Future Researches

In the future, it will be quite helpful for researchers to look at how kindness as a social intervention can assist girls in building self esteem. The effects of this issue on academic performance may also need to be studied in order to illuminate its multifaceted nature. Kindness may also have an effect on bullying incidences in schools. It would be informative to study how this counseling strategy impacts such a crucial behavioral issue.


Alford, Z. & White, M. (2015). Positive school psychology. Positive Education, 3(14), 93-109.

Barbarin, O., Iruka, I., Haradine, C., Winn, D., McKinney, M. & Taylor, L. (2013). Development of social-emotional competence in boys of color: A cross-sectional cohort analysis from pre-K to second grade. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(2), 145-155.

Darjan, I. & Tomita, M. (2014). Proactive strategies for efficient discipline policy. Journal of Community Positive Practices, 14(2), 28-36.

Layous. K., Nelson, S.K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K.A., Lyubomirsky, S. (2012) Kindness Counts: Prompting Prosocial Behavior in Preadolescents Boosts Peer Acceptance and Well-Being. PLoS ONE, 7(12): e51380.

Park, N. (2010). Building strengths of character: Keys to positive youth development. Reclaiming Children and Youth Journal, 18(2), 40-47.

Rickard, N., Appelman, P., James, R., Murphy, F., Gill, A. & Bambrick, C. (2012). Orchestrating life skills: The effect of increased school-based music classes on children’s competence and self esteem. International Journal of Music Education, 3(4), 1-18.

Sagor, R. (2015). Guiding school improvement with action research. Alexandria, VA: ASCD Publishers.

Smeets, E., Neff, K., Alberts, H. & Peters, M. (2014). Meeting suffering with kindness: Effects of a brief self compassion intervention for female college students. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 22(10), 1-15.

Suldo, S., Savage, J. & Mercer, S. (2015).  Increasing a middle school students life satisfaction: Efficacy of a positive psychology group intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(5), 19-42.

Taylor, C., Harrison, J., Haimovitz, K., Oberle, E., Thomson, K., Schonert-Reichl, K. & Roeser, R. (2015). Examining ways that a mindfulness-based intervention reduces stress in public school. Mindfulness Journal, 3(15), 79.

Appendix 1: Questionnaire

Dear participant,

Thank you for accepting to participate in this study. The aim of the study is to identify the need for kindness counseling at your school in Washington DC. Your rights as a research participant have been highly prioritized. Participant confidentiality is guaranteed and data security is of paramount importance to the researcher. You are free to withdraw from the research at any time when you think it is good for you.

  1. Please tick a choice that describes your race




For questions 2-3, use the rating scale below: 1-Very high, 2-High, 3-Moderate, 4-Low

  1. How can your rate yourself in a scale of 1-4 based on your level of self-esteem before you started the intervention training?
1 2 3 4


  1. How can your rate yourself in a scale of 1-4 based on your level of self-esteem after you started the kindness intervention training?
1 2 3 4


  1. Analysis of Students’ Performance in Self-concept tests
  Total Marks (out of 100%) Mean Marks Median mark Mode Mark
Score Before        
Score After        


  1.  Analysis of the Trends of Office Referrals among 3rd graders (to be filled by the head teacher)


Number of Referrals
Overall 3rd Grade Alone Percentage change
October 2015      
November 2015      
January 2016      
February 2016      
March 2016      


  1. Analysis of Performance from Journal Entries from Journal Entries
  Acts of Kindness Before Acts of Kindness After

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