Parents, teachers and others hoping to promote positive feelings in children have a new tool in their kit: Working in synchrony.
Activities performed in unison, whether they are football drills, singing, playing music or dancing, help children feel more positively toward each other and may increase empathy, according to a new study. It's a way of bonding non-verbally.
Eight-year-olds were paired up and, after learning their partner’s name, put in front of a split-screen video monitor. A bouncing ball appeared repeatedly on each side of the screen and the children were instructed to push a button when the ball bounced on their side.
Synchrony is like a glue that brings people together — it's a magical connector.
Following the activity, all of the children were questioned about their feelings of similarity and closeness with their partner. An additional group of paired control subjects was given the same questionnaire but without having performed any activity.
Children who ended up working in synchronous pairs reported greater feelings of similarity and closeness.
“Synchrony is like a glue that brings people together — it's a magical connector for people," said lead author, Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington, in a statement.
The finding has exciting implications. It suggests new ways parents and educators can promote prosocial behavior, added Andrew Meltzoff, the co-director of I-LABS.
This study is published in the journal, PLOS ONE.