Skip to main content

Well-Being and Well-Doing: Bringing Mindfulness and Character Strengths to the Early Childhood Classroom and Home

Abstract

The science of character strengths and mindfulness has increased voluminously in the last couple decades but the application of each in the classroom, especially character strengths, has been limited and shallow. We outline four distinct areas of learning around mindfulness and character strengths to enable teachers to bring forth an optimal impact on the strengths of children. Special attention is given to parents in this model as well. We argue that the zeitgeist of social-emotional learning in the classroom offers particular value around well-doing as children learn prescribed skill-sets and the building of positive relationships. What is missing from social emotional learning (SEL), however, is a focus on well-being that speaks to the positive identity of each unique child. Research and practices from the new science of character serves as a pathway for supporting and boosting child well-doing and well-being which leads to child flourishing. To this end, we adapt Niemiec’s (2014) integration programme (Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice ; MBSP) to an individualised coaching model. We share some of these adaptations and offer numerous concepts for teachers to use personally and with students (e.g., strengthsight , the autopilot mind), exercises to support teachers (e.g., ‘catch AP-ASAP’, ‘the 10 second pause’, the use of signature strengths), and offer new research (partial replication study) on the most common ‘emergent’ character strengths in young children. We discuss a framework devised to boost strengths-based thinking and positive beliefs in children that flows from moment-making to meaning-making to memory-making, and on to mindset-making.

Keywords

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD   49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   64.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   99.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

Abbreviations

Catch AP-ASAP:

Autopilot minds-as soon as possible

MBSP:

Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice

MTT:

Mental time travel

SEL:

Social emotional learning

References

  • Adrian, J. E., Clemente, R. A., Villanueva, L., & Rieffe, C. (2005). Parent-child picture-book reading, mother’s mental state language and children’s theory of mind. Journal of Child Language, 32, 673–686.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baer, R. (2015). Ethics, values, virtues, and character strengths in mindfulness-based interventions: A psychological science perspective. Mindfulness, 6, 956–969. doi:10.1007/s12671-015-0419-2.

  • Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., Segal, Z. V., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D., & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.

    Google Scholar 

  • Biswas-Diener, R. (2006). From the equator to the North Pole: A study of character strengths. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 293–310. doi:10.1007/s10902-005-3646-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Briscoe, C. (2014). A study investigating the effectiveness of mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP). Thesis submitted to University of East London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Busby, G. J., & Suddendorf, T. (2009). Preschoolers begin to differentiate the times of events from throughout the lifespan. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6(6), 746–762.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cairone, K., Huber, D., & Likins, L. (2007). Facing the challenge disc 2 (DVD). Wilmington, DE: Video Active Productions.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carlson, E. N. (2013). Overcoming the barriers to self-knowledge: Mindfulness as a path to seeing yourself as you really are. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(2), 173–186.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cleveland, E. S., & Morris, A. (2014). Autonomy support and structure enhance children’s memory and motivation to reminisce: A parental training study. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15(3), 414–436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cleveland, E. S., & Reese, E. (2005). Maternal structure and autonomy support in conversations about the past: Contributions to children’s autobiographical memory. Developmental Psychology, 41, 376–388.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cleveland, E. S., Reese, E., & Grolnick, W. S. (2007). Children’s engagement and competence in personal recollection: Effects of parents’ reminiscing goals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 96, 131–149.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dreikurs, R., & Soltz, V. (1964). Children: The challenge. New York: Hawthorne Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fivush, R. (2011). The development of autobiographical memory. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 559–582.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218–226.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B, 359, 1367–1377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Positive emotions broaden and build. In P. Devine & A. Plant (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 1–53). Burlington, VT: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2012). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1241–1259. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9380-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwired for happiness: The new brain science of contentment, calm, and confidence. New York: Harmony.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(5), 362–371. doi:10.1080/17439760.2012.702784.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, M. L. (1975). Developmental synthesis of affect and cognition and its implications for altruistic motivation. Developmental Psychology, 11(5), 607–622.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hudson, J. A. (1990). The emergence of autobiographical memory in mother-child conversation. Knowing and remembering in young children. In R. Fivush & J. A. Hudson (Eds.), Emory symposia in cognition (Vol. 3, pp. 166–196). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hulefeld, M., Kisor, D., & Lottman, T. (2010). New day: Songs of hope and optimism for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jennings, P. A. (2015). Mindfulness for teachers: Simple skills for peace and productivity in the classroom. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D. (2006). Songs of resilience. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D. (2010). Feeling positive: Songs of positive psychology for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D. (2012). Here, now, know-how: Songs of mindfulness for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D., & Lottman, T. (2006). Songs of resilience. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D., & Lottman, T. (2010). Feeling positive: Songs of positive psychology for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D., & Lottman, T. (2011). Imagination generation: Songs of creativity for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisor, D., & Lottman, T. (2012). Here, now, know-how: Songs of mindfulness for young children. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Linkins, M., Niemiec, R. M., Gillham, J., & Mayerson, D. (2014). Through the lens of strength: A framework for educating the heart. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 64–68. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.888581.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising strengths in yourself and others. Coventry, UK: CAPP Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lottman, T. (2012). The A.F.T.E.R. school program: Songs and activities promoting acceptance, friendship, teamwork, empathy and responsibility. Covington, KY: Growing Sound.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lottman, T., & Zawaly, S. (2014). The character strengths of young children: A partial replication of Park & Peterson (2006). Unpublished data from Children, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGrath, R. E. (2014). Character strengths in 75 nations: An update. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 41–52. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.888580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McLean, K. C., & Syed, M. (Eds.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of identity development. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: A review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(1), 11–18. doi:10.1037/a0031569.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, K., & Gruendel, J. (1986). Event knowledge: Structure and function in development. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M. (2012). Mindful living: Character strengths interventions as pathways for the five mindfulness trainings. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(1), 22–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In H. Knoop & A. Delle Fave (Eds.), Well-being and cultures: Perspectives on positive psychology (pp. 11–29). New York, NY: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M., & Lissing, J. (2015). Mindfulness-based strengths practice (MBSP) for enhancing well-being, life purpose, and positive relationships. In I. Ivtzan & T. Lomas (Eds.), Mindfulness in positive psychology: The science of meditation and wellbeing. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M., & Wedding, D. (2014). Positive psychology at the movies 2: Using films to build character strengths and well-being. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M., Rashid, T., & Spinella, M. (2012). Strong mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness and character strengths. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 34(3), 240–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006a). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the values in action inventory of strengths for youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891–905.

    Google Scholar 

  • Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006b). Character strengths and happiness among young children: Content analysis of parental descriptions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 323–341.

    Google Scholar 

  • Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Character strengths in fifty-four nations and the fifty US states. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), 118–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perfect, T. J., & Lindsay, D. S. (Eds.). (2013). The SAGE handbook of applied memory. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York, Washington, DC: Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Proctor, C., Tsukayama, E., Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Fox Eades, J., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths Gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the life satisfaction and well-being of adolescents. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(5), 377–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Proyer, R. T., Sidler, N., Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012). A multi-method approach to studying the relationship between character strengths and vocational interests in adolescents. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 12(2), 141–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Quas, J., & Fivush, R. (Eds.). (2009). Emotion in memory and development: Biological, cognitive, and social considerations. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quinlan, D. M., Swain, N., Cameron, C., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2014). How ‘other people matter’ in a classroom-based strengths intervention: Exploring interpersonal strategies and classroom outcomes. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 77–89. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.920407.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rozin, P., & Royzman, E. B. (2001). Negativity bias, negativity dominance, and contagion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5(4), 296–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schacter, D. L., Addis, D. R., & Buckner, R. L. (2007). Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8(9), 657–661.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York, NY: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seider, S., Novick, S., & Gomez, J. (2013). The effects of privileging moral or performance character development in urban adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(6), 786–820.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Siegel, D. (2010). Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. New York: Bantam Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taumoepeau, M., & Ruffman, T. (2008). Stepping stones to others’ minds: Maternal talk relates to child mental state language and emotion understanding at 15, 24, and 33 months. Child Development, 79(2), 284–302.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tulving, E. (2002). Episodic Memory: From mind to brain. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 1–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wareham, P., & Salmon, K. (2006). Mother-child reminiscing about everyday experiences: Implications for psychological interventions in the preschool years. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(5), 535–554.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • White, M. A., & Waters, L. E. (2014). A case study of ‘The good school:’ Examples of use of Peterson’s strengths-based approach with students. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(1), 69–76. doi:10.1080/17439760.2014.920408.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Winsler, A., Manfra, L., & Diaz, R. M. (2007). “Should I let them talk?” Private speech and task performance among preschool children with and without behavior problems. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22(2), 215–231.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas J. Lottman .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer International Publishing AG

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Lottman, T.J., Zawaly, S., Niemiec, R. (2017). Well-Being and Well-Doing: Bringing Mindfulness and Character Strengths to the Early Childhood Classroom and Home. In: Proctor, C. (eds) Positive Psychology Interventions in Practice. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51787-2_6

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics