Fall weather can be unpredictable and changes in weather can alter children’s behavior.
When my girls were school-aged, the topic of weather and our children’s behavior came up in my Parents Anonymous group. The facilitator said, “Any time there is a weather change you can expect the kids’ behavior to change.” Several teachers and daycare professionals agree.
Weather to behavior— what can you expect?
Rain, thunder and lightning storms, cloudy and overcast: Kids tend to argue more, yell, pick at each other and fight. Kids become crankier, ill-tempered and are noisier. Kids can display chaotic, acting-out behaviors that are impulse-control related. Teachers and childcare professionals report that kids are louder than normal and there is a sense of gloom or depression to accompany the dark, dreary weather. Electricity in the air or thunder magnifies any of these behaviors.
Windy weather produces very energetic behavior: “It’s not that the children are ‘bad,’ it is just the increase in activity.” Kids run and jump more and may seem to have difficulty sitting still for very long.
Snowfall creates excitement: Kids seem to go “haywire” and want to go outdoors. Pent up energy may sway the balance to drive children outdoors (Snow plus Kids equals Fun). Alternately you get ‘cabin fever’ with snow days and kids are stuck inside; children become irritable, listless and show similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors, typically during the winter.
There have been more than a few studies that shows a clear correlation between weather and behavior as far back as 1898 when Edwin G. Dexter studied kids in several Denver, Colorado schools. Using over 600 corporal punishment cases, he found the weather to be a key factor. In studies in 1977 and later, scientific data pointed to the drop in barometric pressure as the culprit.
Dr. Maria Simonson of Johns Hopkins noted that a falling barometer results in an atmosphere that pushes down on the body, constricting capillaries that causes a reduction of oxygen to the brain, possibly resulting in children’s behavior changes. Children’s brains are still developing and that may also play a part into the negative behaviors as well.
The atmosphere does not only affect children; a relative of mine was a deputy sheriff for many years and then took a position as magistrate for the county. He always dreaded the week of the full moon saying, “The jails will be full and the crazies come out of the woodwork.” There would be an increase in domestic violence, fights, shootings, public drunkenness, petty crime and yes— the jails would be packed to the brim.
Science shows increases in negative behaviors peak at two days prior to the full moon. Nursing homes and hospital emergency rooms also report an increase in activity and there is a peak in childbirth around the full moon events. The full moon affects the oceans’ tides so why not the bodily fluids?
My mother planned her garden with the Farmer’s Almanac and planted every year ‘by the light of the moon.’ Her crops grew satisfactorily, compared to our neighbors who planted without using her system. Mom’s harvests were quite bountiful and the evidence is insurmountable in favor of the moon, as far as she was concerned.
Why is this news important for parents?
For some parents like me with short tempers, it helped to find a legitimate reason for a child’s negative behavior and the weather sounds more plausible than a child ‘pushing buttons’ or being ‘out to get me.’ It’s also better to blame it on something that we have absolutely no control over like the weather; blaming the weather instead of our children went a long way in cooling tempers.
My lawyer-wannabe children would have loved being armed with this information— scientific and anecdotal combined. While understanding the weather possibility made me a little more patient, I could not go around with a barometer strapped to my wrist. On those days when it seemed like everyone has lost their mind I’d look up at the sky and wonder.
What do you think; does the weather affect children’s behavior?
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of WoofBC Under Flicker/CC License Original .