Saturday, 26 October 2013

Is there a connection between windy weather and children's behaviour?

This is a subject that's fascinated me for a while. With stormy weather and gale force blasts of up to 80 mph forecast to hit the UK over the weekend and early next week, I decided to do a little more research.


It's sometimes said amongst teachers that windy weather equals a tough day in the classroom, and I asked friends and family in the teaching profession if they'd heard that suggestion, and if they agreed with it.

The answer came back a resounding YES!  Some said it had been mentioned at teacher training, others that it was commonly discussed in the staff room.

They reported wild-eyed and super-charged children, whipped up into frenzies, who were difficult to control and lacked concentration.  They said they had more behavioural issues to deal with on stormy days, and some even dreaded days when bad weather was predicted.

I guess you could argue this behaviour away to some extent - maybe stormy weather has resulted in 'wet break' and the kids haven't had chance to get out and expend their energy?  Perhaps the weather was bad overnight and the noise has disrupted their sleep making them less able to concentrate and more cranky?


Hearing all this makes me wonder if this may actually be the real reason that schools close during severe weather!  I was at school in '87 when the Great Storm hit and our school closed down, allegedly because it was too dangerous for the school buses to operate.  Me and a bunch of friends sought out the highest multi-storey car park in town and ran around on the top floor to see if we could fly.  That was a pretty insane thing to do. 

When you look to nature, you also see unusual behaviour in animals at times of imminent storms or severe weather.  Have you ever noticed birds and beasts acting strangely and seeking out shelter at times of impending storms? Is this a finely tuned survival instinct or something else?

It's believed that animals pick up on the change in atmospheric pressure just before bad weather arrives and this is what causes their odd reactions.

There's been some research about the effect of low barometric pressure and how this affects humans, so perhaps it's not the wind per se that's responsible for cranky kids, but the low atmospheric pressure that comes with it.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association published a study that found that acts of violence and emergency psychiatry visits "are significantly associated with low barometric pressure." Authors in that study concluded, "the data supports the interpretation that low barometric pressure is associated with an increase in impulsive behaviours."

Researchers in the Ukraine have found that slight low-frequency atmospheric variations can influence human mental activity, causing significant changes in attention and short term memory functions.

This article is really interesting, and it lists some steps you can take to prevent stormy behaviour at home too:


  • Pay attention to weather forecasts so you're aware when low pressure systems are moving in. Times of extreme systems might not be the best days to plan a lot of outings or have high expectations.
  • Keep the environment especially calming. Relaxing CD's, warm baths, comfortable clothes and a calm environment will be especially helpful.
  • Avoid other triggers during these times. Since some children become more hyperactive when they've had artificial food colorings, for instance, you might want to keep your child's diet as natural as possible during these days.
  • Wait it out. Once you know there's a reason for the behaviour, it's generally easier to make it through it. The storm will pass, in more ways than one.


So, what's your view on this?  Does windy weather equate to wild kids?  Are your children more bad-tempered when it's stormy?  Do you have any tips to share on how you handle that?


http://www.catsyellowdays.com

21 comments:

  1. When the pressure changes before a thunder storm I get a nasty headache. It feels like there is a huge pressure is on my head. It's not surprising children sense it more.

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    1. Me too actually, I get headaches and sinus pain during low pressure, so like you say, I guess it makes sense.

      Thanks for your comment x

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  2. How interesting....I'd never thought of it before but yes my kids are more hyper when it's windy....I'm so glad it's half term and we don't have to do the school run in horrible weather!!

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    1. That's very true, I'm not looking forward to the storms on Monday and glad I don't need to do the school run!

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  3. I was a teacher for 37 years in areas where wind can destroy homes, lives, and everything. Most of the really stormy times were not at school, since our children were sent home to their families. Heavy rains and thunderstorms caused the most unrest in the classroom. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

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    1. We're so lucky that we don't experience that kind of devastating weather here generally. It must be so scary to live through hurricanes x

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  4. When I was teaching any change in the weather meant a change in behavior - glad I dont have to teach tomorrow....crazy children!!

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  5. I think it definitely affects behaviour, and not just in children. I saw somebody on Twitter saying that she was struggling with her dementia patients in a care home who were mostly in a heightened state. And also dogs howling in wind is no urban myth.

    As it is all pressure related I am sure we are all susceptible to it, definitely.

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  6. Ooh that is interesting- will pay attention next time the weather is bad and see if I notice my kids being more hyper! I know I get twitchy when thunder storms are about, I get headaches and muscle spasms, so I guess it definitely effects us!

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  7. I think this definitely makes sense as I remember being at school and being distracted and chatty as soon as something exciting happened outside, e.g. rain, thunderstorms or snow.

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  8. This is really interesting - I hadn't really considered it with regards to children!

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  9. Never really thought about this before - well only in a 'if it's windy and the children are cooped up inside they got a bit stir-crazy' type of way. Ozzy always seems to sleep soundly the night before a storm. What does it all mean?!

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  10. Really, really interesting article Liz. I get the headache before the storm thing but also feel particularly energetic and vibrant during one. It certainly makes you think a bit deeper at the connection between our modern habits and natural instincts.

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  11. Interesting article and one I fully agree with - not only children but I notice my own behaviour changing with the bad weather!!

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  12. Makes sense to me! The full moon certainly affects people! We used to keep a note of it on the ward calendar in the hospital because it would explain people's odd behaviour - especially dementia patients

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  13. This is really interesting but do think it's more to do with disturbed nights and lack of being outdoors. I do love how you tried to fly - hope no-one got hurt.

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  14. ooooh how interesting. I'm going to take more notice next time we have a storm. x

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  15. I agree. When I lived in Italy I was in the mountains so the changes in weather were very pronounced, it was common knowledge that people - not just the kids - changed too, it made them more anxious, more jumpy, more likely to argue. I noticed in my son back then that yes he would become a little terror when the weather was about to get worse. Where I live now the changes in the weather aren't that noticable and it was morning of half term when the storm hit the other day so didn't really notice anything different in the twins.
    For further research, the Italians also used to say people would drink a lot more alcohol when there was a full moon .... just sayin

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  16. Lmao at you trying to fly in a storm! Mich x

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  17. Hi it is not only children my other half is really bad in low pressure weather ,he cant eat and very restless and hides himself under a blanket most of the time.they can say what they like i know it happens every time it is windy and low pressure .x

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  18. Hi there :) It's really interesting though I'm I didn't observe it. haha. But thanks to this that I have something to write on my lesson plan.

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