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?