That is to say, negative feedback don’t mean a thing to an 8-year-old, as far as learning goes.
Now, don’t start worrying yet. All that time you’ve spent hollering at little children hasn’t been a total waste of time, it’s just been a waste of their time. And kids have time to waste—they’ll be alive for decades, while you could go any day now. With your days as numbered as they are, it’s important that you spend your remaining time living life to the fullest, and part of that involves yelling at young children, doesn’t it? Everybody needs a good yell now and again, and if you were to go around yelling at grown-ups all the time, you’d probably get punched in the mouth all the time. Because yelling at people is disrespectful.
And I don’t want you to walk away from this thinking that you should only yell at young kids. In fact, yelling at kids after they’re about 12, but before they’re old enough to crash your car on purpose, is particularly effective, because those kids can actually learn from negative feedback. This means that they’ll probably learn to provide you with fewer excuses to yell at them—and that makes each rarified yell that much sweeter.
See, it just so happens that kids develop a dramatically different learning style between the ages of 8 and 12. An 8-year-old (and younger kids) will only learn from positive reinforcement—so saying to them “Hey, JGordon Jr, good job bringing me my cigarettes!” is a good strategy, but yelling, “These aren’t my cigarettes, you accident, these are Darla’s!” at them is just going to go over their heads. You may have enjoyed yelling, but that’s not necessarily going to help you get the right cigarettes in the future.
Once they reach the age of twelve, your productive yelling options really open up. So, if you really wanted to, you could probably praise your 12-year-old for the stuff they do right, and they’ll learn. But you could also yell at them, with just as effective results. “Two and a Half Men season 3? What am I supposed to do with this? I wanted Three Men and a Baby! Three Men and a Baby! Charlie Sheen is a kitten killer!” is going to make sure you get what you want next Christmas.
Researchers are still unsure as to whether this change in learning styles is a result of the brain maturing, or if it simply comes from experience. But, as I see it, there’s only one good way to find out.