Yelling at young children: fun, but not effective

This man is a professional: And his yelling can make anybody learn.
This man is a professional: And his yelling can make anybody learn.Courtesy xiangdian
So, it turns out that kids aren’t able to learn from their mistakes, at least not until they’re about 12 years old.

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.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:


posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 4:53pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

yes sir i won't do it again.

posted on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 5:00pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Negative feedback doesn't work? I dunno -- my parents always found spanking to be quite effective.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 6:41pm
PINK's picture
PINK says:

i think that kids shouldn't yell at children because they wont get nothing out of it so whats really the point of yelling at someone thats 1-8 when the aren't even understanding what you are saying

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:42pm
Yete's picture
Yete says:

What experiment did u do? in order to find out that kids cant learn from their mistakes.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:41pm
ggbolo's picture
ggbolo says:

I've never really gotten yelled at but just talked calmly to and I ended up learning from my mistakes that way.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:41pm
JOJO22's picture
JOJO22 says:

Personally i think that yelling at younger children should only be used to a certain advantage. When you yell at younger children they usuallly seem to think that your angry with them, so they stop what they're doing make you happier with them.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:42pm
snowmanbaybay's picture
snowmanbaybay says:

Where did you get this information from?? Is this proven somewhere?? If so can I get a link where it is proven? Yelling is not always the best possible answer.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:42pm
MegaMayfield's picture
MegaMayfield says:

First of all since all kids learn different ways therefore not all kids are the same. I mean just because the kids are younger than 8 doesn't mean they don't understand what the adults are yelling or telling them. I think it's effective either way unless the kids don't let it effect them.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:45pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Whoa! Hey Folks!

So, all nonsense in my post aside... The original article can be found here:

But, basically, the study involved putting adults and kids of different age groups in an MRI machine (a brain scanner) and giving them a little logic test on a computer. The MRI machine recorded which parts of their brain were activated when the got answers right and wrong. The younger kids, I guess, mostly responded to getting answers right, while older kids and adults learned from getting answers wrong also.

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:53pm
snowmanbaybay's picture
snowmanbaybay says:

Oh ok i just wanted to see some proof. I did not know about that. Thats cool

posted on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 5:12pm

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