How To Avoid Travel Tantrums

Tue 23rd Aug 2022

According to a scientist from a leading British University there is an ‘exact formula’ for predicting the timing and likelihood of children having a tantrum in the backseat of a car.

Ahead of what is expected to be a bumper weekend of family road trips, a survey found that boredom is the most prevalent cause of backseat tantrums, with 68% of parents saying so. The kids being hungry (57%) and the journey being too long (62%) were the next most frequently cited causes.

Dr James Hind of Nottingham Trent University, says the formula T = 70 + 0.5E + 15F – 10S is the one parents can use to determine the likelihood of their children’s car breakdowns while sitting in the backseat.

Based on responses from 2,000 parents, Dr. Hind’s research determined the (T) average time a child will tantrum during a long car journey, which is 70 minutes.

A child being distracted for longer (E) reduces the likelihood of a tantrum, while having siblings in the car (S) increases the risk of tantrum-induced car breakdowns by 10 minutes - but food (F) delays tantrums by 15 minutes.

The study discovered that a child asks “Are we there yet?” 32 minutes into a car ride, and four times during the trip.

In advance of the long weekend, family road trips, the survey found that boredom is the most prevalent cause of backseat tantrums, with 68% of parents saying so. The kids being hungry (57%) and the journey being too long (62%) were the next most frequently cited causes.

Dr Hind, who is based in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, said: “If you have only one child, and you can keep them entertained and occasionally bribe them with food, you could manage two hours of tantrum-free driving.

“Unfortunately, two children with no entertainment and no snacks can brew up a tantrum in just 40 minutes.

“Snacks are important but there is a limit to how much they can help, so keep them to two an hour max.

“Entertainment is key but even that fails with really long journey times.

“Taking breaks to ‘reset the clock’ is important for preventing tantrums, as well as making sure you are not tired while driving.”