It’s a scientific development that parents have been waiting for generations for: how to keep children from freaking out during car rides. If you’ve ever ridden with a kid, you know that the occasional rear seat collapse is the norm. A statistician has put together a precise formula to predict the probability of a tantrum. Read on to find out how to keep the peace the next time you travel with little ones.
dr. James Hind of Nottingham Trent University interviewed 2,000 parents and found that the average time it takes a child to have a tantrum during a car ride is 70 minutes. He used that and other data to put together the following formula:
T = 70 + 0.5E + 15F – 10S
Translation: Every minute a child is entertained decreases the likelihood of a tantrum (E). Food (F) can delay a rear seat collapse by 15 minutes. But having siblings (S) in the car was found to reduce drift-free time by 10 minutes. The statistician also found that the average child will ask “are we there yet?” 32 minutes in a car ride, and will ask a total of four times.
“If you only have one kid, and you can keep them busy and bribe them with food every now and then, you can drive for two hours drift-free,” Hind said. “Unfortunately, two kids with no entertainment and no snacks can throw a tantrum in just 40 minutes. Snacks are important, but there’s a limit to how much they can help, so keep them to no more than two an hour. Entertainment is key, but even that failed with really long travel times.”
The survey found that boredom is the No. 1 cause of backseat tantrums, as cited by 68% of parents, followed by the journey taking too long (62%) and children who are hungry (57%). “Taking breaks to ‘reset the clock’ is important to avoid tantrums and make sure you don’t get tired while driving,” Hind says.
The british sun recently published a series of hacks to prevent children from throwing tantrums during car rides. They include scheduling training breaks; traveling at night, so part of the journey takes place when children are asleep; talk about the importance of wearing seat belts for the trip; and play interactive games that involve all of you.
An expert told Parents magazine that if a tantrum does occur, it is best to ignore it (unless it involves aggression towards others). “Turn up your music, sing a song to yourself, and focus on the road,” suggests Marni Axelrad, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. If you can’t concentrate, stop, but keep ignoring the tantrum thrower until the drama ends.