This Genius Formula Predicts If Your Child Will Have A Meltdown In The Car

Avoid backseat tantrums with a little maths and knowhow.
Orbon Alija via Getty Images

A statistician has calculated the “exact formula” for predicting the chances – and timing – of children throwing a tantrum in the backseat of a car during a long journey.

According to Dr James Hind, from Nottingham Trent University, T = 70 + 0.5E + 15F – 10S is the code parents can use to crack the probability of their offspring’s backseat breakdowns.

Dr Hind’s research, which was developed alongside LV= Britannia Rescue and based on responses from 2,000 parents, found that the time (T) the average child will typically take to throw a tantrum during a long car journey is 70 minutes.

The chances of a tantrum are reduced by every minute a child is entertained (E), while food (F) will allow parents to delay the tantrum by 15 minutes – but having siblings (S) in the car was found to increase the chances of backseat breakdowns by 10 minutes.

The research found the average child will ask “are we nearly there yet?” 32 minutes into a car journey, and four times during the road trip.

As families prepare for long road trips ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, the survey found that boredom is the primary cause of backseat tantrums – cited by 68% of parents – followed by the journey being too long (62%) and the kids being hungry (57%).

Dr Hind, who is based at 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.”

Henry Topham, managing director of LV= Britannia Rescue, added: “Whilst the Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect opportunity for a final bit of family time before the kids go back to school, it doesn’t always come without long car journeys and traffic jams, which can lead to backseat breakdowns.

“Travelling with young kids in the back seat is never easy, and the research and formula highlights the considerations parents will no doubt experience all over the UK this weekend.

“So as well as making sure your tyres are pumped and your oil and water levels are topped up, make sure your passenger levels are regularly replenished, with snacks, pit stops, and entertainment.”