This Mathematician Came Up With A Formula To Banish Tantrums On Flights

We'll try anything, tbh...

Tantrums are tough to deal with, for all involved: your child is completely overwhelmed by their emotions, meanwhile you’re completely overwhelmed by the inability to help them calm down.

And when those fits of rage happen in public. Well... Whew. You might get biffed in the face by a tiny fist, you might have to carry them out of a store in the ‘surfboard pose’ as their tiny face goes a shade not too dissimilar to beetroot.

So, needless to say our interest was piqued when we heard that Dr Tom Crawford, a mathematician of Oxford University, had come up with a formula to help banish tantrums – or at the very least keep them at bay for a bit longer.

The expert worked with Asda Money to devise the formula in the hopes it’ll help parents travelling on flights this half-term. After all, tantrums on planes are another level of hard to manage – you can’t exactly eject yourself from the situation with your screaming child in tow.

Research by Asda suggests children are, on average, most likely to have a tantrum 27 minutes and 48 seconds into a flight – with each tantrum lasting around 15 minutes.

It’s perhaps not surprising then that nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents admit to feeling anxious about the prospect of travelling with their children, with a third saying they feel stressed (33%), embarrassed (20%) and anxious (15%) when their child throws an in-cabin wobbly.

In fact, one in eight (12%) parents confessed they’d rather go through a break-up than have to deal with a tantrum on a flight. Pretty extreme but no judgement here. We get it.

So what’s this formula then?

Dr Tom Crawford’s formula provides a method to calculate the amount of time (T) until a tantrum is expected to occur during a flight – the idea being that you can then delay the inevitable, so it doesn’t happen mid-air.

It takes into consideration the most reported ways of managing an outburst to prevent a tantrum for the duration of an average short haul flight to Europe from the UK.

The formula for a tantrum-free flight.
Asda Money
The formula for a tantrum-free flight.

According to parents, the most common triggers of a tantrum are sleepiness (S), boredom (B), hunger (H) and noise (N).

Each has been scored from zero to 10, with zero meaning the issue is being ignored and 10 meaning the issue is being managed successfully.

Dr Tom Crawford said: “If all four of the main causes of a tantrum are addressed, meaning they score 10, the average time until a tantrum occurs on a flight can be increased to 129 minutes, which is almost five times more than the expected time until a tantrum without any intervention.

“This means parents will have a tantrum-free journey for flights under 129 minutes, which covers many short haul flights to Europe that families will be taking during half term.”

Umm, ok? So how do I score 10?

Dr Crawford explained that to score 10 and effectively address the four main tantrum triggers, parents need to ensure children are taking a nap for 37 minutes (to conquer sleepiness) and will need to prevent boredom by either drawing, watching movies or giving their child a tablet or phone, which is reported to entertain them for 31 minutes.

The mathematician suggested they’ll also need to set aside 19 minutes for snack time and 14 minutes of reading or listening to music to handle the noise element.

Whether it works or not is yet to be determined as every child is different. But if you’re set to jet off with little ones in tow any time soon, surely it has to be worth a shot?

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