How to predict tantrums from children in cars

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If you ever travel with children in cars, you know there is a risk of tantrums at some point. But how can you predict when they are most likely and, crucially, when they are going to kick in?

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Being able to understand the reasons behind back seat protests from kids is the key to stopping them from happening. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can tell you’re likely to witness tantrums from children in cars.

Tantrums from children in cars – the contributing factors

1. Long journeys

Yes, the longer you are in the car, the more likely your children will kick off. But you can’t really blame them too much can you? No one likes being stuck in one place for a long time, and children are less able to deal with that than adults. Most adults. Kids like to roam free and express themselves, but they can’t do so when they are belted in.

The answer here is to take regular breaks. Even if you just find a playing field and let them run around like wild animals for ten minutes, it can help them release that pent-up energy. Try it yourself. You might like it.

2. Hunger

You know how you get when you’re hungry. Come on, admit it. But your hunger is in your control as an adult. You can nip into the next services and get yourself a fry-up. When you are a hungry child, you can’t just order a Deliveroo driver to pull up alongside and chuck you a burger through the window. You are at the behest of your parents who want to crack on with the journey.

This can make children more irrational than adults. Most adults. So make sure you pack filling snacks that will stop them whining.

3. Boredom

Long journeys are dull. There is no denying it. And kids have a much lower boredom threshold than adults. Most adults. For you in the front, you have to concentrate on driving or on navigating so a long journey doesn’t seem as dull because your mind is active. When you are a child in the back, there is nothing to do once you’ve spotted a hundred red cars. And that is when they start to whine and annoy their siblings.

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. This is what causes children in cars to tantrum to an Olympic level.

Having two siblings travel together can bring on tantrums quicker, Dr suggests
Having two siblings travel together can bring on tantrums quicker, Dr Hind suggests (Alamy/PA)

The car journey tantrum equation

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. After surveying 2,000 parents, he found that the time (T) the average child will typically take to throw a tantrum during a long car journey is 70 minutes.

You can reduce the chances of a tantrum by every minute a child is entertained (E), while food (F) allows parents to delay the tantrum by 15 minutes. However, having siblings (S) in the car increases the chances of backseat breakdowns by 10 minutes. As anyone with more than one kid could have told him.

He also found that he average time for asking “are we nearly there yet?” is 32 minutes into a car journey, and it will happen four times during the road trip.

So, there you are. The science of tantrums from children in cars. Essential research.


How do you deal with car tantrums? Let us know in the Comments below

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