HomeTravelThere’s a math formula for when kids will have tantrums on an airplane — here’s how to prevent them
There’s a math formula for when kids will have tantrums on an airplane — here’s how to prevent them
October 23, 2023
It’s the cry-baby formula.
Tired of receiving death stares — or even tongue-lashings — from fellow flyers over your crying baby?
Not to fear: A UK mathematician has devised a scientific equation that he claims can predict when a tot’s going to have a mile-high meltdown.
“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” — considerably — according to Dr. Tom Crawford, an applied mathematics professor at Oxford University.
The freakout formula, a methodology revealed to credit broker Asda Money, comes after a new study by the firm found that children are most likely to have a tantrum 27 minutes and 48 seconds into a flight.
Meanwhile, each fit reportedly lasts 15 minutes and 6 seconds on average, per the research.
And while that might not seem too long for a seasoned parent, it can feel like an eternity in the unfriendly skies.
Fortunately, Crawford has devised a formula for this emotional explosion so that parents can make sure it doesn’t go off at 30,000 feet.
Stay with him here.
For the laypeople, the arithmetic whiz took the most common tantrum triggers — sleepiness (S), boredom (B), hunger (H) and noise (N) — and scored each from zero to 10, with zero indicating that the issue is being ignored while 10 signifies that the parent has quelled it.
Crawford explained that if all four crying catalysts receive a 10, meaning they’re addressed, the parent can delay a tantrum by 129 minutes.
That’s an hour and a half of fit-free flying — the length of many short-haul flights around the US.
And it turns out that other passengers aren’t the only ones potentially scared about an onslaught of screeching.
Asda points out that the fear of fits is so paralyzing that 63% of parents admit to feeling stressed about the prospect of traveling, while 26% percent of British guardians would rather have lunch with their in-laws than fly with their progeny.
Meanwhile, 35% of parents have even chosen less convenient modes of transit such as buses, ferries and even trains to avoid being subjected to tantrum-induced anxiety.
So, how does one mathematically mitigate the chances of a meltdown?
“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,” Crawford explains.
“On top of this, they will need to set aside 19 minutes to enjoy snacks … to prevent hunger and, finally, omit noise through music or reading that is reported to preoccupy kids for 14 minutes,” the mathematician added.
Here’s hoping the tantrum-quelling techniques will help parents and passengers alike feel more comfortable in flight.
This is perhaps especially important at a time when many flyers don’t seem to recognize that babies, crying or not, are part and parcel of flying the friendly — if oft-frantic — skies.
In April, a passenger was shamed after ironically throwing a tantrum over a tot’s tantrum on a stalled flight to Orlando, Florida.