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What should I do next? RE: bus behavior

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello all! Coming out of lurkdom to ask for some advice...


I have a spirited 7yo who's in first grade and is having trouble on the school bus.

He's not new to the school bus or to this school, but he's having a really hard time controlling himself lately.


It started the first week of school when the principal called to tell me that my son wouldn't stay sitting down. So, I talked to my son and we discussed the dangers of distracting the bus driver and all the other kids with his behavior.


After that he was behaving on the bus, but then acting out in class. So, we had another talk and removed some of his priviledges. That seemed to work for the last couple of weeks. I even got a "brag" call from his teacher to tell me how well he's been doing.


Then this past weekend he went on a misbehaving "rampage".  Just general defiance, a lie he got caught in and an incident that resulted in his outside distance restricted and some stricter house rules put in place. He was upset, but seemed generally back to normal. Even the last couple of days at school were decent.


But this morning, even after I gave him a reminder about bus behaviour and that he needed to sit in one of the first three bus seats, I got another call from the school that my son was fighting with another kid and tried to physically lash out. Now, I know this isn't all my son's fault, but he knows better than to put his hands on another kid. I'm dismayed.


I don't know what to do next. I'm a single mom and his daddy lives 700 miles away so I know he's missing him after summer visitation, but DS "says" he's alright about that. Says he knows how visitation works. If I restrict the kid anymore I feel like that would take a backwards approach. And, plus, when he's good on the bus then he has trouble in class, but when he's good in class he has trouble on the bus....so it's not like he's a total problem...he just only seems to have so much allotted behaviour. Lol.


We talk, we play games, we go places. We spend all our weekend time together and whatever time we have after nightly chores is together...it's not like this is stemming from not spending enough time with mom. (*I* don't think).


Does this sound just something all kids drudge through and have to get in trouble for?

Where do I go next with him? He's already been put in school suspension for the day and the next incident would lead to banning him from the bus which I cannot have...as I don't have flexibility to take him everyday.


Thanks for reading all that and any advice ya'll can give!


post #2 of 5

Does he have the same bus driver as last year? My DH is a school bus driver... he doesn't have a specific route he's a spare, so he gets bounced around on several different routes, covering for people whoa re on vacation or sick. He can tell from how the kids behave whether a regular driver is good at keeping them in line or not. I'd try and find out if other kids have been acting up more on the bus this year, of if it's only your DS.


This might be a bit drastic, but I'd inquire as to whether there's a separate special needs bus that goes to DS's school... the special needs busses generally have a driver and an attendant, and a fewer number of kids.


I think it's something that many kids go through... every once in a while my kids suddenly start to challenge ALL the boundaries, like they need to see if they're still there. Sometimes it's an indication that they're ready for a bit more freedom and responsibility (but then the challenge becomes finding somewhere they aren't pushing that you can allow them to grow a bit)

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hmmm, interesting point.


Yes, it's a new driver. It used to be the gym coach that drove them (kind of an old school "crusty" guy - the "you'll run 100 laps if I see you talking" kind of guy) and now it's a middle-aged woman who I don't know overly well.

I hadn't considered that, but it might just be that last year the Coach kept them under tighter "lock and key".


There is actually a special needs bus this year which might be an option. Thanks for that idea...I'll pose it to the principal.

DS might just need to be separated from the other kids for a while and watched closer. Or maybe just letting him know I'm thinking of switching him will open his eyes a little.


Thanks for the ideas....

post #4 of 5

You're welcome!


It's not unheard of for a principal to ride along on the bus to get an idea of what's going on if there are have been problems reported.


I'd be willing to bet that it's at least partly the new driver. Probably a lot of the kids are goofing off, and your DS is just less aware of the line than some of the older kids. The driver might just need to learn some strategies for getting the kids in line... a lot of them won't stop and just try to direct kids as they drive. DH pulls over and gives it his full attention. Usually it only takes once, but if he has to pull over a second time, the kids who are behaving start to pressure the kids who aren't... they want to get home! I wonder if she's new to driving bus, or just new to the school.


When my kids sing "The Wheels on the Bus" the driver says "SIT DOWN!!!"... they love hearing about how the kids on the bus were misbehaving. 

post #5 of 5

My 7 y.o. dd's best friend had a similar problem last year in first grade, although it had nothing to do with missing her father, it was just her ping-pong personality. Like your child, the girl was fine on the bus during kindergarten, but in first grade the problems started and escalated.  And we hadn't even changed bus drivers.  It was becoming a safety issue because the child was jumping up and walking around while the bus was driving, and the driver couldn't concentrate on the road.  She also got into some fights on the bus.  It was just one thing after another. Each day the bus driver would tell her parents about yet another incident. I should mention that this is one of the sweetest, most empathetic girls you'll ever meet, but her personality is such that she really must keep in constant motion.


Mind you, the bus ride is 1.5 hours, one way.  The poor child just didn't have it in her to sit still for the bus ride both ways, plus stay still during the regular school hours. Like your son, she can only sit still and behave for just so long, and asking her to do it beyond the very long regular school hours is just asking too much. It's a lot to ask from such a young child, and first grade is a lot different from K, even all-day K.  Whether or not the other first graders can sit down for the entire bus ride really does not matter. Her parents concluded that they had to find a way that would work for THEIR daughter.


In desperation, after all of the fruitless lectures/talks/discussions/punishments, etc, they decided that they had to figure out a way to keep her occupied during the bus ride.  A book might have worked, but books are bulky, especially for little first graders. So they considered getting her a used iPod Touch, or an inexpensive electronic e-reader from Sony, and loading it with children's e-books for her to read.  They eventually decided to buy her a DS so that she could play games on the bus, even though those things aren't allowed in the school building.  The transformation was like night and day.  All of a sudden, she was calm enough to stay sitting down for the bus ride, and it is no longer a problem.  (She doesn't use the DS for the entire bus ride, or even every day, anymore. My guess is that in a year or so, she won't even need to use it as a crutch.)


I'm probably the last person world who would suggest a handheld electronic game as a remedy, but for my dd's seatmate on the bus, it was the only solution that worked.  For her, it wasn't a matter of punishing the child to get the required behavior.  It was a matter of recognizing her limitations, and finding a way for her to make it easier to comply.

Edited by emilysmama - 9/1/11 at 5:12pm
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