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How Do I handle kindergarten bus incident?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

My son came off the bus upset today... according to him, another boy on the bus who he has known for several years and often sits with on the bus was hitting him on the way home and hurting him. He said he tried to get out of the seat to sit alone somewhere else but the boy wouldn't let him.

 

There was another time some weeks or months ago something similar happened with the same boy, and I let it go because my son said he enjoyed it and it sounded like they were mutually participating (they were "play fighting" with each other I think.) Although I was a bit concerned the way he described it, I just let it go and it hasn't come up again.

 

However.. what do I do now? He was not happy this time and was upset, he wanted to get out and sit in another seat and the boy wouldn't let him and kept hitting him.. they are both in Kindergarten. Should I write a note to the bus driver?  Call the other kids mom? (we're friends) or do both or neither?  What should I tell my son?

 

I don't want to make a huge deal of it, but I want to stop it before it gets to the point of bullying or physical injury and I don't want to let my son down by doing nothing.. I want him to know he can come to me and tell me stuff.. When I was in 3rd I was bullied in my seat by 2 girls two years older than me, and I never told anyone. They physically hurt me every day the entire school year for part of the way to school.  I never told anyone, so I don't blame anyone for not helping me, but I would have probably felt worse if I had told someone who end up doing nothing about it, which is probably why I never did.

 

I also don't want to damage my sons relationship with the other boy because they do get along sometimes, he's known him for a few years.

 

What would you do if it was your son?

post #2 of 44

I would tell the bus driver that there was a problem with the other boy (no details) and ask that they be kept separated.

post #3 of 44

I would ALSO call or email the principal of the school (with ALL of the details), and ask the principal how he/she will be handling it.  Riding the bus is a privilege, not a right, and the children on the bus are subject to the same rules and consequences as if they were in the school building. I'm sure the principal won't make a big deal about it, but he/she does need to know what is going on in order to handle it effectively. Telling the principal won't make it a big deal.  The principal should know how to handle it in a way that it never grows bigger and becomes a big deal.  A few gentle but firm words from the principal to the child at school is all that is needed to do the trick.  I wouldn't bring it up with the other parent at this stage because that would be overkill.  The kid is in kindergarten and probably just needs a quick reminder from the principal that school rules apply on the bus. I was bullied when I was a kid too, and if it were me, I'd still want my mom to call the principal for this kind of situation.


Edited by emilysmama - 1/10/14 at 11:36am
post #4 of 44

I would tell my son that he is NOT to sit next to the boy on the bus again. He needs to stay away from mean people. As long as he CHOOSES to put himself in positions where the same kid keeps hitting him, there isn't anything anyone can do for him. Teach him to tell the other boy "I don't want to sit by you on the bus because you are mean to me on the bus."

 

Your son isn't being bullied, he isn't a victim. He is making choices about what happens to him. He has a big responsibility for how he is treated.

 

Is this other boy's behavior a problems only on the bus, or also at other times? The bus is difficult because it is not well supervised and the kids don't have anything to do but bug each other.

 

I would let his teacher, not the principal, know. This is a low level problem -- a problem between 2 friends, where sometimes he is fine with it and sometimes he isn't. The teacher should know to help avoid to help avoid the problem in the future.

 

 

 

post #5 of 44
Even if the boys are usually friends, they can have problems negotiating physical play, and benefit from adult intervention. I would absolutely contact tye teacher and the principal, and explain the situation. Because of issues like this, many school districts try to have adult monitors on each bus.

I find Linda's suggestion really problematic here. Yes, it would be great if the OP's son chose to simply avoid the other boy, but I remember how hard it is to avoid someone on a school bus. It's not a situation in which a child who wants to be left alone has a lot of control. I also worry that the language suggested has the potential to leave the kid high and dry in case of future bullying and abuse. Kid may be a contributor to the problems in this situation, but he needs to be heard and considered, and offered better strategies. Blaming him and insisting he controls this all himself is nuts.
post #6 of 44

At this point I would just tell my son he needs to sit with someone else on the bus. The best way to bullyproof your child is to give him the tools and the authority to deal with problems himself. Yes he is only 5 so more complex self advocacy is probably out of his ability level. However, even at 5 he can easily choose to sit with someone else and politely explain to the other boy that he doesn't want to sit with him.

 

I honestly wouldn't even bring anyone else into it until you've allowed you son the opportunity to stand up for himself. At this point all I'd do is document it in case you do need to address this with someone else in the future. But right now I wouldn't do much more than coach you son on how to assert  himself and tell him to sit elsewhere. 


Edited by JollyGG - 1/10/14 at 9:24pm
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

It's not a situation in which a child who wants to be left alone has a lot of control.

If a kid wants to be left alone on the bus, he can make a choice to sit next to someone who will leave him alone. Repeatedly choosing to sit next to some one who hits you is not a good choice.

 

Because you keep getting hit. 

 

I think we should be honest with our kids that they have the POWER to make choices that improve things for themselves. Keeping that a secret is kinda mean. Looking at a situation and helping them figure out what they could do different next time isn't "blaming," it's teaching them that they have some control over what happens to them, which they do. Heck, isn't that a key parent of raising a child? Helping them figure out what they can do to get the results they want in their lives?

post #8 of 44
I would absolutely tell my own kid to sit with someone else on the bus. I'm not going around telling my kids they're powerless. But it's ALSO cruel to pretend that kids have total control over school related situations. Asking a grown-up for help is one way a kid can seek control, and sourcing help is an important skill.

I have this memory of the school bus that seems to be pretty common. On the morning bus in, someone, let's call her Jenny, was mean to me. I didn't say anything because the bus driver frowns on tattling (he's trying to drive), and when we got to school, i was distracted. I don't want to sit with Jenny, but my class gets to the bus first, and my classmates who live on my bus route are boys. Or there's an odd number of them and I'm odd girl out today. My sometimes friend Jessica also rides this bus, but she's in Jenny's class, and today she is behind jenny in line. Or she wants to sit with her cousin Jade. I get on the bus like I'm supposed to, and take a seat. Then Jenny's class gets on. Jenny takes the other half of my seat.

At this point, I can try a bunch of things. I can tell Jenny I don't want to sit with her. I can tell Jenny I'm saving this seat for Jessica. I can insist I need to sit alone. The results, however, are always the same. The uninformed adult in charge tells me to sit where I am and let Jenny sit next to me. We don't save seats, jessica is sitting over there with Jade, Jenny can sit next to me, why can't I be nice. My protests that Jenny was mean to me this morning are met with eye rolling, and the suggestion that I should have said something in the morning (who I should have spoken to is not specified). My actual effective options for not sitting with Jenny (given that I am 5) are: fight with Jenny so badly that the adults decree we can never sit together (although, ideally, not so badly that they suspend me from school or bus), or go home and tell my troubles to an adult who takes me seriously and can call up the school and say, hey, I'm not sure exactly what's up with the girls, but please tell the bus drivers not to make Meep sit with Jenny, they seem to have hit a rough patch.
post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

I would absolutely tell my own kid to sit with someone else on the bus. I'm not going around telling my kids they're powerless. But it's ALSO cruel to pretend that kids have total control over school related situations. Asking a grown-up for help is one way a kid can seek control, and sourcing help is an important skill.

I have this memory of the school bus that seems to be pretty common. On the morning bus in, someone, let's call her Jenny, was mean to me. I didn't say anything because the bus driver frowns on tattling (he's trying to drive), and when we got to school, i was distracted. I don't want to sit with Jenny, but my class gets to the bus first, and my classmates who live on my bus route are boys. Or there's an odd number of them and I'm odd girl out today. My sometimes friend Jessica also rides this bus, but she's in Jenny's class, and today she is behind jenny in line. Or she wants to sit with her cousin Jade. I get on the bus like I'm supposed to, and take a seat. Then Jenny's class gets on. Jenny takes the other half of my seat.

At this point, I can try a bunch of things. I can tell Jenny I don't want to sit with her. I can tell Jenny I'm saving this seat for Jessica. I can insist I need to sit alone. The results, however, are always the same. The uninformed adult in charge tells me to sit where I am and let Jenny sit next to me. We don't save seats, jessica is sitting over there with Jade, Jenny can sit next to me, why can't I be nice. My protests that Jenny was mean to me this morning are met with eye rolling, and the suggestion that I should have said something in the morning (who I should have spoken to is not specified). My actual effective options for not sitting with Jenny (given that I am 5) are: fight with Jenny so badly that the adults decree we can never sit together (although, ideally, not so badly that they suspend me from school or bus), or go home and tell my troubles to an adult who takes me seriously and can call up the school and say, hey, I'm not sure exactly what's up with the girls, but please tell the bus drivers not to make Meep sit with Jenny, they seem to have hit a rough patch.

What you describe could very well be what ultimately would go down. However, I think the simple solution of don't sit with the person who was mean to you and coaching on how to make that happen should be the very first step. Only after my child came home and said that solution hadn't worked would I involve the bus driver, teacher or principle. I believe it's important to try the simplest and most empowering solutions first. Then move on to other more intrusive interventions only once it's actually proven necessary.

post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post

What you describe could very well be what ultimately would go down. However, I think the simple solution of don't sit with the person who was mean to you and coaching on how to make that happen should be the very first step. Only after my child came home and said that solution hadn't worked would I involve the bus driver, teacher or principle. I believe it's important to try the simplest and most empowering solutions first. Then move on to other more intrusive interventions only once it's actually proven necessary.

The kid in this case has already had a try at telling the kid who hit him that he wants to sit somewhere else. It doesn't seem to have had the desired effect.

I love it when my kids feel empowered, and I don't remotely think that's achieved by telling them that they're responsible for things other people do to them. That's victim-blaming BS. If a kid comes to me for help, I empower them by listening carefully, taking them seriously, and discussing alternatives. I love it when the solutions are simple and kid-driven, but I recognize that if the solution fit that description, my kid probably wouldn't be asking my help.
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post


The kid in this case has already had a try at telling the kid who hit him that he wants to sit somewhere else. It doesn't seem to have had the desired effect.

I love it when my kids feel empowered, and I don't remotely think that's achieved by telling them that they're responsible for things other people do to them.

 

He already was sitting next to the kid, so he hasn't yet tried just sitting next to someone else.

 

As far as victim blaming, these are two friends who play fight and are too young to control it (older boys play fight without hurting each other). Part of the reason I think the teacher is the right person to talk to, and not the principal, is because I'm curious if they get in trouble for play fighting at other times. This isn't a bully/victim situation because the kids have equal power. What the mom tells her son about this could have a real impact on his life though. She could teach him to set boundaries and make choices for himself, or she could teach him that he is powerless.  Teaching him to make better choices is Plan A.

 

I agree that there might be a need for a Plan B, but skipping Plan A is not in the child's best interests. We all make lots of little choices that impact our life. This is not a roller coast that we got on and have no control over. He is in the drivers seat of his life, and he needs to KNOW it. He can learn from this experience.

post #12 of 44
Thread Starter 

Just a brief update. My son was real adamant about not involving the bus driver or the kids mom, although on the day it happened, he did say I could call his mom (we briefly discussed it) just not tell the bus driver.  Next morning he did not want me to do either one.. I was a little unsure what to do as I was afraid if I went against his wishes he'd never tell me anything again. He didn't think the boy would do it again that day, as in his words, "he only hit me 3 or 4 times" (the entire year) so its something that happens infrequently compared to how often they sit together... I don't know how often they sit together, or even if they have assigned seats. I was under the impression the other boy sat with his cousin on the way to school and my son on the way home but I'm not sure now.. So basically I've done nothing.  Thankfully, he did not him him on Friday, and they sat together (so my sons hunch was right). 

 

The day it happened my son had been sitting by the window, so couldn't get out.. and going to school my son gets on first and sits by window, so even if he doesn't want the other boy to sit with him, he could still get on with him. (I guess I could tell him just don't move over for him or sit on the end not by the window)  .. I think there have been some good suggestions here, I'm going to come back to them a few more times and use some of the suggestions to help him know he has a choice about things and see how things go this week. He does not make friends quickly though, I think its the only other person on the bus he knows well, and so his choice is either sit alone or with him. (assuming he has a choice, I meant to ask the bus driver if they have assigned seats and forgot) - another thing that doesn't help matters, the afternoon driver is usually a different one from the morning driver, although not always. Sometimes the morning one does both.

 

Just a curiosity, do they have cameras on school bus these days? I remember reading something like that once some years ago, I know things have changed a lot I haven't been on a bus in decades I wasn't even sure if they had seat belts until my son went, and I guess they still don't!

post #13 of 44

If your son gets in first, can you advise him to sit in the very front? 

 

My now 12 year old never play hit so this is a difficult thing for me to weigh in on so I'll stay out of that part. 

 

My DC does tend to confide in me and, like you, I ask if she wants advice or if she wants help. There have been a couple of occasions where I told my DC that what she told me was severe enough that I felt I had to talk to a teacher. I think my DC kind of got the distinction between being able to confide in me but also understood when an adult feels they must make a decision to protect a child, which overrides parent/child confidentially. Sometimes taking the ambiguity out of it can be comforting for kids. 

 

Another thought, which is to do at thought experiment with your son. Ask him to imagine being the observer. Or ask him to tell you how you think you and he would take action if it weren't him being hit. In this case, if my DC came home and said that they saw kindergartner being hit to the point of pain and prevented from moving from his seat, I think I would advise him to say something to someone. 

 

Oh...one more thought... If you decide to talk to the other mom, there is always the option of putting both kids in the action. You don't have to say, "Your son is hitting my child."  You can say that they have been roughhousing on the bus and that you know your son likes it sometimes but that he told you that he also gets scared sometimes. If they both play fight and one has trouble reading when it's getting to be too much -- this is a totally acceptable conversation. No child needs to be labeled a bully. No child needs to get "in trouble". Just a problem to fix, yk?  

 

I also really agree with embracing these challenges as teachable moments. I also agree that this is not an either/or thing. 

post #14 of 44
I taught my dd to loudly and firmly say "don't hit me" in situations like that. I wouldn't call the other parent in this situation because it most likely isn't one sided and the teacher can probably give a more objective opinion of what goes on between the two. The other mom will probably have a list of things your child has done to hers and it could make this very little issue very big and unpleasant.
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmum35 View Post
 

Just a brief update. My son was real adamant about not involving the bus driver or the kids mom, although on the day it happened, he did say I could call his mom (we briefly discussed it) just not tell the bus driver.  Next morning he did not want me to do either one..

I am also in PA and it's really up to each district, some even have bus rider (adults) on some of the busses.

 

What really stood out to me was how you child doesn't want the driver to know - WHY is that? Is he afraid of how the driver will treat him? That would really worry me a whole lot more. This adult should know what is going on-IMO and so should his teacher, regardless how serious this issue is with who hit etc. Your DS not wanting to tell the driver IMO is a real concern here.

post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmum35 View Post
 He does not make friends quickly though, I think its the only other person on the bus he knows well, and so his choice is either sit alone or with him. (assuming he has a choice, I meant to ask the bus driver if they have assigned seats and forgot) -
 

 

secret option -- sit with someone new and talk to them and make a new friend. Validating to your son that he doesn't have anyone else to sit with right now, so he never will, isn't helpful to him. It is another thing in his life that he has the power to change.

 

Is there enough space on his bus for him to have a seat all to himself? That is super uncommon here in elementary school.

 

I would ask what the seating rules are -- our elementary buses require K to sit in the front with just each other. Grades 1-3 sit in the middle of the bus, and grades 4-5 sit in the back. They do not have assigned seats.

 

I work at a school and some days I meet the buses, greet the kids, and am the go between for any issues brought up by the drivers or kids and the school. I don't find it odd that he doesn't want to involve adults, that is normal. What I find odd is that the kids sitting around them on the bus didn't try to put a stop to it or report the behavior to an adult because that would be the norm at our school -- if a child was hitting or threatening another student on the bus on the way TO school, I would most likely hear about from the kids sitting behind them on the bus.

 

For the record, at our school, both students would speak to our Behavior Intervention Monitor, who would try to get to the bottom of exactly what happened (seldom is the version of events told by one student the WHOLE truth). She would then decide what to do next. If your son was play fighting, he would be in trouble too. Play fighting isn't allowed at our school or on the buses, because it often ends exactly as described in your first post. The other student might end up with a "bus referral," which is a warning that if this type of behavior reoccurs, they will be kicked off the bus for the rest of the year.

 

I suspect that if your son doesn't change SOMETHING, this whole thing will play out again.

post #17 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post
 

I am also in PA and it's really up to each district, some even have bus rider (adults) on some of the busses.

 

What really stood out to me was how you child doesn't want the driver to know - WHY is that? Is he afraid of how the driver will treat him? That would really worry me a whole lot more. This adult should know what is going on-IMO and so should his teacher, regardless how serious this issue is with who hit etc. Your DS not wanting to tell the driver IMO is a real concern here.

 

Well, he has social anxiety and any attention drawn to himself makes him uncomfortable. He would be anxious at simply being spoken to directly by the bus driver, so thats most likely why he didn't want me to involve the driver, I don't think either one would handle it badly, then again, I've never rode his bus!

 

I was under the impression there was plenty of seats, even if he sat alone, although thats a good question, I'll want to find out how many kids on his bus, most looks empty to me..  how many seats is there in a bus?

 

His bus is only through 2nd grade, and I've noticed he typically sits in the same seat each time (which is near the back) - maybe 4th from the back. He probably doesn't choose seats near the front because those have some kids already, not all of them, but I think he goes for a section that is least populated.


A bus rider adult or monitor sounds like a good idea. I never heard of that, but it makes sense to have one, I'm sure it comes down to money.

 

It never would have occurred to me, to involve his teacher, but as the boy is in his class in school maybe thats the best idea.  Maybe I should write a note explaining they sometimes play fight on the bus, and it has occasionally gotten out of hand, do you think she would address that with them in school, or refer me back to the bus driver? I'm thinking she's just say, tell the bus driver! lol 

post #18 of 44
I feel the bus driver MUST be told! It is a safety issue - IMO play or not if something happened it would be the driver who could be distracted not knowing what is really going on.

In my area of PA the school would insist the driver be brought into this conversation.


Please let the teacher know as well. Good luck.
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
 

 

 

 

 What I find odd is that the kids sitting around them on the bus didn't try to put a stop to it or report the behavior to an adult because that would be the norm at our school -- if a child was hitting or threatening another student on the bus on the way TO school, I would most likely hear about from the kids sitting behind them on the bus.

 

If your son was play fighting, he would be in trouble too.

I suspect that if your son doesn't change SOMETHING, this whole thing will play out again.

 

i find it odd, that throughout your responses, you repeatedly put the onus of this boy's misbehavior on the OP's son. at such an young age, not many kids gets involved in others' fights on the bus. if he would punch back after such provocation, instead of the instigator, he gets into trouble. that's rich! what do you have to say about the kid who hits him? he gets a free pass while the OP's son has to "change SOMETHING"?

post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmum35 View Post

 

It never would have occurred to me, to involve his teacher, but as the boy is in his class in school maybe thats the best idea.  Maybe I should write a note explaining they sometimes play fight on the bus, and it has occasionally gotten out of hand, do you think she would address that with them in school, or refer me back to the bus driver? I'm thinking she's just say, tell the bus driver! lol 

My guess is that it just depends... :-)   In my DC's small K-5 one normally went to the principal for everything that didn't specifically relate to class with a specific teacher.

 

Another voice of encouragement for you to involve the principal or teacher is that this is only kindergarten. If handled well (which one should be able to expect) this situation can help set the stage for your child understanding that the adults in his school are there to help and there is no big drama about reaching out in that way. 

 

IMO, there is no reason for either child to get in trouble and this is a great opportunity for two very young children to have the adults in their lives help them understand when roughhousing is appropriate and when it isn't. 

 

This is the reason why I would go to and educator rather than the bus driver. I don't know how much child development training a bus driver gets but my guess is that it's considerably less than teachers or principals. 

 

I like your simple, non-judgmental phrasing, btw. I think a quick note to someone at school is a good way to go with maybe a mention that your son does not want a big deal made of it. Leave the "how to's" to the school for how to best handle it. There is no way that this is new territory for them. 

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