Bad Bus Behavior - Siblings

Updated on November 10, 2009
D.H. asks from Henrico, VA
15 answers

HELP, I have been talking to the bus driver everyday for about two weeks regarding my childrens behavior (I have three riding, 8, 6, and 5, all boys) the 5 year old has been doing fine, its primarily the middle one that I get consistent bad reports (wont stay seated, crawling around on floor, etc.) Today it was the middle and oldest - oldest hitting middle with backpack, throwing backpack across seats, not staying seated, yelling, fighting. The oldest does not like sitting with the middle, but the driver says they behave better that way than apart. I think the oldest is trying to make things worse to make the driver separate them - although he denies it. But he said as much a couple days last week when we said we would not tell the driver to move them. (We figure its her bus to control and if that is what works best for her its up to her). They already lose TV and Video games for bad behavior reports. The oldest is insisting that the driver is lying, that he wasnt hitting his brother with a backpack. This afternoon, I sent them both to their rooms, the middle was in his room, the older and I were still outside talking, he got mad when I sent him to his room (he was denying that he misbehaved and didnt think he should have to go to his room). He informed me he hated me, stormed into the house and went to his room. When I tried to go into the house - the door was locked. I had to get the 5 YO to let me in. The oldest denies locking the door. I really have no doubt that he did, but I didnt see him do it, and he swears he didnt and complains that I never believe him. I told both of them that if I got one more bad report from the driver that they wouldnt have to worry about sitting on the bus - their backsides would be too sore to sit. (I did manage to remain calm through it all so far-even when delivering the threat - but its not over I'm not letting them out of their rooms til dinner is ready and they are both pushing my last buttons!) I dont know what else to do?!?!

Now the next morning...well,first I'll answer a couple questions, Dad is around, he takes them to the bus stop most mornings and I pick them up, he is home before their bedtimes about 2-3 weedays, and all weekend. We definitely show a united front, even if we may have discussions about it in private. Last night was one of those nights where he didnt get home til after bedtime. Daddy is talking with the driver this morning, we really dont think the 8 YO should be trying to get the 6 YO to behave on the bus, which is seemingly what she is hoping for by putting them together. We have difficulty getting the 6 YO to sit still, its way beyond the 8 YO's ability and shouldnt be his responsibility. That said, I don't want it to seem like he got "rewarded" - by not having to sit with brother anymore - for his unacceptable behavior.

Last night got even worse after I posted. 8 YO and I were like oil and water. I managed to stay mostly calm. I even checked him for fever or something, cause sometimes when he's really behaving badly its because he's sick or something - but nothing. He ended up being sent to bed without dinner, after multiple chances to NOT have that as a punishment. He then told me about how he was really hungry cause he had left his lunchbox on the bus yesterday morning and had to buy lunch at school, and he didnt like it so he didnt eat very much of it. (That is plausible, as they have money on their account to buy milk and occasionally lunch). I had already decided I would give him some cereal w/banana in his room for dinner (which I did, and while he ate it he complained the about not getting the dinner I'd fixed -even though while downstairs about to eat it he complained he didnt like or want what I had fixed - while I thought he should have been a little grateful that I had softened enough to bring him any dinner) This morning he informed me, as I was retrieving his lunchbox, that leaving his lunch on the bus was a LIE. He ate his lunch at school as usual. I didn't get angry, I gave him a hug and asked him to come clean about any other things that had happened yesterday (like locking me out of the house), that he had a free pass to come completely clean. He still denied locking the door on me, but eventually said well, he didn't "remember" locking the door.

Daddy talked to the driver, and now the middle is sitting with the youngest right behind her, and the oldest is sitting a few rows back - he did not get to sit with his best friend - and although I think that would help in the long run, it would have been like a reward for yesterday's behavior.

We seem to go through cycles with the 8 YO, he can go quite a while good as gold, and then its like he has lost his mind. That was a pretty serious compound lie he told about forgetting his lunchbox and then not liking the school lunch. He only came clean as I was about to open his lunch box and find it empty. Maybe I need to post that as a separate request!

Some days I just feel like I really suck at this job.

Thanks for all your suggestions - and I did ask the 8 YO this morning if things were going OK with friends at school and teachers and stuff. He said yes, he only has problems here! I'll update and let y'all know if this week goes any better on the bus. Got any suggestions about the lying?

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So What Happened?

Its been a week - and so far so good. The siblings are all separated, and apparently they've finally found a 5th grade girl who can get along with my middle child. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the good behavior continues. Thanks for all the advice!!

Well, I've called the school, and they do have video tapes, the driver has to fill out some discipline form, then transportation reviews it, then if my child is deemed at fault I'd get to view it. They DO NOT allow parents to ride the bus. Ever. I knew this already (although I asked again this morning if I'd get to if there was a discipline concern) as I tried to ride when my oldest started K, cause at that time it was K-12 on the same bus and I thought that was crazy. They claim its for insurance purposes, but parents are not allowed to ride the bus. This year and last it is grades K-5 on the bus, at least I think that's what it is, maybe K-8, but definitely no high schoolers anymore. Knowing about the tape may provide me some leverage with my 8 YO, although when he digs his heels in, I think he'd still stick to his guns and then claim the TAPE was wrong! I'll try coming up with some incentives instead of punishments as some suggested, but my hearts not in that at the moment.

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answers from Washington DC on

Just be aware that if the behavior doesn't change, the boys who are misbehaving could be suspended from the bus or even worse, kicked off the bus and then you will have to drive them. I agree with the other moms and try to reward the positive behavior, even if is is something super small!! That way, hopefully, you can begin to change the behavior from negative to positive. maybe you can drive the oldest to school for a week while the other boys ride the bus, then drive the middle boy to school, etc. That way, you can spend time with each of them, but I would make them earn it (speaking kindly to each other, helping out when needed, etc). Good Luck!!

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answers from Washington DC on

I AGREE with Nessa C. Do the opposite maybe of what you FEEL like doing in a way. Try to spend some time with each of them separately; believe in them ; lay aside all the "you did this and that" awhile. Ask them about other things they are involved in or something? Let them know you are on their side and not just against them together with the bus driver. You are not hear to please the bus driver but rather to be concerned with the well being of your boys. Let the bus driver do what she must. Take your boys word for it (even if you suspect different). We really cant beat our kids into acting or responding to us in the way we would like them too. So........tell them when you are on the bus you have to submit to the driver of the bus and obey the driver while a passenger; if you follow the rules and the driver has no complaints we will......da da da (SOMETHING THEY LIKE) like go get an ice cream OR visit somewhere special?? Something that will give you some unpressured time together. Buy a new video game or WHATEVER they are into. And last of all you just have to get the book .."Making your children mind without losing yours" by Kevin Leman. It is SO very helpful and practical. OH yes...and pray (first). YOu would be amazed what a bit of prayer will do.
God Bless

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answers from Dover on

Middle children tend to act up because they are the middle is a way to guarantee getting attention. The other to get it because they are the oldest and the baby. Of course he wants to sit with the oldest (it's his big brother) and of course the oldest doesn't want his little brother sitting with him. I think the driver should separate least sometimes. That gets both what they want some of the time and will hopefully encourage good behavior. Maybe alternate each week (if the driver will go for it).

Review the tape...I do not envy a bus driver because I wouldn't want their job for anything in the world but some shouldn't be a driver for children (I know I should be and am not). I have had one give a false report on my son before and the tape is how we were able to clear it up. Not that it cleared him (you couldn't see if he did it or not) but the driver had claimed that she viewed the tape to be sure and knew it was him. I insisted on seeing the tape so the principal viewed it first. Needless to say, he was not in trouble. I would suggest that you make it clear to both children that if you go to bat for them and the tape shows they not only did it but are lying to you that the consequences will be more severe AND follow through it they are lying.

I also agree that they sound like they need some quality one on one time with mom and/or dad.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm sure that he is doing the things you say he is. My 6 yo can somehow sneakily hit, pinch, trip, etc her brother and as soon as I am looking look like the picture of innocence "I don't know why he is crying, I didn't do it." Is there something that your sons really value? How long are they losing the TV and video games? an hour or a week? I would take them a way longer. Also get a behavour chart, giving a sticker or star each day that adds up to something they do want to earn by being good.

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answers from Washington DC on

If you want to see exactly what is happening on the bus, ask to see the tape. They have it, I'm sure.
Talk to your Principal - chances are he/she can squelch any bad bus behavior.
They can end up not being able to ride the bus... I don't know how far you live from the school, but I'm 20 miles from ours.

My children have one rule that goes above all others when they are outside the home: Don't shame your mother. They can disagree, but they MUST behave and be kind to each other until they get home. Then, they can vent or give the silent treatment or whatever. Normally I don't have issues with them outside the house.

We also have a sibling constitution that they wrote themselves - it's a series of 10 rules. The first rule is to be kind to each other. Their words - not mine. I typed it up and hung it where they can see it every day.

Good Luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

Although this may sound bad---you have threatened to make their "backsides too sore to sit"; so do it. Threatening and not following through is what is making them "push your buttons". I used to have a set of wooden spoons. They got their choice of mom, dad, or baby and I would give l hit on the backside (which usually hurt me more than them).

They knew, no matter what, that I would follow through. If they do have a good ride and you've promised something; make sure you carry through on that. This is a problem, parents threaten, but don't carry out.

I thoroughly disagree with the mom who says, "tell the teachers at school". Having been a teacher for 40 years, and knowing what kids are like today; the last thing teachers have time for is disciplining for something that should be dealt with at home or on the bus.

I agree with the other mom, "what does your husband say about this?" My hubby was absent, most of my 3 sons lives, so I had to deal with most things alone. A man's perspective and spending time with the boys for being good on the bus would be great! Sitting down as a family and having weekly chats would be even better!
Grandma N.

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi D.,

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time with your boys, and it definitely sounds like something is up with your oldest son. It sounds like he might need some extra attention from you. Sometimes even negative attention is craved by a child, rather than nothing. I'm sure you give him lots of love and care as his mom, but maybe he needs some extra time with you, for whatever reasons.

If it is usually the middle child who acts up, maybe the oldest sees that he is getting more attention, and so he takes this as a cue to act up himself. Lying about his behaviour and locking you out of the house sound like clear cries for help as well. I don't know for sure, and I could be wrong, but that is just my feeling from what you've written.

I wonder if you can find a way to stop with the punishments for now, and just talk to your oldest child (and middle one) about things. Don't judge or say that you believe the bus driver over them. The driver is just driving, and maybe she doesn't catch everything in terms of the dynamics on the bus. Children sometimes see a situation very differently from an adult (or another child in a conflict), and it doesn't mean they are wrong. Tell your sons that you love them, you are on their side, and that you are just concerned for their safety on their ride home.

Ask them if there is anything bothering them. If they are acting up so much, maybe something is going on at school, or maybe they need to talk about more that is going on in their lives. They are at very formative ages, and will need some guidance and help from you. Whatever you do, show them that you are calm and in charge, not with punishments, but with clear expectations for them to follow so they can stay safe and healthy, too.



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answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like you have your hands full with three boys... God bless you! Since punishment doesn't seem to work in this situation, maybe you should try a reward system. Give them extra 15 minutes of video or TV time for the days that they behave on the bus. It may be a better incentive. Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

Ah yes---the school bus---bane of everyone's existence for sure! In this case, does each child have a friend on the bus? Do the oldest kids always sit in the back (an unspoken rule that is usual on most of these buses)? What is the age range on the bus? Kindergarten to third grade, which would make your 8 year old nearly the oldest? or a bigger range like K-8? Depending on answers to these questions, perhaps you could start with "assigning" them seats with friends. If this failed by bus driver report only, then if only one child was unable to contend, that one could be assigned a seat by the driver, let's say your middle son, and the youngest would sit mid-bus and the older farther away WITH a friend. It is a tough problem to handle b/c once a driver decides specific kids are at fault, they always get blamed. We had a son severely bullied by very clever kids on a bus and it was only him who was spotted being less clever in his response or 'payback'. You do run the real risk of your kids (some or all) not being allowed on the bus and you will need to transport them. Being a driver of these busses is a complete nightmare, and it is a wonder that they are as safe as records seem to indicate. If there is a bus surveillance tape, watch it; if not, you are allowed to ride as well to observe. You may need to contact the County transportation division if the driver balks at either of these suggestions. But we always told our children that safety for EVERYONE on the bus was the most important goal of their ride, so we would tolerate no reports of acting up on their parts either. The bullied one was placed near the driver for awhile; we explained for HIS benefit. Though he was taunted for that as well, he was not thrown off the bus, and meanwhile one of his primary attackers was denied transport during the time the boy had to shift his attentions to someone else that week of assigned seating for our son! That "lesson" seemed to help all action on the bus and the year settled down for the most part for our son. But being made to sit with a same gender sibling is a bad idea. I would start with assigned seats for each with a friend, a stiff last warning, and a bribe for week's end---a Friday afternoon treat! <grin> Good luck.

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answers from Macon on

give them 3 warnings if not better tell thechers at school


answers from Norfolk on

They've had their warnings. Bad behavior on the bus is distracting to the driver, and just the horsing around could increase chance of injury to themselves and everyone around them. Rewards for good behaviors, loss of privileges for bad behavior, and locking you out of the house is outrageous and unacceptable. Keep a key on you at all times, or hide a spare key somewhere in the yard. What is their father's response to all this? On the bus, I would think a divide and conquer approach might work. All of them can sit with someone else, and if the trouble continues, then they are just fighting with anyone for the sake of it. If they get banned from the bus, you are going to have to drive them in and pick them up yourself.



answers from Richmond on

first take your house keys with you every time you go outside, next thing to do is to inform this eight year old that you are taking away his tv, x box, whatever till he can figure out how to behave himself give it a month and add a week to it everytime he locks you out, shoves his brother or just generally misbehaves, see what he really wants, is for you to have to drive him to school, so he will be getting something his brothers arent getting. he is manipulating you.take a step back, reasses the situation with him, and refuse to treat him any differently then his brothers. dont tolerate the lying, dont tolerate the shoving and the whining and the next time he locks you out, call the most expense locksmith
you can find to let you in the house, then make him pay the bill. as for the fights on the bus, take him to the
childrens ward in the local hospital, so he can see what
happens to a childs body in a wreak, its not pretty.
sounds extreme?? but far better than planning a funeral
K. h.



answers from Washington DC on

you dont suck they are human and so are you.

they are testing you and your boundries and what you will except.

so keep strong show them the right way, show them that you care enough to be an authority.

you go girl, be the positive role in thier life.



answers from Washington DC on

Trying enrolling them in martial arts. It teaches discipline, respect for adults and calms them down.



answers from Washington DC on

You said he goes through cycles, is this cycle in hours, days, weeks or months. There are many stressors on children, including siblings, but some are from their own bodies. I would track to see how longe the "good as gold" is and how lng the "I'm ready to spit nails" is. Then talk it over with your pediatrician, there may be something else going too.
The fact that he said "I hate YOu" shows that you are a caring MOm, and good at this job. MY normal response is, "I still Love You".
Don't forget about ever present, "I'm the oldest and I can do stuff that you can't", and the "Let's see who can get Mom the most angry", they are still games played by children all over the world.
You could always record these tirades for payback time when they have kids of their own.

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