My child is terrified of riding the school bus. - FamilyEducation
My child is terrified of riding the school bus.
10/23/2007 at 06:58 AM

Hi! I am a first time visitor to this site, as well as a first time Mom of a 6 year old boy named Jonathan. My problem is that I cannot get him to ride the school bus. It picks him up and drops him off right in front of our house, but anytime I mention riding the bus, he starts to cry, beg and plead not to made to ride it.

   I have to admit, he hasn't had a very positive experience with it.  He just started Kindergarten, and I drove him to school and picked him up for the first month. Then I asked him to ride the bus. The first time he did, not only was he denied a seat by a bully, but the bus driver forgot to drop him off and went two miles past his house. I certainly understand his fears. I don't want to force him, but my husband says I am babying him by giving in to his begging to be driven. I don' t know what to do! I don't mind driving him, it is the cost of gas that is the problem. You have to wait in line for 45 minutes to pick them up at school, then it is a 15 minute drive. Maybe I should just drop it and wait until he is older? Or am I indeed coddling him? This is causing a lot of friction between my husband and myself. Please help!!!!!


I agree with what the other posters have said.  I think your son has legitimate reasons for his fear of riding the bus, so your husband is being a bit hard in this if he doesn't think you need to find ways to ease his son's stress about this.


This is his first year at school, and you want it to be a positive experience all around.  And you want your son to feel you and Dad are there, giving him loving support; you don't want him feeling like you are just dismissing his concerns. 


If the other posters' suggestions about riding the bus don't work out, is there someone you can carpool with since you are concerned about the cost of gas?






I have a definite opinion on this, but I'll try to be gentle and tell a few stories to make it not feel so harsh.

Firstly, the child development department at Yale put out a book a few  years ago that said that not all 5 year-olds are developmentally at the same place.  The authors even suggested that a 4 day school week would be more effective than a 5 day school week. 

Secondly, I just talked last week to an 11 year-old who is having some difficulty at school this year, and for her this is the first time EVER that she has had such difficulty.  I actually heard her mother say "If it wasn't for the physical symptoms, we would just have her work through it, we wouldn't have taken it up with the principal."  The physical symptoms are symptoms of an ulcer.  11 year old diagnosed with a stomach ulcer.  Think about it.  Would it not have been simpler to intervene BEFORE the stress wore a hole in the kid's intestines?

Now for the harsh part.  It is your husband's job to protect his family.  Maybe he could take just one day to ride the bus with the boy.  Maybe when the bully and the negligent bus driver see that this boy has a real live dad, they'll be a little more careful about who gets picked on and ignored.  I think it would very likely make the bus a more comfortable place for a kid who is, after all, just 5 years old. 

If your husband isn't man enough to do that,  gas is a lot less expensive than ulcer medication and psycho- therapy. 


ow! go girl!!

Tiff...your son's fears are real and well founded.  until they are allieviated, making him ride the bus will be completely counterproductive to your husband's manly goals for his son...find a way...if hubby is too self-rightous to ride the bus with the boy, follow the bus. let this little boy know that you are there for him and with him. help him relearn this skill with patience and practical support.  sounds like somebody ought to have ridden the bus with hubby once or twice!


I know how it feels to not want to ride the bus. I have been there myself when I was younger. I had older kids doing things that led to bullying and I was terrified to go on the bus to school. It got so bad that I made myself sick and then refused to go to school. My mother finally had a conference with the Principal and the bus driver and they took care of the bully for good. He never bothered me again.

In this day and age, I see less and less control over kids who bully and also a hands-off approach to letting these kids know it is NOT okay to act up on the bus. If your son is a kindergartener, I would indulge him for the rest of the year until he gets some maturity under his belt and also some confidence about school in general. Then, maybe next year, let him try the bus again. Also, there is strength in numbers. Having friends or multiple companions for your son to ride on the bus with will certainly help. if that can be established, then it will be a smoother ride for him. Until then, there's nothing wrong with calming his fears and driving him to school until he is ready to take the bus by the horns. It will happen...but he's young. Good luck....


We too have gone through genuine bus issues like bullying, targeting, hitting and kicking only in 5th grade, not kindergarten. I went to the school and on the surface they made everything nice but nothing was done to the ringleader. My son was starting to act out and I finally pulled my son from the bus. That was the best decision I made. He was immediately less stressed and much happier & it showed in all aspects of his life. Providing that level of protection is important. My son can now handle the bus though I choose to continue to drive. Not only can he handle it, but his locker is right next to the bully's locker and they've entered some silent truce so, so far all is well. Keeping my fingers crossed. If your son is truly upset, forcing him isn't going to help; it's going to make him a target for other bullies. That's going to bleed into other problems at home and in school. This problem has an immediate cure - keep him off the bus for a while, maybe even the rest of this year. Let him build some confidence knowing he's protected. Maybe this will make you feel less alone: In my small neighborhood at least 8 middle school moms drive their kids to and from school everyday and they don't carpool. I'm one of them. So my guess is it's because these other 7 kids weren't have such great bus experiences either. Your son is only 6. Let him get over his fears in his time.