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bus traumaBus Trauma.  There are two constants in my 11-year-old son Javier’s life:

ADHD and Bus Trouble

The ADHD we can’t do much about. He is inattentive, over-reactive, impulsive, and immature. He can’t ignore the things going on around him.  It’s a struggle for him to keep his mouth shut when he perceives someone is doing something he or she shouldn’t. That’s with the help of 50mgs of Vyvanse every morning. It is what it is.

Bus Trauma Battles

The bus trouble is a different story.

For five long, arduous years, I’ve battled a bus driver who sees Javi as a nuisance. Everything is his fault. Javi will get demerits for responding to someone else’s bad behavior.  He will receive reprimands for speaking out when someone is behaving badly. Whether the driver does it on purpose or not, my kiddo feels scapegoated. Nothing he does is good enough.

Then there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The big bad bus driver broke her leg and had to be in a full-leg cast. Even more thankfully, it meant she couldn’t drive the bus.

Enter Our Savior – An End to Bus Trauma

Enter our savior – a new driver who has experience working with impulsive children. Under her well-trained supervision, my boy’s entire world view has shifted.

Despite being temporary, the new driver has implemented some neat little tricks to reign in wild mannerisms and busybody tendencies. By the end of the first week, she had him staying in his seat, keeping his mouth shut, and strutting his stuff.

Sharing Solutions to Eliminate Bus Trauma 

Now it’s our turn to help other bus-traumatized kids uncover their inner superstar.  Print this article and ask your bus driver to try these three easy techniques for a better bus ride.

Give the Child a Job

On the bus, Javi was tasked with being the “Getting Out Of Your Seat” Monitor. The driver gave him a little notepad and asked him to write down the names of any child who stood up or put his/her feet and legs in the aisle.

According to the driver, Javi would fill pages and pages each week. At the end of the week, he’d turn in his list and walk away with a smug little smile.  The minute he turned the corner, the driver would toss his hard work right in the trash.

Why it Worked

If you want my child to act like a confident and mature young adult, you need to put him in charge of something. The goal wasn’t for him to actually catch and report infractions. The goal was to make him feel important and to give him a way to channel his frenetic energy. Best of all, no other child got in trouble.

Outline the Rules

Javi has a lot to remember. There are rules for home, for the classroom, for football, for 4H and so on. He does a pretty good job of remembering what’s acceptable in each situation. Except on the bus. What the new driver realized is that Javi couldn’t pick up on the rules because they were never actually stated.  He had to infer what was okay and what wasn’t.


The rules were different for Javi than for other kids. He saw his bus mates getting away with behaviors that the old driver didn’t tolerate from him. To correct this problem, the new driver printed out a list of dos and don’ts for each child.

Why it Worked

The rules were clear and concise. The new driver didn’t use long complicated sentences.  She tried to use an example for each rule. When a child breaks a rule, the driver was careful to remind him which rule he broke and give him some options for better following that rule in the future.

Play to the Child’s Ego

Javi, like every kid on the planet, loves to hear he’s the best at something. While the old driver couldn’t come up with a single nice thing to say to him in five years, the new driver gushed over him. She took notice when his name was announced over the speakers at school for one achievement or the other. She pointed out how well he was following the rules. In short, she highlighted what he did well.  She did this each and every time she had the opportunity to.

Why it Worked

Hearing that positive praise made my kid want to keep doing good things. He felt special and smart and loved. That feeling is addictive and he wanted more of it. Every morning he got off the bus feeling pumped up for a great day. Every afternoon he got off the bus feeling like he was someone amazing.

That’s how kids, all kids, are supposed to feel. Even little 11-year-old boys with ADHD and bus troubles.

Do you have a bus horror story? Have you found a way to make riding the bus easier on your kiddo? Share your tips and strategies with others on our Facebook Page.