One story that has been all over the Internet recently is the 7th-grader who safely stopped a school bus after his bus driver passed out.  Some background that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention are the skills that may have come into play when he needed them.

Stopping a loaded school bus requires slowly pressing the brakes, not the instinctive jamming on brakes that most of us would do in a similar situation.  Dillon Reeves said that he knew to stop the bus slowly because he had watched the bus driver “every day.” His dad said that the fact that the boy didn’t have a cell phone may have helped him be more observant.

Another important factor may have been that Dillon had some practice driving golf carts, and had spent time sitting on his dad’s lap behind the wheel on country roads starting from age 4.  There is a big difference between golf carts and school busses, but it’s possible that driving golf carts built up at least some muscle memory that came in handy when he needed to stop a school bus.

This story illustrates the principle that the more skills our kids learn, the more confident they will be in a crisis.  Of course, I can’t recommend illegally letting kids sit in your lap while driving.  However, letting them learn skills on golf carts, bicycles, go-carts, scooters, and other legal vehicles will undoubtedly teach them both skills and self-confidence.  

Of course, none of us wants our kids to have to be able to stop a school bus, but we do want them to be the kind of people who could stop one if needed.  The best way to help them become those people is to start as early as possible, equipping them with the skills and experience they will need to confront whatever crises life brings their way.


Debbie Ausburn

Helping foster parents and stepparents learn how to be the person who is not supposed to be there.