What is bucket filling? “It is helpful to think of every person as being born with an invisible bucket. The bucket represents a person’s mental and emotional health. You can’t see the bucket, but it’s there. She said that it is primarily the responsibility of parents and other caregivers to fill a child’s bucket. When you hold, caress, nurture, touch, sing, play, and provide loving attention, safety, and care, you fill a child’s bucket. Giving that love is filling buckets. In addition to being loved, children must also be taught how to love others. Children who learn how to express kindness and love lead happier lives. When you care about others and show that love by what you say and do, you feel good and you fill your own bucket, too.” -Carol McCloud, author of Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
So what’s bucket dipping? It’s just the opposite of bucket filling. It’s when we bully others, say mean things, or take any other action that makes people feel badly about themselves. When we are unkind or thoughtless, we begin to empty our own and other people’s buckets.
I recently read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? to classes of first and third graders, and I began to wonder how these kids dealt with other people dipping into their buckets. So, I talked to them about the word “resilience” and asked them how they dealt with situations where someone was unkind to them or they were unkind to themselves. I gave examples of missing the winning goal in basketball, getting a bad grade, or having someone yell at you. Then I asked them how they bounced back or were resilient when they had faced these types of events. I found the answers fascinating. (The bolded words and the words in quotation marks are taken directly from the children.)
Walk away – “If my sister is being mean to me, I just walk away and don’t listen to her.” Others agreed and said that’s how they dealt with anybody being mean to them. What a great strategy! Just walk away and not pay any attention to the negative chatter going on.
Try again – “If you can’t make the shot in basketball, then you just try again.” “Yeah, just keep practicing. That’s what I do.” This is what we try to teach our students and our own children constantly. Practice may not make perfect, but it does increase our ability to solve a problem, and it increases our beliefs in ourselves as we take steps in a positive direction.
Talk to yourself – “I say, ‘You can do this!” Others nodded their heads in agreement. This builds on a strategy we already use. All of us talk to ourselves, whether we realize it or not. What we need to do more of is become aware of our self talk, listen to the positives, and throw out the negatives.
Overcome your bad self – “You can’t run away all the time when you can’t do something. Just try it.” Nike may have made it famous, but the old adage still works: just do it. Don’t let yourself be swayed by the fear of failure or browbeating messages. We all can do more than we think we can, and we’ll never know until we try.
Close your eyes – “Close your eyes and think of times you did something really good.” In other words, accentuate the positive. This will boost our confidence and help to keep us going strong through the tough times. “I close my eyes and say this isn’t your last chance. You can keep trying.” This is a great mantra to use when we’ve tried to achieve something and haven’t quite made it.
It’s obvious these children’s teachers and parents have been teaching and modeling resiliency strategies. Now all the kids need to do is to keep practicing these strategies and adding new ones to their repertoire. As one child told me, “You’re talking about perseverance, too.”
To learn more about bucket filling, check out the information and free resources at the bucket filling website.