Parenting in the Rain, Episode 3
In This Episode:
- Carol McCloud’s book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” has a message of “ Have you done something nice for someone today?”. Children tend to understand this concept well when explained in this context.
- Metaphorically speaking, everyone is born with an invisible bucket.
- Children not only need love, but they need to be TAUGHT how to love others. As parents, we can teach them how to love others through showing them through our actions, as well as explaining to them the concept of “filling” and “dipping” into our metaphorical buckets.
- One of the main tenets of this bucket filling concept is that when we help others, we fill others’ buckets (help them to feel good), when we are unkind, we dip into others’ buckets (contribute to their unpleasant feelings). In turn, when we help others to feel good, we help ourselves to feel good.
- When we help children to reflect on their actions through statements such as “Did you fill a bucket today?”, they often learn how to be kind, which helps them to be happier long term.
- Carol made some changes recently in her original “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” book to include the concept of “put a lid on your bucket” when others are disrespectful or hurtful to you in some way.
- When people are in pain, it is hard to be bucket filler. This bucket filling concept teaches children that sometimes it is hard to fill buckets (be nice to others) when we have an empty bucket ourselves. It gives them an understanding of how to navigate through the times when others’ just aren’t nice to them. It also teaches children how to resolve their emotional pain and move toward feeling better through kindness. This is an empowering message.
- This bucket filling concept originated with Donald Clifton. He coined “bucket filling” and “bucket dipping” verbiage.
- In essence, this concept is based in the notion that people feel better about themselves when they are kind to others. Our words and actions affect others.
- It is important to teach our children that everyone will not always be nice to them or treat them with respect. A short one-liner, such as “use your lid” can let your child know how to respond in a healthy way when people are unkind. The use of a metaphorical lid is a way of not letting other people dip in to your bucket and take out your good feelings. It helps children to understand that the way that people treat others is a reflection of how they (the other person) is feeling inside. (Do they have an “empty bucket”?) This is an important concept because if we don’t teach them otherwise, they may start to believe that something is wrong with them when people are unkind to them.
- Giving our children opportunities to treat others with kindness is so important. Many people volunteer, donate clothing and food, and do other things to help support this concept and ultimately nurture genuinely kind children.
- Carol mentions that whatever you focus on, you get more of. In essense, when you teach people “what to do”, you get a better result than when you focus on “what not to do”. So, teaching children to be kind is so much more effective than focusing on “don’t be mean”.
- When kids realize that people that don’t treat them kindly have an “empty bucket”, it still stings, but it also can ignites feelings of compassion and empathy. These traits are important in regard to nurturing kind kids. These character traits set them up for relationship success now and in the future. For some, it may take some time to develop that understanding though.
- The moments that we don’t think matter, really do matter. Our children are aware of how we treat others and use that for their “How To Act in Life” guide. Even relatively small acts such as smiling at someone, saying thank you to the cashier, having a positive facial expression when you first see your child in the morning and such, can make a huge impact on how children treat others, and ultimately themselves.
- Statements such as, “Who’s bucket can you fill today?” or “I wonder what I can do to fill her bucket?”, supports the intentionality of being kind.
- As parents, statements such as “Let me tell you some of the reasons I love you so much” , “I love the way you light up when you are talking about your play at school”, and such is a great way to fill our children’s buckets, as well as our own.