Bucket-Filling For Your Kids

Do Unto Otters

Do your kiddos practice bucket-filling on a daily basis? Have you even taught them about bucket-filling yet?

You probably have, and just don’t realize it. But in this season of celebrating miracles and light and goodness, many of us are focusing in our families on bucket-filling anyway.

Even if we don’t do so in the context of bucket-filling per se.

From what I’ve seen, though, using this explicit metaphor makes an important life lesson easier for kiddos to understand.

What IS Bucket-Filling?

I first learned about the “bucket-filling” metaphor this past fall. That’s when Essie’s preschool started using a new “pro-social” curriculum that emphasizes “bucket-filling.”

In short, it’s a kid-friendly way of thinking about being nice to others. Basic Golden Rule stuff: Love your neighbors. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Every day, our interactions with other people can either FILL their buckets, or EMPTY them. No one likes to feel sad or mad or bad or icky. That’s what bucket-emptying words and actions do,

Bucket-filling, on the other hand, is about doing and saying things that make others feel good. Things that make a positive difference in their lives.

The kids seem to really get into visualizing full and empty buckets. Of course, having pom-poms around (to hand out as rewards for bucket-filling actions) also helps.

Only unlike Mr. Hellag’s Fuzzies Economy, Essie’s teacher Mrs. Donner has a classwide Fuzzies jar where everyone deposits their earnings. In other words, they literally fill the bucket. Each Monday the jar starts out empty again.

When the class filled it by Wednesday one week last month, they got to have a PJ-and-flashlight-party the next day.

Why bother Filling Buckets?

When Essie’s teachers first explained bucket-filling to us in September, it sounded so simple that I thought, “Duh! Of course this is a good thing to teach!”

But I’m amazed at the difference these explicit lessons on bucket-filling have made in our household.

Kimmie’s school also emphasizes being kind to others, treating others the way you would like to be treated, and the like. But ever since Essie learned the language of bucket-filling, she’s become Kimmie’s teacher on the basics of human interactions.

Essie is quick to comment when someone fills her bucket. And she’s equally quick to point out to Kimmie when Kimmie does something that is not nice. Or, to be more precise, that is bucket-emptying instead of bucket-filling.

I especially love that “bucket-filling” gives Essie a way to express her feelings without either a) hitting Kimmie over the head or b) wailing to me about her sister’s latest transgression.

Bucket-Filling At Home

Kimmie hasn’t bought into this concept 100% yet.

Then again, she’s usually the one who’s more likely to help out when I ask.

However, it’s great to be able to say “Essie, can you please set the table? It would really fill my bucket!” Or “How about you try FILLING your sister’s bucket instead of EMPTYING it?” when they start squabbling.

Always good to have one more trick up one’s parenting sleeve.

And in a world that never seems to be at peace, think what could happen if everyone learned the importance of treating others with respect and kindness from their first days of life onward?

Have you tried bucket-filling (or a similar concrete metaphor) to help your kids learn about the Golden Rule? If so, let us know how it went in the comments!

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