My youngest, Levi, came home from school one day last week talking about how he wasn’t going to be a bucket tipper, he was going to be a bucket filler. I had not a clue what he was talking about at the time… maybe you are reading this and know exactly what he meant. He went on to explain to me that his teacher, Ms. Laura, had told them that everyone has a bucket. When we use kind words and make people happy we fill their buckets. When we make a person sad their bucket tips over and the happy spills out. He was adamant… he was going to be a bucket filler from now on! I thought I had never heard of a sweeter concept, mostly because it really seemed to have made an impact on him.
It turns out, as you may have known, that this all came from a book that Ms. Laura had read to the class called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. In the book it talks of bucket filling and bucket dipping (not tipping, but I love the way Levi explained it) just as Levi had described it to me. The simple metaphor of filling someone’s bucket with kindness and love is brilliant and so easily understood by young children. Levi and I have talked a lot about it for the past few days. When he does something to intentionally sadden or anger his brother I will stop and ask him if he is filling Luke’s bucket or tipping it. He immediately knows which and most of the time has been correcting his behavior. When I have gotten frustrated with him and been less than patient or have yelled at him I acknowledge that I have tipped his bucket and let him know how sorry I am.
A few days ago he was sitting at the table coloring. He was getting frustrated with himself.
“Mommy!” I heard him cry. “Will you hug me?”
“Of course I will.” I said, and gave him a big hug. He hugged back with all his might. and looked up at me with the sweetest smile on his face.
“You just filled my bucket!” His words warmed my heart.
“You just filled mine, buddy.” And we hugged again.
I’ve never read the book, but I love what it has taught my son, and our whole family about how our words and actions affect others. As I have written before, I struggle with yelling, and this way of visualizing what it does to my children is really helpful for me in the heat of the moment. Not to say that I don’t struggle anymore, but I’m a work in progress. We all are. We can be bucket fillers starting now!