As a busy working mom, using my resources is not only logical, it’s time-saving. So when J turned to me and said “You’re filling my bucket, mommy!” I had to know more. Something about that phrase…it resonated with my kids and I knew I had stumbled upon something that would be incredibly useful. It will come as no surprise that the bucket tactic is not my idea. Nope. It came courtesy of their preschool teachers.
I’ve shared before how I use the boys’ school to learn how to speak the language they best understand. Hearing that phrase “filling my bucket,” I immediately knew my kids had learned a new language. Purposeful parenting is all about applying knowledge to teach life lessons in a meaningful way. I sought out more information so that I could speak the same language as my children to mimic the routine and behavior expectations they encounter at school, all while cultivating a spirit of empathy and respect for others.
Here’s how the story goes:
- Everyone person has a bucket. It sits right in their chest, kind of where their heart is. It’s their special place.
- Every action we take, every word we utter…it has a reaction. Either to ourselves or to someone around us.
- LIFE LESSON: My actions impact others. My words impact others.
- The bucket by your heart has three options when it comes to reacting to the actions of those around us.
- FILLING: Kind words, thoughtful actions, happy moments, laughter, special care, milestones…these items FILL our buckets.
- EMPTYING: Harsh words, anger, mean actions, physical abuse, poor behavior, lying…these items EMPTY our buckets.
- DRIPPING: Sadness, exhaustion, depression, hurt, loss…our bucket DRIPS when we encounter these emotions and circumstances.
- Your bucket is filled with your very best memories. It’s your secret garden of magic.
- Fourth of July: B told me his bucket was full of fireworks, popcorn and stars.
- Soccer Shots: J told me his bucket was full of soccer goals he had scored.
- Bed Time: I told my boys they were filling my bucket with love, warm hugs and feeling special.
Here are the phrases we use on a daily basis:
- Are you filling my bucket?
- Does that fill your bucket?
- That doesn’t fill my bucket.
- That empties my bucket.
- Do you want to empty or fill my bucket?
- You are filling my bucket!
- My bucket is dripping.
This small handful of phrases has completely altered how I discipline my children. Their empathetic hearts are drawn to filling the buckets of those around them, especially their mama’s. They engage each other to encourage bucket-filling behavior and are quick to remind when someone’s bucket is being emptied. They have fully embraced their impact on those around them, and are beginning to make better, more thoughtful choices when it comes to their actions and their words.
When it comes to discipline, most situations are easily managed with a simple question “Are you filling my bucket?” By directly relating a specific poor choice to a resulting consequence connects the dots in their minds and hearts. Time outs, yelling matches and smart talk have diminished (I’d be lying if I said they disappeared. Ha!) and I find myself growing more and more proud of their choices and accomplishments every day. Their accomplishments aren’t by luck or accident or their general easy natures. Their accomplishments today are thoughtful, purposeful choices to treat others and themselves with respect and empathy. They are turning into strong, caring individuals. They are filling my bucket.
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.