Happy Healthy Families: Have you filled a Bucket Today?

Teaching little people to do the ‘right thing’ can be very challenging for parents and educators.  At our Cottesloe Mothers Group we were very lucky to have Oscar’s amazing teacher Miss Owen (Trish Owen) visit our playgroup and explain the widely acclaimed bucket filling concept.

Trish teaches 3 year old kindy and has used the “bucket concept” as a way to help children understand the impact they have on others and to develop a sense of empathy as well as build their emotional regulation. 

Trish is passionate about children developing their emotional self, understanding what they feel and being able to deal with these emotions in a healthy way, which we all know can be a challenge for children and adults alike!

Trish explains: “Being a bucket filler helps this. We all have thoughts and feelings about ourselves. As adults we have developed a sense of self from our early childhood and whether consciously or subconsciously, we live out of these foundational thoughts. Think of them like the core memories, as in the movie ‘Inside out’. These memories also contain feelings. 

Have you ever noticed its happy people who help others?  It’s people who are content with healthy self esteem that have the staying power to help out in crisis.  This all has to do with our understanding of our own bucket and whether it is full or not. 

This is not to be mistaken with the fluctuating cycle of our moods, they can be easily tainted by our context or other people. Our bucket has more to do with what we think of ourselves and the acknowledgment that we interact with others out of these foundational thoughts. 

We want our children to be kind and considerate, we want them to share and play fair. We also want them to listen to us when we know what’s best for them and develop a decent morale character in a world that is ever changing! 

How can bucket filling help? Children fill and empty things from a young age so that is why I believe this concept is graspable by young minds. Basically, the concept states that everyone has an invisible bucket that holds their happy thoughts and feelings about themselves. As we interact with people we are either filling or dipping in to their bucket, which also impacts our own. There are three parts to the concept:

  1. Fill buckets 
  2. Don’t dip
  3. Use your lid 

Initially teaching the first two as the third needs to foundational idea that our buckets will be dipped and we have control over how many good thoughts and feelings will be taken out.  

Carol McCloud has written the book and is known as the bucket lady. I have taught this concept to young children for the past 3 years and have seen the results. Initially the invisible idea is tricky but I have had children explain that their bucket is in their heart, others have stated it is in their mind. It’s probably more holistic than one or the other, the point is children can learn how they impact others (and vice versa) through this concept. When the language is demonstrated (for example when a child has a toy taken from them and they are upset, you can articulate for them that their bucket has been dipped because the toy was taken. The other child can also be told that they have dipped by taking the toy. Not focussing on the dipping for too long but then asking the dipper how he can fill the dipped bucket or asking the person whose bucket has been dipped how they would like the dipper to fill theirs) children can learn to articulate when they are feeling sad, frustrated, angry, happy even jealous!

There are many more examples of this working, however it is best learnt about in the midst of playing. If anyone would like information or guidance how to implement this concept or any other pointers on developing the emotional and social self of your young child please feel free to contact Trish here.