Bucket Filling is a Solution – October 9, 2019

I love to write! However, October newsletters are always written with mixed emotions. This is the month our nation chooses to focus on anti-bullying. Last week, I witnessed a kindergarten boy exit a school bus, shoulders slumped in defeat, quietly crying as he made his way home. When I asked my son what happened, I learned that another student had routinely been unkind to the boy. I know we all have bad moments, and even bad days, but I will never understand bullying.

Bullying is repeated negative behavior towards others. For those of us that practice bucket filling, we know that negative behavior is referred to as “bucket dipping.” Is there a difference? I’m trying to better understand the “why” and the “when” of dipping. There are countless reasons why we dip. We are all human and we tend to react emotionally before we respond with reason. I know for myself personally, I tend to snap at my children when we are running late (again!) or when I am very tired. Children are no exception. The cognitive portion of their brains won’t be fully developed until their mid-20s, which makes it very challenging, though not impossible, to regulate their emotions.

Most often, dipping is due to thoughtless behavior and the inability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. We all dip at some point – it’s human. It’s usually accidental and only happens on occasion. It’s still important to recognize that you have hurt someone and they deserve a sincere apology. Bullying, however, is different. Bullying is purposeful, repeated, and is serious.

The bucketfilling concept has given us the opportunity to teach children (and adults!) that their words and actions affect others. The bucketfilling language provides teachable moments where children can learn to better identify their emotions as they pick up on social cues from others. Although they may not realize it, the ability to communicate to someone that their bucket is feeling empty is a step towards an emotionally intelligent brain. What is important is that we provide children with the tools they need to regulate their behavior in healthy ways. Bucket filling provides a solution where even the child who is dipping can learn to correct their behavior. When we simply label someone a “bully” we are taking away their opportunity for learning.

– Sandy

Here’s a link to a PDF printable version of this newsletter.