Bucket filling was first introduced in the 1990s for parents and caregivers involved in early childhood care and education. Babies are born with an invisible bucket say experts in infant brain research. The bucket represents a child’s mental and emotional health. You can’t see the bucket, but it’s there.
It is the parents' and caregivers’ responsibility to fill a child’s bucket. When you hold, caress, nurture, touch, sing, play and provide loving attention, safety and care, you fill your child’s bucket. Giving love fills buckets.
In addition to being loved, children must also be taught to love others. Children who learn how to express kindness and love lead happier lives. When you love and care about others and show that love with what you say and do, you feel good and you fill your own bucket too.
The power of affirming words and actions to strengthen families, children and schools is captured in the simple and enduring concept of bucket filling.
Bucket filling encourages positive behaviour as children (and adults) see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness and appreciation on a daily basis.
The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket
Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.
Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves.
Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic.
But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy and undermines our will. That’s why every time someone dips from our bucket, it hurts us.
So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice – one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health and happiness.
Everyone has an invisible bucket. We are at our best when our buckets are overflowing and at our worst when they are empty.
Everyone also has an invisible dipper. In each interaction, we can use our dipper either to fill or to dip from others’ buckets.
Whenever we choose to fill others’ buckets, we in turn fill our own.
There is plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence to demonstrate the importance of bucket filling in our lives. Take every opportunity to increase the positive emotions of those around you. It will make a big difference. It may even change the world!
Don’t waste another moment. A bucket, somewhere, is waiting for you to fill it.