Be ‘bucket filler’ and boost friends

Published 10:08 am Monday, August 18, 2014

QUESTION: Do you have a way to teach children about the power of friendship and encouragement?

ANSWER: Your children will understand the story of the invisible bucket and dipper. Everyone has one. It determines how we feel about ourselves, about others, and how we get along with people. If you have ever experienced a series of very favorable things which makes you want to be good to people for a week, you have experienced your bucket being full to overflowing.

Your bucket can be filled by a lot of things that happen. When a person talks to you, your bucket is filled a little — even more if you are called by your name. If you are complimented on your knowledge or on a job well done, the level in your bucket goes up still higher. There must be a million ways to raise the level in someone else’s bucket.

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However, this is a story about a bucket and a dipper. Other people have dippers, and they can get their dippers in your bucket. Think about the times a person makes a mistake, feels terrible about it, only to have someone remind him of it as though he didn’t know he had made it. Perhaps you are having a bad day and everything goes wrong. You are embarrassed. Let’s say that at school, someone at the next desk, being very smug, says “You didn’t even have the right assignment?” You goofed and you know it – and that person is making it even worse. He’s got his dipper into your bucket.

Buckets are filled and buckets are emptied. When a person’s bucket is empty, she is a very different person than when it is full. We are likely to be pleasant, energetic and cooperative when our buckets are full. When our buckets are empty we will probably be critical, defensive and irritated.

The story of our lives is like the bucket and the dipper. Everyone has both. The secret of the bucket and the dipper is that when we fill someone else’s bucket, it does not take anything out of our bucket. The level in our own bucket actually gets higher when we fill someone else’s bucket. On the other hand, when we dip into another’s bucket, we scoop out a little from our own. People who are good friends have discovered the rewards of being bucket fillers; they are friendly and supportive and say kind things to each other.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care, call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out Good Friends Are Hard To Find: Help Your Child Find, Make and Keep Friends (Fred Frankel) at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First St. SE., Austin).