Before the summer craziness begins, and you are challenged with meeting the multiple demands of swimming lessons, summer school and vacation travel schedules, give your kids an important challenge.
Encourage your children to think about beginning their summer mornings with the goal of filling their "bucket" by showing one act of kindness, love or appreciation for another person. The theory is that when we perform an act of kindness it makes someone else feel good; it fills their bucket. And when we fill someone else's bucket, our bucket responds by filling with feelings of happiness and contentment. In short, when we do good, we feel good.
Talk with your child about who they might help and how? Encourage them to create a menu of possible "bucket filling" ideas. Remind them that it doesn't have to be a monumental act. It can be as simple as remembering to call grandma to say hello, offering to carry in the groceries when mom gets home or helping dad out by taking the garbage cans to the street. Helping a sibling with their summer reading or by playing a game they want to play at the park can make a big difference in the life of a little brother or sister. Or consider having your children adopt a larger summer bucket filling project like cleaning up their local beach or park.
Talk with your children about how their actions might make themselves or someone else feel. Challenge them to increase their grains of sand by including a few more people as they demonstrate acts of kindness towards others? Talk about how this can be a win-win for everyone involved. The fuller our buckets, the happier we are sure to be!
After your kids have filled their buckets a few times, surprise them by recognizing their actions with a "Glad You Filled A Bucket Today" sticker, note or just a big hug recognizing that they thought of someone else today and encouraging them to continue. You don't need to spend buckets of; be creative and make the recognition of good behaviors part of your regular family conversations.
Oh, and don't forget to take a moment or two to fill your own bucket by modeling an act of kindness for your kids to see, Make it real. Hand your partner a glass of lemonade after they finish mowing the lawn, offer a hug when your child finishes a book that they may have been struggling to finish or tell your kids that you are writing a quick thank you note to the teacher they had this year. Call your mom or dad and ask how they are doing and thank them for being good parents. Let your kids see what it feels like to be recognized by someone else.
Two great books that will support your goals are by Carol McCloud:
Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
Tom Rath has his own spin on filling buckets called: How Full Is Your Bucket?
You have a whole summer in front of you. I hope by summer's end you and your kids have filled many a bucket and find your own buckets spilling over with happiness.