Looking for a way to reconnect with your child who seems to be in trouble all the time? It’s all about filling their bucket! Today we’ll talk about how to use bucket filler activities to keep your child’s love tank full even when they misbehave.
Being a bucket filling family will help you build bridges to support positive behavior! Is it easy? Not at all friend. But you can do this!
Some days I just get sidetracked. My mind is on what to prep for dinner, work tasks, how to organize this, and how to clean that. I’m just not as available to my kids’ needs as I should be. You, too?
When we get busy with life, it’s like we poke these tiny holes in our child’s bucket. As their emotional buckets slowly drain, their behavior can take a turn for the worse. Small requests turn into major power struggles. Tiny disappointments suddenly become gigantic meltdowns.
What can we do about this mamas? How can we pour life into our kids even when they disobey, even when we’re busy?
Ephesians 3:14- 19 says this, “For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that our children should be held responsible for their behavior. But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t give them every opportunity to succeed. Instead, our job as parents is to encourage. We are the funnels of God’s love into their hearts.
It’s not just our love filling the bucket, but God’s! When their buckets are full of God’s love for them, that’s when real transformation happens in their character.
The idea behind this is simple. Kids who are fulfilled, encouraged, cared for, and respected usually behave better. When we feel better, we act better!
Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages of Children, has a similar take on the issue. Chapman says, “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’”
When it’s time to discipline, you discipline fairly and consistently. But sometimes, filling a child’s emotional bucket can steer them away from misbehavior. Plus, bucket filling rebuilds emotional bridges after discipline. Read on to find out how to be a bucket filler in real, messy life.
Bucket Filler Activities for Families
What can you as a parent do to fill up your child’s bucket at home? Well, to begin with, let’s get this clear. Love is a verb. Let’s take Chapman’s Five Love Languages and brainstorm fun ways to fill your child’s bucket! Remember, each person’s bucket is filled with different things. For one child, they may crave quality time. Another child may need words of affirmation. Find out your child’s love language and use this knowledge to make your bucket fillers more meaningful!
- take a walk together
- work a puzzle after dinner
- get on the floor and play with your child, get involved in his imaginary world
Words of Affirmation
- “You worked really hard on that!”
- “I’m so glad you’re my son/daughter.”
- “You’re such a determined worker/listener/artist, etc.”
- “I’m proud of you.”
- Bring your child a flower or pretty leaf from the yard. Yes, gifts can be free!
- Give your child something you can do together, like a board game.
- Support your child’s interests with a heartfelt and thoughtful gift. Show him you’ve been paying attention to his interests.
Acts of Service
- Make your kid’s favorite dinner.
- Help your child with homework.
- Tag team a chore so he can have more time to spend with the family.
- Tousle your child’s hair.
- Roughhouse while dinner is in the oven.
- Snuggle up and read a book together.
- Hold hands while he sits in the grocery cart.
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When should I fill my child’s bucket?
Now that you have the what, let’s talk about the when. There are basically two times to fill your child’s bucket, before he misbehaves, and after he misbehaves. Both are important, but they play very different roles.
When’s the best time to fill your child’s bucket? Before he misbehaves! Have you noticed that your little one is a little extra whiny today, or your school aged child is talking back more than usual? Take a few minutes (seriously, even five minutes can make a difference!) to connect with your child and fill their emotional bucket. Chances are, he’ll get distracted by all that love filling his bucket, and forget the misbehavior he had in mind. I used this strategy over and over again with my children. Be observant, and you’ll find you can head off misbehavior before it even happens!
After Misbehavior or Discipline
Filling the bucket after misbehavior and disciplinary steps is all about rebuilding those emotional bridges. Discipline, when done fairly and consistently, tends to produce a contrite and repentant spirit.
At home, these are some of the sweetest moments with my son. After he’s been disciplined, I always pull him close and tell him I love him. I’ll often say, “I love you. Jesus loves you. And I love you too much to let you behave that way.” He’ll wrap his little hands around my face, give me a sweet peck, and say “I’m sorry mommy. Yes ma’am.” So meaningful. So simple. And I know that his emotional bucket is filled to the top again.
Bucket Filling Family Action Steps
- Figure out your child’s love languages! Take time on a few separate occasions to ask your child: “How do you know Mommy and Daddy love you?” Look for a pattern to help you understand his primary love language.
- Jot down a quick list of one specific bucket filler you’ll do each day this week for your child. Plan ahead and be intentional before the misbehavior begins!
- Make a point to fill those buckets up after you discipline your child. Rebuild those bridges!
What do you think? What are your favorite ways to fill your child’s bucket?