When my 5 children were still quite young, I made up a story called “The Love Bucket”. When I told this story, I would use each of them as the leading character in the story. And each time, I used situations and variations which related to the child I was telling it to. It went something like this when I was telling it to one of my daughters…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl, that had blond hair and brown eyes. Inside this little girl, was a pink bucket, called the love bucket. She couldn’t see the love bucket but she could feel it. When it was full, she was the happiest. When it was empty, she was her saddest.
Every time her mommy or daddy hugged and kissed her, the hugs and kisses went inside her bucket. Every time someone smiled at her, those smiles went inside her bucket. Whenever she sat on Grandma’s lap, the warm loved feelings she felt went inside the bucket. When she was at the park and someone asked her to play, the good feelings she got from playing with a friend, went inside the bucket.
So you see, everything good went inside this bucket…hugs, kisses, the words “I love you“, back rubs, kind words, compliments, smiles, giggles, the feeling of warmth from sitting on a lap, kind acts…ect., all the things that made her feel loved and happy went inside her love bucket. Each time something went inside her love bucket, it was called a love deposit.
Her mommy taught her that everyone has a love bucket inside of them…that she could share her love bucket deposits with others but to always make sure that she kept enough inside for herself. She taught her how to make love deposits in other people’s buckets and showed her how to do this. She could make love deposits in other people’s love buckets by smiling, giving hugs, sharing, being kind, being a help to other‘s…ect. Whenever she made a love deposit into someone else’s bucket, it made the little girl happy.
Her mommy also taught her to watch out for things that might cause her bucket to get a leak…like unkind words, rejection, angry words, hitting…anything that made her feel bad inside are like withdrawals. These kinds of things could cause her love deposits to leak out and her love bucket to become empty. Her mommy talked about the ways we can cause other people’s buckets to become empty by saying unkind things, hitting, not sharing…ect.
There were times that the little girls love bucket wouldn’t be as full because people would forget to make love deposits into her love bucket. Sometimes, life was very busy at the little girls house and even though her mommy and daddy loved her very much, they didn’t always have time to sit and hold her, read her a story, or might be so busy that they forgot to give her all the hugs and kisses she needed. Sometimes, the little girl forgot to keep some of the deposits for herself…she gave too much of hers away.
Sometimes, her love bucket would get a leak caused by an unkind word, a harsh tone of voice from her mommy, a rejection on the playground at school. Whenever someone was unkind to her, some more of her love deposits would leak out. When her love bucket started to get empty, the little girl wasn’t as happy. She didn’t listen to her mommy or daddy as well as she normally did, she wasn’t very good at sharing her toys, and sometimes she said and did unkind things to her sisters and brothers.
The little girls mommy saw how she was acting so she took the little girl into her arms, hugged her and said,” I think your love bucket is getting empty. Mommy is so sorry that she hasn’t been putting more love deposits into your love bucket." The little girl forgave her mommy and in that moment, the leak in her bucket was sealed up. You see, the words, “I am sorry” and "I forgive you", when they are sincere, are like glue, they help make things better. The mommy then sat and held the little girl, filling up her love bucket with more love deposits of hugs, kisses, and the words I love you”. The little girl then told her mommy about how her feelings were hurt because someone she wanted to play with at school didn’t want to play with her.
The mommy told the little girl that from now on, whenever she felt like her love bucket was getting empty or like it had a leak, that she had permission to come to mommy and tell her that she needed her love bucket filled up. The little girl and her mommy talked about all the ways that they can make either deposits or withdrawals from love buckets in people.
When the little girls love bucket was full once again, her smile came back and she was ready to go play nicely with her sister once again. The little girl let her sister play with her favorite pony. This filled up the little girls love bucket even more. Once again, the little girl was at her happiest because her love bucket was full.
It became a habit for my children to come to me and tell me that they needed their love buckets filled up. I can honestly say that their behavior was much more positive when their buckets were full. Just the same, when their buckets were empty, it showed in negative behavior. It also made my children aware of how they treated others and that their choices in how they treated other’s either gave or took away from them. We had many conversations over the years in regards to our love buckets.
I started telling this story to my little people recently, and it has once again reminded me of the importance of making love deposits into other people, besides my children. It also makes me more aware of the withdrawals that are made and the how they affect all of us. It also makes me think of myself…when my love bucket is full, I am able to be at my best and I am happier…I have much more patience with my little people…I seem to get more things done…I have more to give away, much more peace and it’s much easier to handle life’s interruptions when I am full inside.