Is your child a BUCKET FILLER or a BUCKET DIPPER?February is the month of love and an ideal time to talk to children about feelings and how we can show love to one another beyond just the romantic version of love. Think kindness, compassion and empathy, all of which I have been on the receiving end in bucket loads, for the past three months since my husband’s tragic death.

When children are toddlers we tell them to be nice to the kitty and to stroke the dog softly.  In preschool we teach them to share and be kind, and that other children aren’t for hitting, kicking or biting.  Sometimes we find ourselves saying,

“Now that wasn’t nice, you made mummy sad/sore/scared.”


One of our responsibilities as parents is to bring our children up to be kind to others.  Kindness, compassion and empathy are wonderful character traits that are not exactly taught but are generally caught, through real life experiences.

They learn about kindness and happiness by being on the receiving end of it, or not.   Most of our children have wept over situations where another child has been horrible or unkind to them.  This is how they learn about life.  They need to experience both sides of the coin to understand what kindness feels like, otherwise it is just an abstract concept.

I came across an award-winning children’s book recently called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud (Fern Press, 2006).The really practical and teachable concept behind this happiness guide is that everyone is born with an invisible bucket that needs to be filled with love and nurturing, healthy touch, singing, play, attention and safety.  Children need to learn that everyone else also has an invisible bucket that needs to be filled, and they can help to fill those buckets too.  Isn’t this a lovely analogy?  In order to teach our children to be bucket fillers, we must role model bucket filling by filling their buckets on a regular basis and pointing out how others fill our buckets in different ways.


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Carol writes: “Your bucket has one purpose only.  Its purpose is to hold your good thoughts and good feelings about yourself.  You feel very happy and good when your bucket is full, and you feel very sad and lonely when your bucket is empty.  Other people feel the same way too…When you make someone feel special, you are filling a bucket.”

She also talks about ‘bucket dippers’ who are people who makes others feel bad, sad, upset and lonely, to name a few.  When we do that we steal good feelings from someone else’s bucket.  Bullies who do mean things or make others feel bad are bucket dippers.

“Many people who dip have an empty bucket. They think they can fill their own bucket by dipping into someone else’s…but that will never work.  You never fill you own bucket when you dip into someone else’s.  But guess what………when you fill someone’s bucket, you fill your own bucket too!”

The bottom line is that we are either filling up or dipping into each other’s buckets by what we say and do.  Our planet needs lots of great bucket fillers to make the world a better place.  A lovely dinner table conversation could start with this question:  “So how did you fill a bucket today?”

With much love to you all.

 Love Nikki

Thank You for filling my bucket!


And so LIFE AFTER THIS begins.

To the hundreds of you who have sent messages of love and support, flowers and meals over the last few months, thank you, thank you. I haven’t got round to responding to many of them yet, that will have to happen in time. I was relieved of feeling guilty for not responding by a close and wise friend who said, “Two blue ticks on Whatsapp is enough. Then I know you’ve read my message. No need to respond. I will only worry if I don’t see the ticks!”

In late January, two months after my Simon’s tragic death I stepped out of the haze of shock and grief and back into my world of work, presenting my first talk. It was a bit of a landmark day on this roller coaster journey that we are on. Having felt a little bit normal for a few hours I could see some light at the end of the tunnel, only to have it obliterated as I hit rock bottom and cried on and off for the whole of the next day and was pretty much useless. So goes the up and down nature of grief! But I really am enjoying being back at work, doing what I love and trying to create a ‘new normal’ with some kind of regular routine again.

I always talk about the importance of routine for kids and families, and boy am I currently being reminded of its importance for everyone after having almost no routine for over two months. It is a practical placeholder, a script that provides structure and predictability for one’s day in a busy, chaotic world. Part of that routine for me has been to go back to my weekly TV and radio interviews. Same time, same place, a form of continuity and normality.

Life After Tragedy - Interview with Nikki Bush It is only with the love and support of many special and amazing people in my life, including all of you, that I have been able to get to this point and achieve this small personal victory of getting up and speaking again. Thank you my very, very special peeps, my bucket-fillers, for helping me to gather my courage to get out there, to get back on my bicycle.

Let’s keep journeying together one parent, one teacher, one leader at a time as we raise the next generation of young talent to step out bravely in the world.


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