They play. They laugh. They snuggle.
They yell. They push. They name call.
This is all typical sibling stuff and while I know it’s nothing to worry about I also know it’s not something I want to ignore either. I want them to focus on making each other feel good.
My children’s preschool teacher introduced them to the book How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath. This story uses the metaphor of a bucket to explain why happy people make you feel good and fill up your bucket, while others make you feel bad and empty your bucket.
I could tell that this story made sense to them. It gave them a way to visualize how they have the power to affect others. So I took that idea and a created a positive reward system for our home.
Each child has their own bucket. When I observe or hear about them doing something kind for someone else they get a pom pom in their bucket. We talked about how the pom poms were soft and fuzzy similar to the warm fuzzy feelings we get inside when we make others happy.
I asked the kids how it will make them feel if a sibling gets a pom pom in their bucket and they do not. Then we talked about how it’s OK to feel jealous, angry, or sad but how we should try to control those feelings and not to say things that would hurt feelings. I also told them that feeling proud and happy for each other would definitely fill someone’s bucket.
When the buckets are full they can choose a reward. I was careful to make the rewards less about material things and more about meaningful interactions with the family. The coupons they can pick from are:
- “You Choose Coupon”—good for choosing the movie for our family movie night each Friday or choosing the dessert we share after dinner;
- “Night Owl Coupon”—staying up past bedtime;
- “Sleep Tight Coupon”—which is good for sleeping in mom and dad’s big bed.
I love that these rewards are meaningful and focus on quality time. I was surprised to find that my 5-year-old son’s favorite reward is the sleep tight coupon. Knowing that he prefers to snuggle with me versus choosing dessert fills my bucket all the way up!