Is your toddler or young child flexing his “stubborn” muscles lately (or just excessively nagging you)? Sometimes it’s hard to know why the behavior problems start. If he’s digging his heals in about sharing, potty training, eating, or truly ANYTHING, then consider this parenting trick. His “buckets” of ATTENTION and CONTROL may be a little empty.
Kids’ stubborn, cranky, nagging (or, let’s face it…A-hole-ish) behavior can often be explained by this super simple parenting concept of “emotional bucket filling.”
The source of your child’s behavior problems could be due to the amount of ATTENTION & CONTROL your child gets daily.
TWO BUCKETS OF NEED
There are a few versions of this parenting concept floating around the positive parenting and child psychology world. The gist is that every kid has two BUCKETS that represent their emotional needs.
In one bucket is the need to feel connected to mama. In the other is the need to feel separate/independent and in control of their little universe.
The two buckets can also be seen as POWER & SIGNIFICANCE.
But, no matter how you slice it, the same rule applies. You have to keep them filled, or you’ll likely see behavior problems pop up.
So, everyday, they need to have those two different emotional “buckets” filled up, or everyone will suffer.
Here’s a few good children’s books on the idea of bucket filling as the key to a life of happiness! Definitely a fun way to get the kids involved in their own bucket filling.
Bucket #1: NEED FOR ATTENTION
Oh, there’s no shortage of mothers who understand how big this bucket feels. But, a super uncooperative kid, or even a whiney-beyond-all-measure-kid could be a sign that the “bucket of attention” is getting low.
Kids are SMART. They know when you’re multi-tasking, and they won’t consider that kind of time together “deposit worthy.” NOPE.
You have to give them some UNDIVIDED quality attention—for at least 10-15 minutes every SINGLE day. Try my super easy TRICK for filling up this bucket!
Also, prepare yourself. If your kid’s bucket is SUPER low, then it may take a while to fill it up before he stops the crazy behavior problems he’s got going on.
Bucket #2: NEED FOR CONTROL
The second bucket, CONTROL, is so incredibly hard to fill. Why? Because it requires us to LET GO. It also requires us to embrace the mess that will inevitably happen.
We’ve had power struggles with things like food, potty training, nap time, clean up time, and the list goes ON…But, every single time I questioned why, the result was usually the same: I was micromanaging or helicoptering their world.
In a nutshell: I needed to back the fuck up. And, usually, once I did, things started heading in the right direction.
It’s quite ironic actually. To get your kid to do what you want, you have to (in some ways) let them do what they want. Ridiculously frustrating. But, true story.
Making Withdrawals from the Buckets
It’s a given that you’re gonna get upset, frustrated, and be the mean mommy who says NO to things. That’s just life. Given that–let me throw out a little bit of caution.
Every time you have a “negative” interaction with your little, you’re basically taking a scoop OUT of the bucket you’ve been working so hard to FILL.
That’s right. Also, the scooper that fills the bucket is smaller than the scooper that takes away from it. So, there’s your incentive for pulling back a little on the yelling, or easing up a scooch when he does something annoying (but not horrific).
Just try and breathe through those moments.
Being Present & Letting Go (a little)
Funny how the two hardest things to give your kids sometimes are the two things they need the most. But, they’re essential if you want to keep the peace.
First, you need to be PRESENT to give your kid the kind of attention that will fill up that first bucket. Second, you need to LET GO of controlling, fixing, and hovering so you can fill up their control bucket.
This is a tall order for many mamas, but I totally swear by it.
When you feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark looking for the source of your child’s behavior problem—the two bucket idea is a good place to start.