Baskets and Buckets

June 18, 2009

Buckets and baskets. Words that have become a part of my “self-talk”. I don’t necessarily say them out loud, but I say them just the same. The frequency depends on the kind of day it is. I have shared their meaning, which on occasion has been a good thing.

My husband taught me about baskets during his days as an elementary principal. Originally it was presented as a parenting tool. The theory is that when working on behaviors with your child, you should imagine three baskets. Basket A is the “Safety Basket”, for behaviors that are a matter of life or death. Items in this basket demand immediate attention; hopefully there are few. Basket B is the “Compromise Basket”, for what you would consider to be high priority items that can be approached with communication and compromise. Basket C is for “Reduction of Frustration”. It should be full of items that can be ignored or sidestepped. Running into the street is definitely Basket A. Picking up dirty clothes could be Basket B, but may move quickly to Basket C when the homework doesn’t get done.

The baskets are a great reminder for me of what is worth my worry, and when I need to move on. Basket C is my favorite. I have used the baskets at work, and it is not unusual for someone to preface a statement by letting me know what basket they feel it falls into. Often I find myself chucking things into Basket C when I feel the frustration building. The baskets make me stop and think about when I can effect a change, and when I should call it a day.

Buckets are a reference to the book How Full is Your Bucket? It is a quick read, but well worth the time. The idea is simple. Everyone has an imaginary bucket that is full when they are happy and empty when they are sad. Other people can fill or empty your bucket by their interactions with you. In return, you are responsible for doing the same for them. Of equal importance is the idea of not letting people draw from your bucket. That’s the point where the buckets and baskets work in tandem. If you’re trying to draw from my Bucket, I’m going to put you in Basket C. Slam dunk.

What prompted this post? My husband came home with a new book today, and you know how I love children’s books. This one is How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids. Right up my alley. This one’s going in the book basket for Asher, my first and bestest bucket filler. If you don’t have time for the full blown adult version of the bucket book – this one will work just fine. I’d put it in Basket A.

bucket book

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One Response to “Baskets and Buckets”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Excellent, informative post! Who knew about the 3 baskets, and thanks for the “heads up”! The buckets I love the premise. And, now armed with this new insight, I shall be thinking about where to “file” things…..Again, thanks for the info, and may your bucket be filled to the brim with wonderful and happy things!


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