Teaching Kindness to Toddlers
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Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
I recently pulled Have You Filled a Bucket Today? off the shelf to help my toddler understand why it is important to be kind to others. I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be too complicated of an idea for him to understand, but he really gets it, and the things he has said about it have been so cute!
I reminded him that when he’s riding his bike with daddy, he can say, “Thank you for taking me on a bike ride” to fill daddy’s bucket. His response was, “Well, how will daddy hold his bucket while he is on his bike?” So sweet….
The premise of the book is that everyone carries around a metaphorical bucket of happiness… and we can fill each other’s buckets by saying and doing nice things for one another. The book describes that we should strive to be bucket-fillers, and that by filling other’s buckets, we will make them happy and in turn make ourselves happy too. It also describes “bucket-dipping” / bullying behaviors and tells children how these behaviors do not make us happy. Overall, I really like the concept and have used this book in my elementary classrooms with much success.
My toddler and I read the book and over the next few days had many discussions about bucket-filling. We talked about how we could fill others’ buckets, and he really got excited about it. Here are some suggestions of easy ways toddlers can practice filling buckets (please leave any additional suggestions in the comments of this post!):
- Give a compliment (say something nice)
- Say thank you
- Make something for someone: send family members or friends letters in the mail, bake a treat or meal for a friend or family member,
- Choose items to donate (toys, clothes, books) to those in need
- Invite a friend for a playdate
- Write a thank-you note
- Give a hug
- Give a flower to a teacher, parent, friend, or family member
- Help with chores (clean up toys, make bed, empty dishwasher, sweep floor, will depend on your child’s skill set)
- Call a family member or friend on the phone (video calls are always appreciated by grandparents!)
- Read a book to someone
- Help teach something to a sibling (could be as simple as a single letter or number if your toddler can do this)
- Buy or make lunch for someone in need
- Hold the door for someone
- Offer to carry someone’s grocery bag or packages
Another great resource for teaching kindness is Daniel Tiger. I love this video about choosing kindness:
I believe that teaching young children that kindness is a choice they make every day will go a long way in their futures. Let’s teach our kids to be kind and make the world a better place!