This Picture Book Completely Changed How I Talk to My Kids About Feelings

One book designed for kids has helped our entire family talk about our emotional well-being.

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This Book Changed How I Talk to My Kids About Feelings

Parents / Marcus Millan

Almost every night before bed, my husband and I ask my 8-year-old daughter one simple question:

"Is your bucket full?”

Depending on the type of day my daughter had, she’ll respond by telling us if her bucket is “full” and she is happy and content, or if her bucket needs something else to fill it back up. The concept of a “bucket” that needs to be filled every day to make someone happy and whole has been an incredibly helpful one for our entire family and it all comes courtesy of a special book my kid read at school. 

How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids


To buy: How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids, $9.99; 

How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids is a child-friendly spinoff of the wildly popular original book for adults. It introduces the concept of emotional health with a young boy named Felix who has had a bad day at school—his morning has gone poorly, his sister made fun of him, and his blocks fell over. 

At school, his teacher gives him and his classmates buckets, but when he gets to recess, he realizes that his bucket is empty. He then spends the rest of the day discovering how he can fill his bucket back up and help others fill their own buckets, too. 

When my daughter came home from school to tell me about the book, she was very excited and it soon became our family practice to use the concept of “filling your bucket” to discuss our own individual emotional health and well-being. If I’ve had a bad day, or am feeling down, I can explain to my kids that my bucket is empty. Or, if I need some time alone or to go to the gym without them, I can explain that I am filling my bucket back up. 

To buy: How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids, $9.99; 

It’s an incredibly simple concept, yet transformative in how it empowers us all to talk about our own emotions and needs. Not only do we use the “bucket” analogy to talk about when our buckets are feeling empty, but we also use it to help our children learn how to be very specific about what they need to fill their own buckets back up. 

For instance, my daughter might say she needs some time alone, or a hug, or some one-on-one time to fill her bucket back up. I love that it teaches her to clearly reflect and name her own needs—and frankly, it’s been helpful for me, too. 

“The reason I like this book is because it shows you how feelings work and also gives you a good idea of what happens to your happiness and sadness,” my 8-year-old commented when I asked her why she likes the book. 

More Bucket Fillers

The book is part of a larger series by Bucket Fillers that also educates children and families on other emotional health concepts, such as realizing that some people are “bucket dippers” who steal from other people’s buckets and that some kids have “bucket lids” that they use to prevent their own buckets from being spilled or stolen from. 

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children Hardcover – February 1, 2018


The other Bucket Filler books and products are:

You can also pick up the companion book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, which introduces kids to the concept of being “bucket fillers” for others, encouraging them to look for ways to express kindness to others. And of course, because being kind is its own reward, being a bucket filler also tends to bring the perk of filling up your own bucket too. 

No matter which book you might pick up for your family, the concept remains the same: we all need different things to fill our buckets every day and it’s important to talk about what those things might be. So if you’re ever feeling a little unbalanced, wondering what might be going on in your child’s life, or just need a way to express your needs to your family, be sure to start by being clear on what you need to fill up your bucket. 

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