Throughout the ages, all cultures have used storytelling to instill personal, moral values and to pass on wisdom and knowledge for future generations. It is through storytelling, whether in a book, on the stage, on the screen, or sharing experiences that we can help students better understand themselves, and others, because the stories being told often weave something similar to the stories happening in their own lives. Storytelling can open the doorways to the imagination and meaningful discussions, providing perfect opportunities for the development of empathy and compassion, provide emotional support, contribute to confidence building, encourage creative problem solving, and inspire personal growth. Storytelling has always been in the fabric of my upbringing and I have shared my love of storytelling with my two sons (who are now young adults), and with young children throughout my teaching career to stir imaginations and promote a healthy sense of well-being, competence, and compassion. It seemed only natural that I would contribute somehow to telling a story to instill compassion to help stop bullying.
When I began “Caring and Courageous Kids” in 2009 while teaching as a speech-language therapist, the first thing I did was to begin building a lending library of books for parents and teachers on kindness, on special needs awareness, and on bullying to help with the recurring bullying problem some of my special needs students were experiencing. I thought a great way to begin creating a climate of caring and kindness in our school was to offer to go into the classrooms to read a story and have follow-up discussions on how to help stop bullying.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness (by Carol McCloud) was my first purchase and was a hit! It became our unofficial theme with the “bucket-filling” language becoming woven into the vernacular of the school. Being a bucket-filler means we are saying or doing things which help others feel good, feel happy, and fills their bucket (heart) with good thoughts and feelings, whereas bucket-dipping is saying or doing something which dips into our bucket (heart) and takes away those good feelings causing sadness, confusion, hurt, or anger. Bullying is bucket-dipping at its worst because it not a mistake, it is a choice with the intention to make someone feel bad, sad, scared or embarrassed.
I realized that the storytelling I offered in the classrooms was beginning to make a difference when children began lining up at my door during recess for help with their bullying issues, or stopping me in the hallways to thank me for reading in their classroom, or even bringing me a picture that they made about bucket-filling or peace! It seemed most of the students were so thirsty for knowledge on what to say or do when confronted with bullying and they loved having someone to talk to about it. When kids couldn’t remember my name they would refer to me as “The Peace Lady”!
I felt compelled to take this simple, yet powerful, concept of “bucket filling” and “bucket dipping” and apply it to the complex topic of bullying by writing my own story to use as a teaching tool. It was first put on as a play (using adult actors) and then I revised it and created a movie which I planned to use for my after-school classes because once the movie was done I could use it over and over, have discussions between the scenes, and create lessons plans and projects for each scene. (See Guidebook) The story expands on, and integrates, the “bucket-filling” concept in the story to teach about becoming more mindful, and kindfull, of our choices to promote peaceful, positive, compassionate relationships with others.
Bullying often begins right in our own friendships (or families). With guidance, children will learn to recognize the difference between friendships or relationships which are healthy, nurturing, bucket-filling friendships, or those which are unhealthy, toxic, abusive, bullying. With effective support and coaching from adults who have also learned the difference, children can learn boundary setting and other important Emotional Intelligence skills which will serve them throughout their lives for emotional and physical well-being.
The actual story is about some elementary school students who are experiencing the detrimental effects of bucket-dipping and bullying within their own friendship circle in their school. When a teacher leaves the classroom, Tina has an opportunity to bully her friend Kiara, and it’s probably not the first time. The other children are powerless to stop her, or are they? Along comes a Coach to help them learn how to “exercise their brains” and become “Champions” in their relationships with one another. He introduces “BF”, the Bucket-filling team leader, and “Dip”, the Bucket-dipping team leader who seem to get in our brains and they both try to get us on their team! BF encourages the children to “be smart, use your heart!” to help them practice using a caring and courageous heart in making choices when confronted with bullying in their friendship circles. Coach and BF help the children understand that everything people do or say is by choice, and can either add to the problem of bullying, or help the problem go away. According to the scoreboard, their choices quickly added up and contributed to the bullying problem, putting them on the team they never dreamed they would be on –“Dip’s” team. Is it hopeless to think they can change and be on BF’s team? How will they ever remember what to do? Is it too late to “flip the dip?”
Through the art of storytelling, “Which Team Will You Choose?” is a story to be used as a teaching tool to help teach valuable life-skills and is now being shared with other story-lovers around the world who are looking for peaceful practices to create a kinder, happier world for children! It’s a fun and educational story which inspires children (and their grown-ups at school and home) to discover the power within each one of us to help stop “bucket-dipping”! Imagine how different things could be. Wouldn’t you love to have a school or home filled with Champions of Bucket-filling?! What are you waiting for? Buy it! Gift it! Show it! Share it! Peace ~ pass it on!
“Which Team Will You Choose?” complements any existing social-emotional learning programs or bullying prevention programs you already have in place, or helps inspire you to get one started. It will also help families practice becoming a “bucket-filling family” together!
Purchase your copy now! The dvd and guidebook are also available as a fundraiser. Ask me how!
Watch for the NEW online Membership site with more lesson plans, projects, and more coming by August 2014!
DVD (45 min) “Which Team Will You Choose?”
GUIDEBOOK: “One Caring and Courageous Choice at a Time” (dvd included with purchase of book)
RELATED BLOG: Buckets Full of Happiness: Filling self-esteem so high!
The mission of Caring and Courageous Kids is to awaken and inspire the hearts and minds of young children through adults to bring mindfulness and compassion into daily living with the intention to help stop bullying and start contributing to a more peaceful and compassionate culture in our homes, schools, and communities. Let’s raise the bar on compassion and commit to get Compassion-Fit.
Dee DiGioia is a Bullying Prevention Specialist and Compassion Life-Coach who founded “Caring and Courageous Kids”. Through public speaking, workshops, classes, and coaching, Dee is empowering young children through adults around the world with valuable life-skills to reduce the effects of bullying and abuse, while contributing to a more peaceful and compassionate culture to help make the world a better place, beginning with our world at home and school. She offers a challenge to get “Compassion-Fit.” It’s not just about changing children. It’s about changing the mindset of a culture.