A Full Bucket

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (August 10, 2013)


In all my experiences as an educator, I have never experienced what I did last week. I had taught a class for a week and at the end of the last lesson, as I was dismissing students, one of my 9-year-old students burst into tears. I didn’t know what had happened so I asked her why she was crying. In between her sobbing uncontrollably and gasping for air, she answered me. She said she was crying because she didn’t want to leave class!


In all my years of teaching, I’ve had students feel disappointed when there was a typhoon or fell ill and couldn’t come to class but never had a student cry so hard because she didn’t want to leave class. Of course, I was touched that she felt so emotional about leaving class but I was more shocked than anything else, largely because I had been very strict with this particular student. Over the course of the week that I taught her, I disciplined her when she was doing something out of line by having her sit out of fun activities when she didn’t cooperate. She soon learnt that to have fun, she had to comply with certain rules.


Thinking that she didn’t enjoy being disciplined, I certainly didn’t expect her to be so emotional about leaving class. But this experience has taught me two myths about discipline:


Myth #1: Discipline = Not Loving

I think some people feel that the action of disciplining a child is not being loving. I’d like to say quite the opposite. I think that giving a child boundaries and disciplining them IS an act of love. We discipline children because we want them to learn to respect rules, to respect others and to learn correct behaviours. If a child is running around screaming at a restaurant, the loving thing for a parent to do IS to discipline them because loving them means wanting the best for them which means teaching them behaviours that will benefit them. Having a child run around in a restaurant may feel good for the child but isn’t good for them in the long run as they are learning proper social behaviours.


So, Discipline = Loving.


Myth #2: Discipline = Shouting

We often associate disciplining a child with shouting, screaming or being angry. The best types of discipline aren’t any of those things. Discipline should be an implementation of consequences for misbehaving in the form of taking something away that the child likes or giving them something they don’t like. So in the case of me with the 9-year-old girl, after clearly explaining the rules of an activity, when she chose not to abide to them, the discipline action was to take away the privilege of participating in the game. I didn’t raise my voice or get emotional, just matter-a-factly exercised the discipline.


So, Discipline = Being Calm


But one important thing I’ve learnt about disciplining is that is has to be done with a full bucket. Imagine every person having an imaginary bucket of love. With every encouraging phrase and action, you fill this person’s love bucket up. When you tell this person you believe in them, you fill their love bucket. When you hug this person, you fill their love bucket. When you spend quality time with them, you fill their love bucket. Everyone has a love bucket but the difference in these buckets is how full they are.


What I’ve learnt about this bucket is that it’s healthy for it to be full. A full love bucket means the person feeling secure, feeling loved, feeling confident. Discipline is a loving action but to the person with the bucket, it feels like it’s taking something out of the bucket. So with discipline, we must either fill the bucket before disciplining or refill the bucket after disciplining. For example, if a child doesn’t follow the rules of a game, the scenario might look something like this:


Discipline = don’t get to play in game

Filling love bucket = saying “what you did was wrong and I hope you won’t do it again because I believe you’re capable of following rules and I want you to have fun in the game with others” and perhaps giving them a hug


So, disciplining children in a calm manner is a loving thing to do but make sure you fill their bucket!



#Self-control #love #discipline #play #rules #misbehave #scold #calm #relationship

滿桶愛


上星期,我經歷了一件在教學生涯中從未發生過的事。我教了一個七天的短期班,就在最後一節課完結的時候,有個九歲學生不知為何突然放聲大哭,我便上前慰問她。她一邊失聲抽泣和喘息,一邊回答──原來她因為不想離開這課堂而哭!


在我多年的教學生涯中,我遇過因颱風或生病不能上課而感到失望的學生,但從未遇過因為不想課程完結而大哭的學生。她為課程結束而這麼激動當然令我感動,但我更為驚訝的是因為平日我對這個學生特別嚴厲。在過去一週,當她做了不適當的行為或不合作時,我便要她在有趣的活動中坐開來,她很快便學會要遵守規則才能享受活動樂趣。


我一直以為她不喜歡被管制,完全意料不到她會為離開而這麼激動。不過這經驗也加深了我對於兩個關於紀律管教的傳言的認識:


傳言(一):紀律管教=沒有愛

有些人會覺得以有紀律地管教孩子的行為並不是愛的表現,我想說的卻剛好相反。我認為給予孩子適當的限制和管教絕對是表現愛的行為。我們管教孩子,因為希望他們學會尊重規則、尊重他人和學習正確的行為。假如小孩子在餐廳內亂跑亂叫,家長愛的表現是要管教他們。愛錫孩子的意思是希望他們能得到最好的,所以教導他們作出對他們有益的行為當然也是愛的表現。孩子正在學習正確的社會行為,任意在餐廳內奔跑可能會讓他們感到快樂,可是長遠來說對他們卻毫無益處。


因此,紀律管教=愛。


傳言(二):紀律管教=大聲喝罵

我們常常把紀律管教聯繫到大聲喝罵、叫喊或發怒,然而最好的紀律管教並不包括以上任何一項。紀律管教應該是在孩子作出不適當行為後,以拿走他們喜歡的東西或給予他們不喜歡的東西作為後果。在我和這個九歲女孩的相處中,當她選擇不遵守已清楚解釋的活動規則時,相應的紀律行動便是拿走她參與遊戲的權利。我沒有提高我的聲線或情緒,只是實事求是地行使紀律。


因此,紀律管教=保持平靜。


我們要謹記在紀律管教時必須盛着滿桶愛去進行。試想像每個人心裏都有一個愛的桶子,每句鼓勵性的句子和每個鼓勵性的行動,都能填進這個人的愛的桶子裏;擁抱他和與他共享歡樂的時光。每個人心裏都有一個盛着愛的桶子,分別只是在於它們有多滿。


我知道令這個桶子常滿是一件非常健康的事情。一個盛滿愛的桶子表示那個人感到安全、被愛和有信心。紀律管教是一個充滿愛的行動,可是對那個桶子的主人而言,可能會覺得被人從桶子內拿走了愛。因此我們必須在管教之前或之後填補他的心靈桶子。例如當一個小孩不遵守遊戲規則,情形應該像這樣:


紀律管教=不允許繼續參與遊戲。


填補愛的桶子=對他說:「你剛剛做了錯事,我希望你不會重蹈覆轍,因為我相信你有能力遵守規則,我也希望你能在與其他人一起的遊戲中得到快樂。」然後或許能再給他們一個擁抱。


其實以平靜的方式管教孩子是件充滿愛的事情,但請確保你會時刻填補他們的小桶。

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