In our hectic and busy lives, the right words can provide some much needed inspiration and reflection to recharge our souls. One such example are the words on the embrace virtues cards, the product of a local team. The cards are described as reminders of the gifts inside. And honestly, there are days when I need reminding. Although I’m generally a positive person, sometimes life overwhelms me and I can be impatient, resentful and quick to anger. I’m not proud of these moments and wish I could better control these negative emotions and be a better role model to my child.

The character development of a child is a key focus of the embrace virtues project and was originally conceived as a community project to support new parents. The cards are a beautifully illustrated series of cards. The cards are non-denominational and not affiliated with any religion. Each of the 26 cards contains an affirmation of universal character traits such as patience, respect, trust and generosity. These traits were judged to be the most relevant to the development of a child and their family. On each card, there is a description of the character trait. On the reverse of the card are details of how to practice the particular virtue and an affirmation to repeat to yourself or your children. For example, the patience card encourages one to calmly tolerate a delay or mistake and accept things you can’t change with humour and grace.

Patience

I reviewed the cards and was impressed by the thoughtful and inspiring words on each card. They compelled me to think about what it means to be a good mother, partner, daughter, sister, friend, neighbour and citizen. I also thought about the values that I wish to instil in my child and realised how important it is that my actions match my words. It’s not enough to say to your child that they should be kind, generous and respectful. As parents, we also have to model that behaviour. As the saying goes “Children are like sponges. They absorb everything.” How can I teach my child to be a good person if I’m unkind, selfish or disrespectful on occasion?

Although all the cards contained valuable words, there were a few cards that especially resonated with me. These cards were Patience, Purposefulness and Peacefulness. As I read the affirmations out loud, I realised that I needed to incorporate these into my daily life and achieve some calm and balance. By focusing on these qualities, I’m finding myself more aware of my emotions. This enables me to manage better in challenging situations and rather than react negatively, approach it in a positive and constructive manner. I also loved the Generosity card which emphasises the idea of sharing and giving without the expectation of reward.

On the subject of generosity, there is also an embrace virtues gift range. This range is designed to assist with peaceful parenting. These gifts encourage individuals and families to practice these virtues in their daily life. There are some beautiful items which would be ideal as a present for a newborn, christening, birthday or Christmas.

EmbraceVirtues

The Cuddle Peace Doll is a perfect gift for an expecting couple. This doll made out of organic hemp and cotton is designed to sleep with the couple before the baby is born to absorb their body scent. It is then given to the newborn baby to provide familiar comfort. There’s also a Sounds of Virtues CD which can be played in the background while you’re with your baby or child. It details each of the virtues and their affirmations to a backdrop of gentle music by pianist Terence Koo.

Surprisingly, one of my favourites was the Baby’s Prayer Book suitable to be read to babies and children. This book is a beautiful collection of prayers and blessings from variety of different faiths such as Christianity, Bahai, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. It demonstrates the commonalities of world religions and their focus on encouraging their disciples to live a virtuous life. I especially liked the blank page for to place your own family prayer or blessing. It’s a lovely gentle way to introduce a spiritual component to your child’s life.

I really believe in words as powerful tools of transformation. Without being moralising or preachy, the embrace virtues concept is a simple yet effective tool to remind one of what’s important in life. It encourages individuals to promote positive behaviours in everyday life starting with themselves and their own families. As Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

To find out the story behind embrace virtues or to purchase an embrace virtues product, visit the website http://embracevirtues.com. embrace virtues has generously provided a 20% discount coupon for online orders for readers of The Mummy Project. Enter the coupon code  MUMMYP05 at the embrace virtues checkout on the website and this will apply a 20% discount to everything in your order.

For more information about embrace virtues , read my Q&A with Di James, Director of embrace virtues below.

 What is the philosophy behind embrace virtues ?

embrace virtues  is inspired by a vision of making character education available to all children. Virtues such as respect, patience, helpfulness and creativity are inherently present in every child and are therefore a wonderful tool to assist children to develop authentic self esteem and be the best person that they can be. The research tells us clearly that qualities such as determination, self-control, optimism and perseverance create successful human beings. So our team at embrace virtues is dedicated to making gift and resources available to help parents and educators fulfill the important role of educating our children’s characters.

Who is the team behind Embrace Virtues and how did it originate?

I was born and raised in Newcastle so I am very proud that all our products have been designed in Newcastle. We have exclusively used the skills of local artists, musicians and technical professionals and whenever possible we use local production options as well. Our core team is my daughter, Karie, (I love the idea of a mother/daughter team), our graphic designer and wonder woman, Louie Hahn, and our exceptionally talented artist, Carli Hyland. However embrace virtues attracts the support of a wide network of talented people who are dedicated to our vision and work with us to grow the next generation of great kids with great values.

In your opinion, what are the most important qualities that parents can teach their children?

Gosh I want to say ‘all the virtues’, but if I have to be specific I would start with integrity, love, and respect. The interesting thing is that when parents start working with the virtues for their children they notice how their own actions and attitudes change and they educate themselves as well. It is a wonderful and transformative process and adds an incredible dimension of peace and harmony to family life and relationships in general.

How can parents use the Virtues cards for themselves and their children?

A good way to start is to select a virtue for the week. Talk to the children about the specific meaning of that virtue (it is useful to have a set of virtues cards for this).   If the whole family agrees to practise that virtue during the week it is very powerful role modelling. Kids love to see the big people struggling to develop their own patience or gratitude or whatever, and it shows adult commitment to the process. Display the virtue in a prominent place and offer each other virtues acknowledgements e.g. Thank you for your helpfulness in clearing the table Sarah, I really appreciate that you did it without being asked.’ Become aware of using the actual words of the virtue because sadly this vocabulary is disappearing from family and community life.

What age can parents start using the Virtues cards with their children?

You actually can’t start too early – even before birth is good – but definitely as soon as a baby is born start using the actual words of the virtues. ‘Mummy really appreciates your patience while you wait for your nappy to be changed.’ This is the start of developing the child’s character and enabling them to begin to associate the word ‘patience’ with the act of being patient. The first three years are the critical time when the baby’s brain is establishing millions of neuron pathways so it is the golden opportunity to begin to shape character. The longer we leave it the harder it is – but it is also never too late to start!

Do you have a favourite card and if so, what is it?

All of the virtues definitions are inspired and inspirational and I love them all. They were developed by Linda Popov of the Virtues Project International, and are a true gift to humanity. However one of my special favourites is Gentleness. It is described this way: ‘Gentleness is moving wisely, touching softly, holding carefully, speaking quietly and thinking kindly. When you feel angry or hurt, use your self-control. Instead of harming someone, talk things out peacefully. You are making the world a safer, gentler place.’ Isn’t that beautiful?

 In addition to the Virtue cards, you have gift items such as Cuddle Peace Doll, CDs and Baby Prayer Book. How can these gifts be used?

Cuddle Peace doll is made of natural hemp and organic cotton so it has no chemicals and is a safe pacifier for baby – especially if it has been close to the mother’s body where the hollow core fibre of hemp absorbs the mother’s scent and vibration. I love the ‘Sound of Virtues CD’ because it has all the virtue definitions spoken to the background of calming original music created by our local Newcastle composer and musician, Terrance Koo. Playing this CD in the home or the car is wonderfully calming and inspiring and it is educative at the same time. I play it is my car all the time and I have marveled many times at the calming effect on difficult situations and overstimulated kids. The Baby’s Prayer Book is appreciated as a Naming Ceremony or Christening gift because it nurtures the child’s spirit without being attached to a particular religion. It teaches children to value and appreciate the diversity of many faiths and traditions – which by the way all offer the same message of peace and harmony.

I understand that embrace virtues offers educational resources and sessions for schools, pre-schools and day care centres.  Is there information available for parents to inform their educational centre about embrace virtues ?

Yes, an important part of our work is making character education as easy and accessible as possible to parents and educators. Our Large Format Virtues cards are a great teaching resource and my new book ‘Growing Great Kids’ makes it very easy to start virtues education in early childhood centres or homes. It is available as a download from our web site. We also offer the Virtues Cards as a Fund Raiser for schools. This is a good opportunity to raise funds for the school at the same time as introducing virtues to families and into the school program. Information about the fundraiser is available on our web site.

You’ve also launched a Home Based Entrepreneur program. Can you explain what this is about?

We are very excited about our Home Based Entrepreneur Program that is to be launched later this month. This will enable many trained facilitators to introduce virtues education to families and provide resources to support them. Entrepreneurs will receive training in virtues education and facilitation as well as expertise in running a successful home based business. An Information Brochure is available on our web site.

For more information, visit the website http://embracevirtues.com.