Category Archives: The Global Village

on Teaching Gratitude to Children

Hi Dads!

I am so thrilled and excited to be here with you all, and to be able to write for HeadsUpDad.

In fact, I feel so grateful about it that I think I’d like to write about Gratitude. Gratitude and Appreciation are enormously important qualities for parents to instill in their kids, but most often all that folks can manage to teach them is polite manners. And while it’s nice to see a kid say “Thanks” when someone passes him the butter, that’s not exactly what I mean here. This is especially true today, because parents don’t spend as much effort teaching polite behavior as they once did.  But your grandparents probably didn’t care too much about how deeply their kids felt appreciation – they just washed your parents’ mouths out with soap if they happened to not use the right words at the right times! No, this generation really tends to care a lot more about teaching values, rather than just prescribed behavior. But the problem is, how can anyone teach that?! The crazy answer is – you really can’t. Kids are kids, and there’s a certain level of unthinking selfishness that just comes with the territory (along with incredible sweetness, as you know). And if little Julie finds exactly what she wanted under her Christmas tree, she’s going to be a lot more interested in the immediate joy of playing with it than she is in the deeper pleasure of writing a beautiful thank you letter for it!

Your job, since you can’t really teach gratitude, is to help foster a growth of that sense for when the child matures.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that:

1. Teach by example.

Papas, you’ll hear me say this one over and over and over.  About 90% of what kids learn from their parents comes from observation (which is, of course, how kids manage to learn to walk and talk, two of the most astounding achievements of any human’s life).  If you live with a sense of gratitude, your children will pick up on that. When your babysitter makes the kids dinner because you forgot to leave something in the fridge, do you just accept that, or really thank her for going the extra mile?  When someone in traffic lets you cut in, do you give a ‘thank you’ wave?  Your kid will see what you do, and learn from it.  And even more importantly, do you show gratitude to your kid when they do something kind?  That’s the best lesson of all.

2. Talk about Gratitude when it is expressed by others.

When you throw a poker party for some buddies, and one of them emails you the next morning to thank you for it, mention to your kid how good that made you feel.

3. Let them help you with acts of gratefulness.

I know this is a bit phony, but it’s still good:  Let’s say you want to send out a bunch of letters thanking people who’ve helped you in your work this year.  Have your kid stuff the envelopes or put the stamps on.  They’ll get the idea that thank you letters are what cool grownups like Daddy do.

4. Apologize when you forget to be grateful yourself.

All humans make mistakes, and there will always be times when you forget to thank someone, or even to feel as grateful as you should. Let your child see you catch yourself in that error. And let them see you apologize and try to make up for it. That’s a huge teacher.

5. Teach them gratitude by rote.

Okay, and the boring one: Yes, I’m saying that you should teach your ungrateful little brats to say “Thank You” for getting the butter passed to them, and to write letters thanking Aunt Martha for the boring book she gave them, and even to thank their teacher for giving them extra homework to help them master something they’re having trouble with in school.  No, they won’t feel the gratitude at all.  But they will learn the right ways and times to express it when they do.

And then, I also want to add a big “Don’t” to this list.  Do Not Guilt Trip!  Children live in a world that’s all about themselves.  They’ll grow out of it, and you should encourage that, but don’t make them feel bad for not being there yet.  Telling them things like “You ought to feel more grateful” or “You’re too self-centered,” or worst of all “You’re spoiled, you got too many presents” don’t teach Gratitude; they teach Shame, which is the total opposite (If you really feel your kid got too many presents for her birthday, then be the adult and tell her there’s simply been a mistake, and she needs to give five of her toys to others.  It’s not her fault!).

Then, of course, the best role model any kid can ever have for Gratitude is one of us!  We dogs will show how much we appreciate every treat, every scratch on the head, and every time you let us in the house – every time!  And oh do we let you know we appreciate you humans when you come home from school or work!  And the more that your kid sees us do that, and senses how much they love the way our gratitude makes them feel (yes I’m emphasizing that thought!), the sooner they’ll develop a healthy sense of empathy, which will lead them to the true sense of gratitude you want them to own.

So those are my thoughts. Good luck with them. And in the meantime, from the bottom of my heart…

Thanks for reading!

 

About the author:

Shirelle is a busy dog. In between her posts from the Dog House at HeadsUpDad, she hosts a great web site offering friendly, down-to-earth advice for kids, teens, and parents called AskShirelle. Please check it out.

 

 

Six Reasons Dads Should Attend Word11

Blogging has grown up since the early days of the internet, but it has never ceased being part of a larger conversation. Unfortunately, most of this conversation can be found on, well, blogs.

Word11 wants to show bloggers how much they can learn from the plain old art of conversation. As the world’s first 24-hour blogging event, it has combined keynote speakers with tons of opportunities for informal discussion.

Here’s 6 reasons why dad bloggers should attend the event:

1) Open to veterans and newcomers alikeWord11

You won’t have to be an expert in social media to find a worthwhile conversation at Word11. There’s over 37,000 bloggers in Toronto, so there’s a good chance you’ll find someone with similar interests. Or maybe you’re looking for an expert. In that case, you might find them here.

2) Relaxed, informal setting

Word11 understands that some bloggers already have jobs and don’t want to engage in the tedium of “networking.” The 24-hour nature of the event encourages attendees to mingle freely and even let their conversations spill into the neighbouring areas of downtown Toronto. Oh, and you can bet there’ll be a trending topic on Twitter to discuss all of the ongoing meetups.

3) Presentation streams

The conference has been divided into three “streams” to better accommodate attendees. Each stream is targetted toward bloggers with different levels of experience, from complete novices to seasoned veterans.

The biggest strength of streams is that they place you with similar people, making conversations much easier to start. Sure you’ll hear from 13 high profile bloggers, but insight from a person in a similar situation can be even more valuable.

4) Accommodating schedule

Word11 is a 24-hour event, so you can expect things to be happening at all points in the day. Even if you come late, Word11 is hosting an all-nighter, which they can only describe as an “outdoor campground for bloggers.” For your convenience, the event is taking place on a Saturday.

5) It’s easy to find out who’s going

Chances are most people attending this event will broadcast that fact on their different social networks. If your favourite blogger isn’t going, use the event as an excuse to meet them! There’s also a chance Word11 will publish the registration list, showing who is confirmed guest.

 

6) Convenient location (downtown Toronto)

Word11 is being hosted at two venues in downtown Toronto: one in the morning and one in the evening. Fortunately, both are within walking distance of each other and are easily accessible by public transit. For anyone driving, there are ample parking spots near both venues.

Word11’s mix of formal speakers and informal discussions is set to make the event a valuable learning experience for all bloggers. So call up your babysitter and tell your kids you’re headed for a day of personal enrichment!

For those interested, here’s a handy itinerary of the event:

http://word11.com/itinerary/

 

FLOWING WITH THE GOOD GUYS

It was with great sadness that I read about the recent Norwegian terrorist attacks. A tragic ordeal for any country to have to experience, yet there was a point in the story where I found one Norwegian’s comment to be equally absurd as the attacks were cruel. A woman’s response to the killings was, “Why are they killing us? We’re the good guys!” Most of us think the same way; we are the good guys, the ones who know what’s best or what is right. Adolf Hitler was convinced that his Nazi movement was the best solution for the world’s problems. And through his eyes, it was. The same can be said for Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush and it is with this lack of awareness upon which most of mankind operates.

Albeit slowly, an increasing number of the world’s population is adopting a different viewpoint (or philosophy, or truth) that there is no right and no wrong, there simply is. This is not to say that whatever happens in the world is acceptable. It is to understand that only the flow of nature exists and that everything happening is a part of that flow. It is the understanding that there are no shoulds or shouldn’ts, only choices. The difference is that should’s and shouldn’t’s are constructs of our mind, while clear choices (I will or I won’t) come from the heart.

I recently witnessed a parent become very frustrated, claiming that her toddler was supposed to listen to her, as if it were her child’s job. In reality, her child’s only job is to act naturally, which is to be aware in some moments and unaware in other moments. If the mother chooses to parent consciously, then it is in fact her job to find a way to be in relationship with her child, discovering ways to flow with both her child’s awareness and lack thereof.

Essentially, life is about relationships, or how we relate to each of our experiences. Have you ever experienced physical pain and thought “This shouldn’t be happening!”? When we don’t flow with nature, believing that something should or shouldn’t be happening, we create suffering for ourselves. A common reaction I’ve seen after reading of earthquakes is “Why would God make such a thing happen!?” Conversely I recall many comments made of the Japanese response to their recent earthquake/tsunami experience, as they largely exemplified acceptance around what happened, while then responding to what needed attention. When we flow with nature, working with what is, we create more ease for ourselves.

Consider that all the ‘unnatural’ deaths that have ever occurred are serving to build our global collective pain that is now bringing about our planet’s current shift in consciousness. Consider that every cubic ton of pollution we’ve created thus far is serving to awaken us to the point where we once again realize the true value of our planet. Many sacrifices have been made in order to create the opportunity that lies before us all. Consider that there is no right and no wrong—only countless opportunities to, through awareness, healthfully flow with what is. After all, we’re all the good guys, each of us sharing a common desire: to be happy, as each of us does our best to find our way.

Toxic Chemicals in personal skin care products?

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I have been doing a lot of gardening over the past couple of months and it has been great. Lots of fresh air, hard work and I am learning a lot.

It’s killing my hands though. Shovelling, digging, gettting dirty, washing, getting dirty. Washing again has taken its toll. I use a lot of moisturizers but it does not seem to make much of a difference. It feels good once I put products on, but as soon as my hands are back in the dirt and back into the tap water, dry as a bone and chafing. It occurred to me that maybe these moisturizers aren’t really doing such a great job after all.

After looking into some other more effective options for skincare products that might heal my busy, abused hands, I learned a lot that really surprised and alarmed me. Did you know, that most of the products you buy at the drugstore, or at the grocery store, contain a bunch of nasty stuff that is toxic and harmful to humans? The more I dug, the more I discovered how everyday personal care products are laced with stuff you would never want in your bloodstream if you knew it was there.

If only we knew about the hidden toxic chemicals that can be found in everyday personal care products… Chemicals that are cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting and allergy-inducing.

The presence of these toxins isn’t new:

They have been there all along.

We think it’s time to shed the light on the hidden, dangerous toxins that exist in body care products for men. But we need your help. We need you to roll up your sleeves and help us flag the products that you would like to know more about.

Cologne, bar soap, deodorant, shaving cream. These are all common products that we use everyday. Used by us, by our sons, brothers, fathers or husbands. On a daily basis, these products are rubbed and absorbed into our skin, with very lax regulations on the ingredients used to make them.

Environmental Defense

Environmental Defense is an organization that looks after us, fights for us and helps make the government take action on our behalf. Their new Just Beautiful campaign is all about testing products we use everyday to see just how safe they are to put on our skin. How safe are the personal products we use on our bodies? The answer: nobody knows. The cosmetic business is a deregulated wild west.

They would like to test ten common products that are part of the basic morning routine many men go through on a daily basis. And, reveal their findings to you.

As a parent myself with a young daughter and two small boys, I want to know whether the products I use daily are safe for me and for my kids. We thought you might too. With our children’s health in our hands, we need to ensure that we are taking each step we can to protect them – today, tomorrow and as they grow older. When we can’t do it for ourselves, its great to know that people like Rick Smith from Environmental Defence has got our backs. He did it already with Bisphenol A in Baby Bottles and now he is on the case searching for hidden toxins that we know are lurking in our everyday personal care products.

By identifying the ingredients hidden in these products, we can continue to push for stronger federal regulations and accountability. But, this research will not be cheap.

As each product is put through a series of laboratory tests to detect different chemicals, testing will cost $710 per product.

Can we count on you to help Environmental Defense make men’s personal care products safe from harmful chemicals? Will you make a donation today?

Each gift will help cover the cost of a product to be tested. And, what better time than to do it today!

How to heal your dry, chapped skin without slathering on harmful toxins?

If you are looking for some great options for effective skin care products that are all natural, non toxic and free from dark, hidden secrets there are options out there. They are just not as easy to find. One place you can look is Made From Earth Organics.


I have been using some of their products recently and I really love them. I have a couple of bars of lovely soap that gets me and my kids dirty hands clean without drying them to a chafe. I also use an amazing face wash that cools, cleans and refreshes after a long day without stripping your skin of its natural moisture. I am a chapstick guy who always travels with one in my pocket and another in my car. You will love theirs. Blows the drugstore variety off the shelf. The only problem is, now that I am addicted to these, I will never be able to buy a cheap and cheerful drugstore product again.

Do you have any questions, products you would like Environmental Defense to test or men’s grooming products you would like us to review and share with our audience?

Please feel free to comment below, email me directly or send us a tweet @HeadsUp_Dad

How Evergreen is Rehabilitating our Cities—Brick by Brick

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Evergreen Brickworks Toronto, originally uploaded by HeadsUp_Dad.

Happy Earth day Everyone!

In the spirit of tipping our hat to the place that gives us everything we need to sustain life, today’s post is going to relate to Environmental Stewardship of our planet. Specifically, the essential role we play as parents, cultivators and influencers of future generations.

We at Headsup Dad do not want to spend a lot of time protesting or complaining about things. We know what is looming. Lots of very bright and knowledgeable people are covering the story. We are more interested in learning from these people, learning from past mistakes (our own, and those that are made by others), seeking out the opportunities for positive outcomes and finding or creating the path towards the light at the end of the tunnel—and moving forward with purpose and conviction.

There is not much we can do to influence what has come before us, but we can influence what happens next.

With that in mind, its time we took a serious look what we have to deal with in terms of global warming and climate change, what we as parents can do to make the changes that are necessary to set the stage for improvement, and help empower our kids with the knowledge and tools to dig themselves out of the situation that has been created for them over the past 150 or 200 years. It begins at home, with our kids and in our own back yards. In our parks, and our forests and our fields. In our rivers, lakes and oceans. In the country, in our towns and in our cities. Everywhere we look there is opportunity for change.

HeadsUp Dad: Environmental Stewardship at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

Kidseye View from the Top at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

What we do today affects the cities we live in tomorrow.

Since 1991 Evergreen has been engaging Canadians in creating and sustaining dynamic outdoor spaces—in schools, communities and homes. By deepening the connection between people and nature, and empowering Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, Evergreen is improving the health of our cities—now and for the future.

The Evergreen Brick Works is a unique environmental community centre and green cities centre for urban sustainability. Currently under construction in the heart of Toronto’s Don River Valley, this spectacular natural and industrial heritage site and its ongoing engaging programming from Farmers’ Markets to seminars and plantings, is already inspiring and educating the community to embrace a sustainable future.

When we celebrate its grand opening in September, 2010, the Brick Works will be a showcase for green building design, environmental stewardship and a model for sustainability.

The revitalized turn of the century Brickworks compound will feature an ecologically diverse area with lots of history, a fine example of urban renewal and naturalization, a bunch of really old buildings and one brand spanking new new structure—the Centre for Urban Sustainability—a five-storey LEED platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) office building.

Aspiring to the very highest standard within the LEED certification scale, this building will be an international destination for those interested in sustainable built environments. Evergreen, along with community partners, will be housed together in this hub of social and environmental innovation.

HeadsUp Dad visits the Brickworks in Toronto

Kids Adventure in the City at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

Evergreen’s mission is to bring communities and nature together for the benefit of both.

Evergreen envisions a sustainable society where individuals live in harmony with and contribute meaningfully to their local environment. Evergreen will be at the forefront of the movement to create this society, by empowering communities, by creating innovative resources and by transforming educational values.

No mind is too small to sow the seeds of change.

At HeadsUp Dad, we believe that the continued existence of the human race on this planet is going to depend on how well we educate and inspire our kids to become aware and in awe of the world that we live in. To know nature is to love it, love leads to respect, and to respect is to take ownership of and stewardship over the gifts that we have been given. Knowledge leads to action and that the more that people know about the effects of their actions, the more likely they are to think about what they do.

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Wyatt's pal Milo having a blast at the Brickworks in Toronto

Evergreen is a not-for-profit organization that makes cities more livable. Corporate sponsorship, private donations and public support make its programs possible—Volunteers help drive its programs forward.

Volunteering at Evergreen offers you and your family a great opportunity to help the environment right in your own community. Come out and get your hands dirty, meet a few new friends and… make a difference. Evergreen has events planned in communities across Canada all summer long and they could use your help. Get outside, have fun, teach your kids about the wonderful world we live in and help a worthy cause.

Evergreen volunteers help out with a wide range of hands-on activities:

  • local plantings
  • community gardens
  • food gardens
  • invasive species pulls
  • greenspace stewardship
  • special projects and fundraising events
  • research
  • community or school presentations
  • outreach at local events
  • office and administrative work
HeadsUp Dad, Environmental Stewardship

What was once an industrial wasteland is now a vibrant ecosystem and nature park in the heart of the city

To learn more about stewardship and planting events and other volunteer opportunities in your area, visit the Evergreen Website.

Click here to see a list of some of their current volunteer opportunities. Take a look at their calendar. Please take your time and look for something you might enjoy doing with your kids on a sunny Sunday afternoon. See what fits into your life. Reach out, connect, let them know what you are interested in volunteering, or even better, apply to a role that suits you! You can complete and submit a Volunteer Application Form right on their website.

Together, we as parents can work together to create a culture of appreciation and respect of our natural environment. By getting engaged and supporting organizations like Evergreen, we all can look forward to a healthier, more sustainable future in which people and nature thrive together.

Do you have any photos of your kids outdoors, enjoying play and learning about the wonders of their natural environment?

Send them in to us here at HeadsUpDad, we’ll post them for all of us to share and enjoy—who knows, maybe it will lead to something fun for you and your family.

Go on, get out there!

Brandkarma – Social media on a mission

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Brand Karma was started in an attempt to help answer two basic questions – what kind of a world do you want to live in and what kind of a world do you want to leave your kids?  They’re important questions, far too important to leave to governments, regulators, experts and business leaders to answer by themselves. Time for another voice at the table that we can all be part of.

Enter Brandkarma – a social media platform on a mission – ‘to help everyone make better brand choices and to influence brand behavior for good’.

We all know that our purchase decisions have consequences. And most of us want to do the right thing, everything considered, if only we knew where to start.

Just like the underlying philospohy here at HeadsUp Dad, it makes perfect sense that we all should help each other.  More and more, we rely on family, friends, colleagues and ‘strangers like me’ to inform our decisions.

Brandkarma makes it easy for us to share, amplify and mobilize our opinions around brands.  I believe there’s wisdom in the crowd and that together we can make the world a better place – one Dad, one family, one community and one brand at a time.

Brandkarma – Social media on a mission – to help everyone make better brand
choices and influence brand behavior for good.

Go check it out, sign up and say your piece.