Mom shares a beautiful positive parenting example when her 6-year-old was rude to her

No matter how great a parent you are and how well you teach your children how to behave, kids are occasionally going to be less-than-pleasurable to be around. They are human, after all. And they are engaged in an intense, years-long process of learning about being human, growing and change rapidly through various phases and stages.

As parents, it can be hard to figure out how to help them through all of that. Especially when they're pushing our own emotional buttons.

Mom and educator Dr. Chawanna B. Chambers— or "Dr. Chae," as she goes by on her website—shared a parenting tale from her own life that offers us all a beautiful example of how to teach a child who is seemingly acting disrespectful how to manage their responses. For many parents, a child talking back or being rude is met with immediate anger or sternness—perhaps an instinctual response from their own upbringing or beliefs about respecting our elders.

But for Chambers, her 6-year-old speaking rudely was an opportunity to teach a lesson about our brains and how we can head off a problematic interaction before it starts.

"I noticed that my 6-yo was being a lil rude/curt w/me, so I asked her what was up," Chambers wrote. "At first, she just looked at me, so I reiterated that I can't help her if I don't know what's wrong.


"Then I asked, 'Why are you being unkind to me? What happened?'

"She looked at me and said, 'I don't know,' and started crying. I told her, 'It's okay. Sometimes mommy just doesn't feel happy too. You're not in trouble. I just needed to know how to help.'"

Gold from the get-go. Even just asking the question, "Why are you being unkind to me?" invites a child to think through their thoughts and emotions in a way that doesn't put them in a space of fear or defensiveness. And having mom reiterate that she understands how it feels to not know why you're unhappy and share that she wants to help gives her daughter room to do this important work.

"She said, 'My brain tells me to be rude,'" Chambers went on. "I told her that's sort of how it happens for lots of people. When our emotions aren't happy, sometimes we take it out on others even when they don't deserve it.

"She asked, 'Wait. Your brain does it too?!' I told her yes, and then I asked her if I could teach her something that might help. She said yes, so I told her, 'When you aren't quite feeling right but don't want to be mean, you can say, "I'm not feeling my best self; I need a min."'"

Empathy. Compassion. Education. Concrete ideas for what to do instead of what they're doing. It's like a master class in positive, supportive parenting techniques.

Chambers continued:

"So, we practiced saying that over and over again until she felt better. She gave me a hug and stopped crying. I think about all the ways I *could've* responded, particularly a power trip bc 'I'm the adult,' but she needed to process something not even about me."

That right there is such a key thing that's easy to miss as a parent. So many times when our kids are expressing frustrations in our direction, they have nothing to do with us personally. We are merely a safe space for them to vent, and they may not even know why. That doesn't mean we should let them speak to us any old way they feel like it in the moment, but it does mean we can utilize that space to help them work through whatever they're feeling and figure out a different way of expressing themselves.

"Trying to be slower to projection or anger has really given me an opportunity to coach my children on emotional maturity," Chambers reflected. "Even at 6, she can learn how to challenge her own thoughts. She can learn how her brain works and the best ways to engage w/others."

Yes. Children are far better at this kind of emotional work than we give them credit for. It takes time and patience, but it pays off in the long run.

With a background in education, Chambers may have a leg up on many of us in terms of understanding child psychology and explaining it on a child's level, but that doesn't mean we can't all do our best to focus on empathy and education in our own parenting.

Not only does this kind of approach help kids learn how to manage their behavior, but it also strengthens bonds between parent and child. When your kiddo knows they can trust you to help them and not hurt them, when they get the message that their feelings are normal and they can learn to manage them, when they see that their mom or dad also have the same struggles they do sometimes and can help them through it, they know they've got support.

Our job is to teach them as the humans they are, not train them like animals at obedience school. And most importantly, we teach respect by exhibiting ourselves. When a child behaves in a way that's contrary to what we expect and what we've taught them, it usually means they're struggling with something. And nothing is more respectful than listening, acknowledging, empathizing, and helping when someone is clearly struggling.

Children learn what they live, as the saying goes. Thank you, Dr. Chae, for offering a beautiful example of what that looks like in action.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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