Oh, the appeal. I am well versed in this one, but not always in the best ways. I’m one of those hard headed, gets her way kind of gals but I’ve changed from running over anyone in my path to genuinely considering whether or not I am being respectful in how I am going about my appeal.
Yesterday, I wrote the following:
Appeals are appropriate only when done in a respectful manner
While we need to be firm in our directives at these young ages, we also need to give our children an appropriate and respectful way to appeal. This is not teaching manipulation; rather, it is giving them a pattern to follow that is biblical, respectful, and obedient. It also gives us some breathing room as parents. It gives us an opportunity to pull back on something we said inappropriately or too quickly while still enforcing the truth of our position of authority.
I want to break down the 4 steps of teaching children how to respectfully appeal to authority since I’ve already addressed the other training methods for infancy to childhood (communication and the rod).
Our daughter is happily playing away with a new batch of Playdoh (homemade or gifted). She is in the throws of building some really awesome things but, alas, it’s time for dinner. With a new baby coming, I know that these are some of my last hot meals for awhile so we are going to eat when dinner is ready, doggone it. Aaand it’s family game night so after dinner we’ll all be playing Qwirkle together (even though she’s only 2, she LOVES Qwirkle). Playdoh will have to wait until tomorrow…
The Appeal, Step 1: You must obey immediately, not after appeal
When I ask my child to stop playing with her Playdoh and to clean it up so we can eat dinner, she needs to start cleaning up right away even if she wants to ask for more time. This simple act of obeying immediately opens the door for an appeal to be made because it is acknowledgement of my authority; she is demonstrating that I am to be obeyed.
The Appeal, Step 2: You must be prepared to obey either way
I might have a few more things to get done for dinner that could take a bit longer and thus extend her play time. When she asks if she can finish making that snowman, pancake, or worm before coming to dinner (our 3 favorite things to make right now!), I might say yes but only if she has first already shown that she is ready to obey.
The Appeal, Step 3: You must appeal in a respectful manner
Whining is unacceptable. Crying, pouting, or any sort of ridiculousness like that automatically voids the appeal. Tough cookies.
The Appeal, Step 4: You must accept the result of the appeal with a gracious spirit
I love what Tripp has to say about our response as parents:
It should be our habit to say “Yes” to a request unless there are good reasons to say “No”. It is easy to say “No” because we do not want to think through the implications of saying “Yes”.
Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
More often than not, I say yes to her appeals. If I tell her she can play a few more minutes, she’ll [obviously] happily comply and get right back to that snowman. If I tell her I actually need her to help me finish getting dinner ready – at this age, that means taking plates one at a time to the table – she must respond with an “Okay, Mama” or something along those lines without putting up a fight or mouthing back.
I talked back. A lot. It’s almost a running joke about how mouthy I was but at the same time, I am more than disappointed in myself. I don’t want my own daughter to grow up like me which is why I am so fortunate to spend most of her day with her, molding, discipling, and shepherding her. She still is stubborn (like mother like daughter!) but hopefully we can learn together how to keep that feisty spirit while tempering it with His grace.
This is part of a 31 day series of shepherding a child’s heart in 5 minutes a day (click here for the series intro). I pray this series edifies you as much as reading Tripp’s book has encouraged and challenged my husband and I in how we raise our children. Subscribe to the blog in the side bar if you’d like to get posts emailed to you in a weekly digest or subscribe on your favorite blog reader.