Last week we talked about things that can undermine a parent’s authority. High on that list is a child’s sense of injustice.
We always want our kids to obey immediately, cheerfully, and thoroughly, but we also want our older children to feel like they have a voice and that we are willing to hear them.
The Appeal is one way that parents can help fight against feelings of injustice and give kids a voice. Here’s how it works.
When a mature child has proven that he is able to obey immediately, cheerfully, and thoroughly on a very regular basis, and when that child has shown both wisdom and responsibility, he’s earned the right to make an appeal.
This has more to do with maturity than age. So a 9-year-old who regularly shows obedience, wisdom and responsibility (does chores without being asked, strives for excellence in housework and school work, is helpful and cheerful, etc.) earns the right to make an appeal. On the other hand, a sixteen year old, who is regularly disrespectful, irresponsible (loses her things, forgets to finish homework, leaves chores incomplete) and is disobedient does not have the right to make an appeal.
First Things First — Does Your Child Have NEW Information?
A child can make an appeal when he has been given an instruction, but he has more information that could change things. For example, you tell your son it’s time to go to bed, but he knows that he has a paper due in the morning that still needs one more revision. In that case, he has information you don’t have. He can say, “May I make an appeal?”
If the parent says no, the only acceptable response is, “Okay” and then immediate obedience. If the parent says, “yes” then the child can share the new information, in which case the parent may change the instruction (i.e. “Okay, you can stay up for an extra half hour.”) or not. If the parent does not change his or her mind, the child must obey without any further discussion.
Arguing is a Deal Breaker
Any form of arguing can cause a child to lose the privilege of making an appeal for a set amount of time (i.e. two weeks) until he can show that he obeys without question.
Keep in mind that an appeal can only be made if the child has new information the parent doesn’t have. Not feeling like doing what she’s been asked to do does not constitute new information. Wanting to play a game for five more minutes does not constitute new information. However, if a child is within minutes of finishing a very high level in a game that he has been working on for weeks, it could be considered new information.
Also, a child can only make an appeal to the parent who gave him the instruction. For example, if dad tells Sam to go rake the yard and does not grant an appeal, Sam can’t then appeal to mom.
Sit your kids down and teach them what The Appeal is and how to use it, and then give it a try. Stop by and leave a comment to let us know how it’s going.