As our children get older, move into the teen years and learn to take on more responsibility, we want to give them more freedom to make more choices. If they have an issue with something or want us to reconsider a request that we’ve made, they need to know how to respectfully appeal to us. The wise appeal is a communication tool that children can use not only now with parents, but also for the rest of their lives at school, at work, and in marriage.
The wise appeal is a privilege for children who have learned First Time Obedience without complaining or arguing. The wise appeal technique is addressed in the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids, by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. When you ask your child to do something, they can ask if they can appeal your request. They can then use the following formula:
• I know you want me to_________________
• I have a problem with that because_______
• May I please_________________________
Let’s listen to this little slice of home life without an appeal. Fifteen-year-old Blake comes in from school and his dad asks him to cut the grass.
Dad: “Hi Blake. Did school go ok today?”
Blake: “Oh, hey dad…I had that algebra test…I think I did ok.”
Dad: “Good. Hey, since it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, I’d like you to go out and mow the yard.”
Here’s one way this scene could play out, without the wise appeal.
Blake: (irritated): “Mow the yard? I don’t want to. Not now.”
Dad: (feeling like he needs to get intense): “Son, I said please mow the yard now.”
Blake: (Blake stomps upstairs to his room and slams the door)
Dad: (Dad, yelling from the bottom of the stairs) “Blake! Come down here right now! Blake!”
On the other hand, the wise appeal gives Blake the tools to express his feelings in a respectful way. And, it gives dad an alternative to losing his temper.
Let’s look at what would happen if Blake used the “wise appeal” after his dad asked him to mow the yard.
Blake: “Dad, I understand you want me to cut the grass. But I’ve had a tough day at school and I’m really tired. Could I rest and do it, say, in two hours…by 5:30?”
Dad: “Sure son. You get some rest and I’ll see you later.”
See the difference? Of course, if Blake hasn’t mowed the yard in two hours then he loses the privilege of even using the “wise appeal” until he’s shown responsibility again. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this technique in the comments section below.