Teaching Children How to Appeal to Authority

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I know you don’t ever have problems with this in your home {wink}, but we’ve really struggled with talking back.  Well, namely my oldest son {7.5 years old}.  The kind of talking back I’m specifically talking about is when I say things like, “It’s time to do your schoolwork,” or, “I need you to empty the dishwasher.”  My instructions were met with “I don’t want to,” or that whiny, “Why?”- you know the one. The “why” with 5 syllables. Yeah.  That one.

The Seed of Self

Now, I understand that my kids are not robots.  They have a free will and choose to obey or disobey me.  I also understand that they have feelings. They can have bad moods or even bad days {like me}.  They also have opinions {and lots of them}. They are their own persons.  God designed them this way.  But I wanted a way to help him learn that while it’s okay to have choices, feelings, and opinions, there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle these.

For a few weeks I let this behavior persist, until God opened my eyes.  This was not a phase and it was not going anywhere fast.  After spending some time in prayer over this matter, God helped me to clearly see that by allowing my son to answer back in a disrespectful way, I was watering the seed of self in his heart.  I was encouraging him {in a subtle way} to be disobedient and disrespectful.  I was not managing the blessing of motherhood His way. Ultimately, I was sinning.  Ouch.

Teaching Children How to Appeal to Authority

Teaching Kids How to Make an Appeal

He reminded me of a parenting principle that’s been around for years–making an appeal to authority.  If you’re not familiar with this approach, the conversation would sound something like this:

Me: It’s time to do your schoolwork.

Son: Okay, mom.  Would it be okay if I finish what I’m doing first?

I sat down with my son and modeled this approach, explaining how this would sound and look.  {This conversation happened at a calm time; not at the time of disobedience.}  We practiced a few times with different scenarios. I also explained that even if he used a respectful appeal, I still had the right as mommy to say, “No.”

We’ve been using this method for about two months now.  By no means is this thing a well-oiled machine.  He messes up and so do I.  But by teaching my son the strategy of making a respectful appeal to adults, I feel confident that I am watering seeds of humility, selflessness, and respectfulness; all things God honors.

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