When I asked my husband how he thought of the idea to introduce “appealing” to our kids, he just shrugged and said, “I don’t know. I’m probably a genius.” Classic Patrick sarcasm. 

What I didn’t tell him is that years earlier, the first day I heard him explaining the concept of “appealing” to our kids, he did in fact seem like sexy-parent-genius.

As a mom of three and hight task-oriented, I rarely look up from scurrying around to create and implement core shifts in the way our family functions. But thankfully Patrick does. And getting our kids to trade in whining for appealing was a huge win for us as parents and worth every second of training. 

Here’s how it works: It’s classic negotiation— you both have to give a little.

As a parent going into an appealing moment, you have to know two things: 1) You have to know when your kids are about to whine, and 2) You have to know what and how much you’re willing to give on what you want. 

Training sounds like this:

Parent: In 5 minutes, it’s time to play outside instead of watch the TV.

Kids: UGH! …We got home late and didn’t watch very long…or I’m too hot to play outside… or I didn’t get to watch what I wanted yet. (All spoken in the most shrill tiny voices you’ve ever heard.)

P: Would you like to appeal instead of whine?

K: Can we have have one more show?

P: How about 10 more minutes instead of 5?

It took us a few months of training for them to chose to appeal on their own, and there are always relapses. (Oh, the relapses!) So, no…life ain’t perfect over here. But, the appeal has been an incredible tool for our tool belt.

One reason I like “the appeal” is that it teaches our kids to ask for what they want. (That’s something @Motherlift teaches our mommas too. So why not start them early?) By allowing them to appeal, you’re essentially saying, “You matter in this family. You can take up space. I’m not out to get you when I ask you to turn off the TV.” As a mom, I want them to know that my posture towards them is one of generosity, and partnership. We are raising future adults after-all.  

“The appeal” also gives my kids a quick confidence boost when they want validation and to be heard.

We hope our kids grow up and look for the same quality in their partners. It’s understandable that you want to watch more TV. TV is awesome and addictive. I hear you, kids.

Introducing “the appeal” has given this more temperamental momma a level-headed way to deal with conflict. When I’m doing it right, it removes the tension in what could become a more explosive moment. It makes things matter-of-fact and gives me a script when I could feel defensive or overly emotional.

Now, I hope you don’t hear this next part the wrong way because Motherlift believes firmly in holding onto our values and asking for what we need. But something else I love about this process of appealing is that it ultimately leads to compromise. Life isn’t perfect and we don’t always get what we want, when we want it. That’s the reality of adulthood. Living in a family teaches us to be sacrificial when we wouldn’t normally chose to be. I like that my kids are learning that lesson. And if we first communicate what we need, holding tightly to what we value, then compromising with the little stuff that makes others happy can become a joy.   

Write down 5 things that your kids normally whine about and practice teaching “the appeal” this week!

Meg, The Eldest Sister