Kids These Days!

“They don’t know how good they’ve got it!”  When I hear this from an adult, it always makes me snort.  Of course today’s kids don’t know how good they’ve got it – WE didn’t know how good we had it, compared to our parents!

My mom grew up during the Depression, so she told stories of putting cardboard in her shoes and not getting enough to eat.  That didn’t stop me from begging for another pair of shoes or for a certain kind of cereal.

The reality is that we can’t use others’ tough times to make us appreciate our own luxuries.  This is even more true for teens who live in the center of their own worlds.  Can you really imagine a 15-year-old saying, “Wow, you’re right.  I shouldn’t complain about slow internet when my parents didn’t even have computers at my age!”?

I’ve just returned from my annual mission trip to Northern BC, which I spent with dozens of high school and college students.  When they saw the living conditions of some of the people we met, THEN they had a new appreciation for what they had back at home, both material and non (like parents who get inolved, or easy access to the mall).  Even our living conditions on the trip – camping in tents and sharing small bathroom facilities – made them appreciate the comforts of home.

Want teens to appreciate what they have?  Take them where other people don’t have as much.  Or better yet, put them in a situation where THEY don’t have as much.

But don’t expect them to learn anything from your stories of what you – or anyone else – may have experienced.

Whining Allowed. . .






. . .but only on Whinesday in my classroom.  If they whine on Tuesday, I’ll respond with, “It’s not Whinesday!”  If they whine on Wednesday I’ll say, “It’s not – oh, rats.  It is Whinesday, isn’t it?”  I’ll sigh heavily, say, ” Whine away,” and listen to a chorus of ‘Mrs. Acuuuuuuunnaaaaaa!  Do we haaaaaaaave to do this homework?  It’s soooooooo haaaaaaaard!'”

Whining is annoying, whether it comes from a toddler, a teen, or an adult.  Humor is a helpful tool when you’re faced with whining, as my friend discovered when dealing with her daughters.

When they were out for a walk and her youngest kept asking, “How much loooooongerrrr?” and complaining of tired feet, Mom made a deal with her.  She said she was free to whine whenever they crossed a street, but not anywhere else.  Every time they stepped into a crosswalk, this clever mom would say, “Here’s your chance – better get started before it’s too late!”  Her daughter tried to whine, but she kept interrupting herself with laughter.

On another occasion, this same mom gave her daughter permission to whine for three whole minutes.  As you might guess, she  found it difficult to keep it up for that long.

Of course, there’s always the direct method:  “I’m sorry, but I can’t respond to that tone of voice.  Would you care to repeat yourself in a calmer tone?”  That approach usually works for me.

Unless, of course, it’s Whinesday.