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The Potato Chip Incident

Regularly teens will display an attitude of self-conceit, self-absorption, or arrogance

It’s a rare adolescent who does not struggle with attitude. Regularly teens will display an attitude of self-conceit, self-absorption, or arrogance: “I can do it myself!” “Leave me alone!” “What do you know anyway?”

Sometimes a child’s self-oriented actions are ridiculous. I was in the kitchen one morning, helping one of our girls finish making her lunch. A teenage mutiny erupted because we had no potato chips.

I told her I was sorry that we were out and suggested some other options, to no avail. She whined, “There’s nothing in this house to eat. Nothing for my lunch!”

In fact, there was enough food in the house to feed a platoon of Marines. I tried to point this out. “We’ve got yogurt, fruit…” But we didn’t have the one thing she wanted.

She got so bent out of shape over the potato chips deficit that I had to warn her, “You need to gain control of your attitude; this isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll have potato chips for tomorrow, but not today.”

Our daughter’s hysteria escalated even more. “You’ll need to come to school and take me out and buy my lunch!” she said.

I tried to help her gain perspective and relax, but she refused to listen. She was so out of bounds that, to sting her selfishness, I grounded her from the phone for a week. Her disrespect and demanding attitude were inappropriate.

The punishment cooled her whining but did not completely extinguish it. Finally, I said, “You know, honey, I am going to go buy potato chips, but you’re not going to take any in your lunch for a week, because you were so demanding.”

Our daughter frowned and finally quieted down. What a way to begin a day!

This is the kind of petty and selfish attitude you will sometimes encounter and need to correct. Rewarding such behavior is out of the question. Resist the temptation to give in to some irrational demand just to calm the waters and ease a migraine headache. Take the aspirin. Don’t capitulate!


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