When I poll Bais Yaakov graduates about their emotional associations with certain mitzvos, I often find that they feel very warm about the mitzvah of taking challah and very cold about the mitzvah of tzenius. Do we teach these two mitzvos differently? And if we do approach these mitzvos differently, and one approach produces long-term results that are so much better, why don’t we always use the more successful approach?
How do we teach kids to take challah? We make a party, with music playing, and bake delicious bread while laughing and having fun. How do we teach tzenius? We clobber our students. We are harsh. We single students out and embarrass them in public. We toss kids out of school for violating a chumrah. We blame communal tragedies on our children’s lack of tzenius.
Tzenius is one of the few areas where we behave at home and in the classroom as if we know nothing about chinuch. Then the kids reject tzenius, so we parents and teachers feel the need to be even harsher—it’s a nonproductive, vicious cycle.
Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen, “Why Are So Many Kids Today ‘Off the Derech’?”, Jewish Action (Summer 2013), 28.