The new phrase from the students this year is "so what should I do?" For example, a student might say "I was going to finish the work yesterday but I had to spend the weekend in the hospital visiting my brother so what should I do?" Let's assume for a second the excuse is genuine, the message comes across as hostile. It states "I intended to work, was unable to...therefore my end of the bargain is complete. As the teacher, you must now fix this." I'm quick to remind students that while I'm happy to help, it's not my problem to solve. They're welcome to quite, or thrive, but it's not my duty to pull a rabbit out of my hat. Additionally, just because they considering making an effort, or tried to try, it doesn't absolve them from continuing. There's value in failure, but only when it's ultimately failure by continued effort and ultimate success.
I think as teachers, even with the older students, we get so used to helping them solve problems that we wind up solving all of them. As a result, students never learn the value of addressing situations with possible solutions rather than excuses. If a students approaches me and says "I couldn't finish the work on time, but this is my new plan", that's all I need to hear. Collateral only works if you intend to pay back your loan.