How to Tackle Your Teen’s Sarcastic Behaviour


Most parents notice the return of the ‘terrible twos’ phase when their kids enter their pre-teens. The tremendous growth spurts, tantrums, and rebellious attitude can leave one drained.

In fact, communication becomes one of the biggest challenges. Back talking, comments laced with sarcasm, sneering, and muttering under the breath are some of the ways teens express their thoughts and feelings.  Sarcasm could stem from feelings of hurt or anger, or from a past event. This use of sarcasm for humour and attention can often be hurtful than amusing. Read the following on how to tackle your teen’s sarcastic behaviour.

Understand The Reason

As older children with better comprehension, pre-teens enjoy the freedom of expression and manipulate language in a sarcastic manner. It’s part of the growing up phase, and results from the lack of an in-depth understanding of the whole situation or from passive aggression. Peers and parents who use sarcasm a lot at school or at home often have an influence too.

Don’t Ignore It

An enduring sarcastic attitude spreads negativity around and can leave people feeling belittled. If parents ignore this kind of behaviour, the child develops a sharp sense of humour that tends to put others down. One may let a child get away with some cheekiness at home or at school, but it’s not a good strategy because he will only earn a negative reputation and may face isolation.

Draw The Line

Set boundaries and know that you must draw the line when your tween is crude and offensive but finds it hilarious. While sarcastic remarks are typical of certain homes, some parents consider it as disrespect. Teach your kids the appropriate way to express anger. Sometimes parents aren’t assertive enough in addressing issues. Explain how disrespect and a vile attitude hurts you and clarify that you won’t accept sarcastic words in the house.

Maintain Your Cool

Don’t lose your cool when you confront your child. A frustrated child wants a reaction from his parents or whoever he’s distressed with. Understand that you’re being provoked. Empathize with your child and tell him that you would deal with the issue after the both of you have calmed down. If the situation seems to quite bad, walk out of it rather than saying something spiteful, which your child may keep in mind even later.

Recognize Good Behaviour as Well

Remember to not focus only on the inappropriate behaviour. A reward system for good behaviour works a lot better as mere punishments will not make the child value anything. If you observe that your child is working on something positive, reward that behaviour (maybe a few more minutes of TV). On the other hand, if you punish the child, he may not understand what was wrong. Be absolutely clear on why you want him to behave in a certain manner and cognizance around that becomes necessary for any long-term change.

Empathize, Talk, And Offer Alternatives

When a child is sarcastic, there is often some distress involved. Identify the distress and empathize with them. The conversation should be non-accusatory, where you acknowledge the distress and give him appropriate alternatives to being sarcastic. Tweens tend to react to things personally rather than objectively. If they find it difficult to share their feelings, it remains in their subconscious mind, and eventually takes the form of sarcasm. Teach them the appropriate way to express anger. Discuss how sarcasm is an ineffective way to communicate and how hurtful it can get.

Develop a system where you encourage your child to share her feelings and thoughts. Adopt direct communicative strategies like, ‘Whatever you said hurt my feelings, and I don’t like it. How would you feel if your friend talks to you like this?’ Empathy building encourages the child to put himself in the other person’s shoes,”. Ask questions that open up discussions, like, ‘It’s alright to be angry, but would you like to share it with me?’ Simple conversations like these will help you both bond better.

Dealing With Teen Indiscipline

  • Give your child respect and space when they really need it. Don’t put down his/her opinions and ideas.
  • Using ‘you’ statements are baits for arguments. Instead, use ‘I’ statements to express your feelings and thoughts. Judge the behaviour and not the person.
  • Keep your conversations brief and watch the tone of your voice.
  • Show your kid that you love him and his uniqueness unconditionally.
  • You have the biggest influence on your child. So be a good role model and nurture the right behaviour in him/her.