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How to Deal With Sarcastic Teens

by Melissa King

Teenagers are at a vulnerable point in their young lives when they feel like adults and want parents to treat them as such. They cannot, unfortunately, do everything adults can do, leading to frustration and disappointment. When you give your teen a request or tell her not to do something, she might express her resentment via sarcasm. Teens say things like "Sure" or "Whatever" in a snide tone because they might be trying to assert their independence, or they're angry and may not know how to manage their feelings. If your teen talks back to you, you can help her change her behavior and teach her to speak politely to adults.

Stop using sarcasm, and ask your spouse or other adults in the home to do the same. Your teen will have trouble avoiding sarcastic language if she hears it from her parents and other adult role models.

Stay calm when your teen argues with you and uses sarcasm. Refrain from yelling, name-calling or using sarcasm yourself. Give yourself a few minutes to calm down, then respond to your teen.

Sit down with your teen and tell her that you don't approve of sarcasm and want her to stop using sarcastic language in your home. Explain to her what you consider sarcasm so she knows what's expected of her.

Create consequences to issue if your teen uses sarcasm, such as taking away her phone or car keys.

Refuse to negotiate consequences for your teen when she is sarcastic. Your teen may think she can convince you not to discipline her for her sarcasm. Do not back down. Give her the previously determined consequence despite her pleading and arguing. If you give in and take away the consequence for sarcasm, your teen will feel like she can continue to be rude with no repercussion.

Listen for your teen's sarcasm and try to find a pattern of it. Note whether she uses sarcasm when you're talking with her about homework or her friends. When you catch her being sarcastic during a discussion about school, ask her "Why are you sarcastic when I ask you about school?"

Ask your teen what she's feeling when she uses sarcasm. Encourage her to express her emotions. If your teen has trouble doing this, ask open-ended questions to get her talking. Your teen may learn to talk about her feelings instead of being sarcastic when she's angry.

Give your teen some independence and enable her to make her own choices. Teens tend to be sarcastic when they feel like an adult is stifling their independence. Let your teen choose who to date and when to do her homework. Allow her to deal with the consequences of her choices so she feels like she has some freedom.

Tip

  • Teens commonly say "You don't understand" when talking with adults. Don't tell your teen that you do understand if you really don't. Instead, tell her that she's right, but you want to understand how she's feeling. If you're arguing, ask to talk to her about her feelings later when you've both calmed down.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

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