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Your Sassy Child: How Parents Overcome Sarcasm

By Jean Tracy, MSS

A sarcastic child can test your parenting skills. When your feelings are trampled on by her cruel words, it's hard to feel like a loving parent.

After all, from the time your daughter was born, she stole your heart. You've held her and loved her and always did your best for her. But now she's talking like she hates you. What should you do?

Love her but in a strong new way. As her guide, look at the bigger picture. If she keeps sassing you and getting away with it, she'll treat you like her doormat. She'll be the boss. And when she really needs your help, she won't confide in you


Furthermore, she'll develop a sarcastic habit that puts off close friendships. No one likes getting pierced by the arrows of sarcasm.

When you look at the bigger picture, it's easier to see that taking action can be an act of love.

Taking Action Means, ‘Stopping the Sassy Behavior!'

What are some sarcastic expressions and behaviors that need to end? Here are 7 verbal put-downs and 5 behaviors:

7 Common Sarcastic Things Kids Say

1. “Duh!”
2. “Do it yourself.”
3. “Oh, sure.”
4. “Give me a break.”
5. “Whatever”
6. “Get a life.”
7. “Thanks a lot!”

Of course, there are many other mouthy put-downs. But notice that several of the ones mentioned have a “You're stupid!” attitude underlying them. You don't deserve this.

5 Examples of Kid's Rude Behavior

Rolling eyes
Folded arms
Arched eyebrows

Have you experienced any of these surly words or actions from your child? If so, how can you love her but in a strong new way? Let's find out.

Reacting to Rude Behaviors

Don't return the sarcasm by saying, “I see you're rolling your eyeballs again. Did you ever find a brain back there?” Sarcastic replies invite volleys of mean-spirited sass. You want to cut it off not rev it up.

Make your goal to model serious respectful behavior when reacting to your child's obnoxious retorts. Make sure you feel and look in control of yourself even if you need to let time pass before you respond.

Acting Respectful

1. Calm your feelings and relax your body. If you're upset take a ‘time out' and breathe deeply 10 times or until you feel in control of your emotions.
2. Look serious. Use the mirror and practice the face you want your child to see. A serious face is neither kind nor angry.
3. Use a firm civil tone. Practice the tone of voice you feel is both serious and respectful. You'll know it when you hear it.
4. Speak with few words. Kids don't listen to lectures. Say what you mean and mean what you say, no more and no less.
5. Think before you speak. Don't attack your child's sense of self. Focus on the insulting behavior instead. Tell what you don't like about it and what you want instead.

9 examples follow. After reading them, think about what your child says and consider how you will respond with love but in a strong new way.

9 Ways to Use Constructive Feedback – Be Direct Not Clever

Instead of saying, “Take your foot out of your mouth. I can't hear what you're saying,” be direct, not clever. Say what you really want her to know and do:

1. “That was rude. Say it with respect.”
2. “Rolling your eyes is offensive. Look at me and say it nicely.”
3. “Your words and tone hurt your sister's feelings. Before dinner apologize to her in a kind voice.”
4. “This is not a TV sitcom. Sarcasm doesn't belong in our family, so stop it now.”
5. “That was sassy. You can either restate your comment respectfully right now or go to your room until you do.”
6. I'm offended by your put-down and smirk. Tell me how can you act better?”
7. “What you just said upset me. Please say it in a nicer way.”
8. “Arching your eyebrows and grumbling is not going to get you what you want. Show me how you can act better.
9. “I'm unhappy that you snickered and ran outside to play when I asked you to clean the bathroom. Please clean it now.”

By not accepting sass you are giving her love but in a strong new way. Why is it love? Because you are saving her from:

Feeling guilty for disrespecting you
Creating a gulf between the two of you
Acting too superior to ask for your advice
Losing friends because of her sarcasm
Developing a sarcastic personality

Poem to Read with Your Child

Sassy Isn't Classy

A boy named Tyler Tanners
Had such sarcastic manners.
“Get a life,” he told his dad.
People thought, ‘This boy is bad.'

One by one his friends left him.
Lonely now, his life looked grim. ‘
'Dude, you're rude,' he told himself.
Then appeared a wise old elf.

Tyler Tanners felt unglued.
“I can't change from acting rude.”
“Yes you can,” replied the elf.
Then he jumped off Tyler's shelf.

“Listen to my helpful tips.
Control your thoughts. Check your lips.
Choose to speak with kinder manners,
Then you'll be liked, Tyler Tanners.”

Tyler tried the elf's advice,
Kids liked Tyler. He was nice.
No longer acting bold and brassy,
Tyler Tanners stopped being sassy.

Conclusion for Dealing with a Sassy Sarcastic Child

Love is the answer when it comes to dealing with sassy children. Not all love is warm and fuzzy. This love is strong, respectful, and firm. It stops the sarcasm because it takes a stand. It focuses on her behavior not her person and says exactly what you want your child to do.

Consider the 9 ways to handle your child's disrespect and decide what you will say the next time your child sasses you. Then read the poem, Sassy Isn't Classy, with your child. Consider having her memorize parts of it too. If you do, you'll be helping her feel secure because you're a strong loving parent. You'll be building character too.


Watch this short parenting video about sassy sarcastic behavior Sarcastic Child: 10 Positive Parenting Tips and share the poem at the end with your child.

Pick up Character Building: Cartoon Guide to Good Manners with Family Discussions and enjoy the discussions as your children give their best advice to the bad-mannered cartoon characters. Use this fun method to teach good manners.

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