Your teen might think she is being funny, but others won't always view sarcasm the same way.

Sarcasm in Teens

by Leah Campbell

It might happen overnight. One day your little girl is sweet and affectionate, the next -- she transforms into a surely and sarcastic teenager. Every other word is accompanied by an eye-roll and exaggerated sigh, leaving you to wonder what happened to your adorable daughter. Sarcasm is a typical phase that teenagers experience, but that doesn’t make getting through it any easier.

Part of Growing Up

Young teens are embarking on a more sophisticated level of thinking, according to Maureen O’Brien, parenting expert and founder of This means that irony and wordplay will now become a part of her dialect, and using them in regular speech will in part help her feel more like a grown-up. This phenomenon has become even more pervasive with younger generations who are exposed to sarcasm daily through their favorite television shows and movies, according to Kathryn Montgomery, professor of public communication at American University and author of “Generation Digital: Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet.”

Problems with Sarcasm

When confronted by sarcasm, people can often feel belittled and cut down, according to psychologist Clifford N. Lazarus, author of “Don’t Believe It For A Minute: Forty Toxic Ideas That are Driving You Crazy.” While your teenager might think she is being funny, recipients of her sarcasm won’t always see it the same way. Sincerity disappears when sarcasm is used, and aggression may be interpreted instead. Lazarus also points out that an enduring sarcastic attitude can contribute to a more negative outlook all around.

Where to Draw the Line

Vicki Panaccione, child psychologist and author of “What Kids Would Tell You … If Only You’d Ask!” explains that all parents need to determine their own comfort level with sarcasm and draw the line from there. In some homes, comical banter might be typical and not seen as unnerving. In others, it might be viewed as a sign of disrespect. Evaluate your own boundaries before determining where to draw the line in your home. Michele Borba, child and parenting expert and author of “Don’t Give Me That Attitude!” explains that while sarcasm is a normal part of development, it is still a parent’s job to help teenagers understand how inappropriate it can be in certain contexts.

Ignore It

Choosing your battles and occasionally ignoring sarcasm altogether might be the best method for fighting it, according to Panaccione. Instead of allowing a sarcastic remark to turn into a fight, try responding to your teen with a bit of wit yourself. Or simply request she try again in a kinder tone. If all else fails and she truly crosses a line, call her on it. Otherwise, look at this stage as just part of raising a teenager, and be thankful if sarcasm is as bad as it gets.

About the Author

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.

Photo Credits

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