Feel like you are target practice for your teen’s insults?

Teen: “Do we have to stop at Aunt Carol’s on the way home? My friends are waiting for me.”

Parent: “It will just take a moment. She loves seeing you and it will save me a trip.”

Teen: “Whatever but she is your sister not mine. I am not getting out of the car.”

Ouch! When you’ve just been the target of a zinger from your child, it can sting. These may be the hardest, but most important times to take a breath, smile and resist the urge to launch a zinger back. Listen to your teen’s thoughts and feelings to help shape your changing relationship with him or her. Think about what may be the underlying message your child is trying to tell you but can’t say. (“I’m tired…I’m embarrassed…I’d rather be with my friends right now…”) Responding in a caring way back to your child opens the lines of communication.

Be an eParent®! Text your child a message to share your appreciation for time spent together. Leave your child a voice mail saying you understand that she gets tired and frustrated and let her know you are on her side and ready to listen when she is ready to talk.

Teens are in the process of developing an identity that is different from yours. Pushing against parental opinions and values is part of how teens form their own opinions, thoughts and values. Unfortunately, during this time teens can also be insensitive to parents. Listen carefully for your teen’s thoughts and feelings and help your teen understand the impact of his actions and words on others by asking, “How does that make you feel?” or “How do you think others feel when this happens?” Sarcasm and insults are often signs of insecurity or calls for acceptance. By carefully listening to your teen without taking offense you help your teen feel understood. Annoying though it may be, sarcasm reflects their growing mental capabilities.

Read more about teen sarcasm and why to avoid using sarcasm in response.

To learn more contact UW-Extension Family Living Programs or like Family Living on Facebook.

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