We all know teens can be the worst when it comes to laziness and rude behavior, but that doesn’t mean we have to cater to their every whim or sink down to their level either.
I’ve always used sarcasm with a side of humor to get my point across to my two teens. I find it works well and it’s always fun to meet them at their game. Because sometimes with teenagers, the best defense is a good offense.
Here are eight witty ways to disengage some of those annoying teenage behaviors that can push our buttons as parents.
When your teen does a half A$! job on a chore
Say, “Oh honey, it looks like you need a lot more practice at doing chores. Here’s a few more to help you really work on those skills. It takes hard work and dedication to get really good at something and I believe in you!” I literally just did this last night with one of my teens who missed quite a few spots dusting the first floor.
Silly kid missed the obvious spots I noticed immediately. I mean, if you’re going to slack off on something, at least have half a mind to try to hide your lack of effort. I gave my teen the added chore of dusting the upstairs too, just so they could “practice” more. My kids have experienced this response from me more times than they can count. Do the job poorly, then expect additional work for a consequence. That’s how I see it. Sometimes, it can actually result in a very clean house on a particularly lazy day. I love that.
When your teen asks you for food while lying on the couch watching TV
This one really gets me. Do your kids do this? Who am I, some kind of servant?
“Mom, can you heat up that leftover mac n cheese for me please?”
Or my all-time favorite: “Mom, I’m hungry. Can you make me something to eat?”
Here’s the thing. Dinner was already served. Get your additional food yourself is all I’m saying. I will not cater to my teens. Nope. Nada. No way.
So, I’ll often just bring my kid an empty plate while doing a curtsey like a servant and say “I’m so sorry to report that the help isn’t available at this time.” Or I’ll yell it while I’m busy working or doing dishes or folding their laundry.
When your teen is not responding to your questions
I’ve done a few different fun things in response to this one. Because this classic teen behavior happens All. The. Time.
I will write them big lettered notes on a sheet of copy paper from my printer. Then I will go tape it to wherever they are located to interfere with what they are doing. For example, watching TV? The note goes on the front of it. Looking at your computer? Tack that note right on the screen. On the phone with headphones in? I’ll simply lay it on their phone. It gets the point across.
I’ll also simply go over to them and use pretend sign language while saying very loudly and slowly, and of course with dramatic presentation, “I… WAS… TALKING… TO… YOU. CAN… YOU…PLEASE… ANSWER…MY…QUESTION?”
If it’s their phone that is the distraction, you can also text them with a warning that they have three seconds to respond to you before wifi gets shut down for the rest of the day. Don’t forget the smiley face emoji.
When your teen is rude to their sibling
This one happens pretty much daily, and it is enough to make me lose my mind. Why can’t they just get along?
What most infuriates me is when my older teen treats my younger teen unfairly or simply disrespects the poor innocent younger one with elaborate sighs or the all-too-common explosive, “Leave me alone!!” It pretty much breaks my heart in two.
This is when a little good old reverse psychology can do wonders. I’ll walk up quietly to my oldest, take her hands in mine and stare into her sullen eyes. Then I gently whisper, “Thank you for being such a good big sister. It warms my heart when you are so kind and caring and patient. What a role you play in your brother’s life. Thank you for being so mature and respectful in how you communicate with him. I’m so glad to see you honor one of the most important relationships in your life. Well done, you!”
I’ll give her a warm smile, nod with assurance while patting her on the back and then simply walk away. Works like a charm every single time.
When your teen leaves a mess behind and goes to bed
I think 90% of parenting tweens or teens is literally picking up after them. Does it ever stop? When will they finally learn to put their plates away, their clothes away, their shoes away, their EVERYTHING away? I get so tired of reminding them that I try to force myself to stop with all the reminders and let their sloppy ways spill out and leave a trail behind them.
Instead, when the day is done and the mess is there, I tiptoe into their room and gently jostle them awake. Once they are looking straight at me with utter confusion and surprise, I calmly whisper, “I’m so sorry to wake you, but you still have some things to do downstairs.”
They’ll drag their tired bodies out of bed and shuffle slowly downstairs to pick up their stuff and I’ll simply follow behind them saying, “Oh, you missed this plate over here.” “Don’t forget your gym shoes over here.” “There’s a cup in the other room that has your name on it.”
They moan and groan and sigh and when they’re done and make their way back to bed, I smile and say, “Maybe tomorrow you’ll remember.” And I promise you, they usually do.
When your teen tells you they are not in the mood for your antics
(ie: singing voice, jokes, conversation, looking at them, breathing)
This happens often to me. Apparently, they don’t like my goofy ways, especially when they are in a funk. But I have a right to sing my favorite song in the car when their friends aren’t present or to actually be in a good mood even if they aren’t.
So, I’ll come back with dramatic effect and say, “I’m so incredibly sorry I’m alive. How dare I even breathe right now! I have dreadfully let you down. Please forgive me for living in this world with you. I promise to not breathe, not speak, not even look at you again.”
Then, next time, when they want something from me or ask me a question or need me to do something, I remind them of my promise.
When your teen bosses another sibling around
When you have an older sibling who, shall we say, likes to parent the younger sibling/s, it can get downright infuriating. Maybe they mean well, but often they just like to tell them what to do.
So, when this happens under my watch, I jump up with an excited, “Oh thank goodness I have a replacement! I’ve been so exhausted with all this parenting and I appreciate you taking on my role! Now, here’s what I need you to do.” And then get busy writing a “to do list” for them while I’m telling them all the responsibilities for the rest of the day as the new practicing parent.
At some point, they either gasp with “No way mom! I’m not doing all that.” Or “Whatever, mom.” And then I let them know that I actually got this. It’s not their job to be the parent but if I need their help, I’ll be sure reach out.
When your teen is barking orders at you to hurry up because they are going to be late
This type of entitled and expectant behavior really does me in. Especially considering more times than not, they are the ones keeping me waiting. My general response now is to purposefully grab my coffee, settle into my favorite comfy chair and open a good book.
But one of my finest parenting moments happened years ago when my teen daughter really pushed me to the limit. In response to her rushing me, I dropped everything and flew past her with my coat dangling off my arm. I opened the door with a flurry of speed, ran to the car and sped out of the garage and down the street without her. I drove around the block and parked my car for a good five minutes.
When I arrived back home, she was waiting outside, pacing the driveway and kicking the rocks around anxiously. I rolled down the window and said, “Why weren’t you ready to go? Now we’re late!” She was, in fact, late and let’s just say she learned a valuable lesson about rushing her mom that day.