Sarcastic 12 year old

Hello, I am a new member. I have a son who is 12 and in 7th grade. My son is very sarcastic with me 90% of the time. I am constantly telling him to turn it off, to be serious and sincere sometimes. But he continues! What can I do? I admit to being sarcastic myself and joke with him alot. However he knows when I am being sincere and talking to him normally. Is it my fault, what can I do? I have many issues with his attitude, school performance as well. Any thoughts, advice, support is appreciated. Thank you!

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Thank you for your question. Before you assign blame to yourself, while your son’s sarcasm may come from watching you, this is not necessarily a bad thing. He is modeling your behavior and learning a fun personality trait. He now needs to learn when it’s appropriate. For example, some people, especially in his age group may misunderstand him if he takes a sarcastic tone. You mention that he knows when you’re being sincere – he may not be picking up on the nuance of when and how you change your tone. You may want to limit your own sarcasm for the moment, and point out when you’re making that choice and why to help him read social situations – it’s worth taking a moment to do this in real time if possible. The issue you present is not uncommon. The tween years are fun and challenging, and you will see your child constantly battling between young child and adolescent – finding his way toward the next phase and it’s our job as parents to lead them by helping them understand what is and is not appropriate. With the sarcasm, it’s important to be very clear when it’s ok and when it’s not. Don’t be afraid to draw the line and be sure to be consistent with your reaction. You can simply point it out. If it feels awkward to do in the moment, be sure to come back to the conversation when you have time to talk about it. You don’t have to make a huge deal about it, but be clear and firm. If it persists, think of a natural consequence (with your son’s input ideally) for when he is mis-reading cues. Some natural consequences might include 1. an apology (after the fact and thought through) to the person he was inappropriate with, 1. you making a decision for him if one was needed in a sarcastic moment, or 3. loss of a privilege related to the lack of an appropriate tone. The best thing would be for you to come up with the consequence together and to make it meaningful, but you can use the above as ideas to kick off the conversation. Find moments where his sarcasm is appropriate, and point it out (after laughing on cue of course).

As far as your concerns with his attitude and performance at school, we will need specific information to help you there.

Good luck and please keep in touch to let us know how it’s going. We’d be happy to continue this conversation to add any additional support you may need.  We can always set up a virtual one-on-one if it would help to talk through your questions and concerns. If that’s the case, just email us back  at

Take Good Care,
Amy Alamar, Expert
Amy Alamar, EdD, has worked in the field of education as a teacher, teacher educator, researcher, parent educator, and education reformer for over fifteen years. In late 2014, Amy published her first book entitled: Parenting for the Genius:  Developing Confidence in Your Parenting through Reflective Practice (For the Genius Press, 2014). The book is a comprehensive guide to becoming the most thoughtful and confident parent possible, with anecdotes and details relating to the guidance and support of children in specific age ranges throughout their formative years. In 2016, Amy was an invited guest of Michelle Obama at the White House for a conversation about kids’ health. Amy is also a contributing author to the Disney parenting website, and an expert on Amy is married and the mother of three children whom she learns from and enjoys each and every day. She is a resident of Avon, CT, where she serves on the board of the Avon Education Foundation, dedicated to promoting and enhancing excellence in education. You can learn more about her

amyalamar Yellowbrick Expert Commented on November 16, 2016.
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I am not an expert, but i wonder if curbing your own sarcasm would be helpful as children often role model the adults around them.

I also am curious if there are consequences to theor sarcasm; either from you or your childs peers?

dadlife Parent Contributor Commented on November 16, 2016.
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