Whether your preteen simply doesn’t realize he can express his emotions in a more positive manner or he’s simply more influenced by his peers than ever before, his sassy behavior is unwarranted. During his preteen years, you might be faced with the challenge of an unusually sassy child, so it now becomes an important goal to teach him to behave respectfully. Making over his behavior will require firm expectations and consistency on your part.
Tell your child what you will do when you catch him acting up. For example, if you notice that your preteen rolls his eyes when you talk to him and he has a new habit of responding to you with a great deal of sarcasm and disrespect, tell him that each behavior is unacceptable. Follow that up by telling him that any time you catch him doing either, you will discipline him.
Ignore small behaviors, such as exaggerated sighs and muttering under his breath, advises Family Education, part of Pearson Education, Inc. When your preteen chooses to speak to you with an attitude, ignore his tone and simply do not engage him. Kids this age don’t like to be ignored. He wants to get a reaction out of you and when you refuse to give him the reaction he wants, it teaches him that his sassy attitude is ineffective and he’s more likely to stop using that tone of voice.
Take away privileges from your preteen, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, if he continues to roll his eyes at you after you made your expectations clear, tell him he cannot use the computer for the rest of the evening. You can take away privileges such as watching television, hanging out with his friends or even participating in school activities. Just make sure that any privilege you take away from your preteen is something he really enjoys or it won’t affect his behavior.
Keep punishments short, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommended time frame is several hours to a day for minor behavioral problems and a few days to a week for major behavioral problems. Any longer and your preteen might start to think that he has nothing left to lose by being disrespectful and sassy, and you might find he becomes even more difficult to deal with.