Sarcasm doesn’t work, especially on kids

My wife uses sarcasm far more often than I’d like to admit.  With my job, I try to keep sarcasm out of anything where I’m trying to get anything done largely because it confuses the message.  The words often conflict with the desired action, and as a result, some people just don’t get it.  Now taking that reasoning to parenting, as a child, you’re trying to develop an understanding of how the world works.  The introduction of sarcasm at a young age delays and confuses this process.  It also builds tension in the kids, and burns out the parents.  While it takes some self control, be as literal as possible with children, with clear expectations and consequences.  The last part is to ensure that you have realistic consequences that you are willing to follow through with.  Large threats that you’ll never possibly enact are less effective than small and moderate consequences that you are willing to consistently follow through with.  The large threats only induce fear and undermine the parent’s long term credibility.  Once you establish credibility, you have more leverage to set consequences for bad behavior, and the children will be more compliant.

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