Most parents feel offended and are at a loss as to how to deal with the teenage eye roll. Others laugh it off and say it is just a phase. Here is the ultimate guide as to what is really going on. This could help you deal with it and decide what is the best tactic to follow. Here are 10 things to bear in mind.
1. Everyone does it
This is not exclusive to teenagers, I can tell you. We all have to put up with people who have repeated over and over again some advice or complaint to us. Whether we are 8, 42 or even 55, we still get the same old advice. The only reaction is the eye roll. That is fairly innocuous as the aging parent cannot see it.
But things get really nasty when your boss starts doing it. You know the scene. The boss who uses it behind the back of someone who has disagreed or protested about something. He is trying to get you on his side by letting you see it. But when he does it in your face to send you the message that you had better shut up, you begin to wonder if he ever really grew up at all. Most of us probably do it when we are on the phone and that is pretty harmless as no one else can see it. Now you know why I am not so keen on Skype!
2. Why parents hate having to deal with teenage eye roll
Teenagers can send various signals when they want to rebel, feel frustrated or want to vent their anger. Slamming doors, sulking, and name calling, swearing and lots of other pretty disrespectful behavior is used. But the eye roll is in a class all of its own. It saves them having to say “whatever” if they are mildly fed up and it helps them control what might otherwise be a rather more violent reaction.
Parents hate it because they have come up against a roadblock on the parents and teenagers journey. It is a sign of disrespect, disobedience and may be indicative that a power struggle is looming or ongoing. It is also relatively harmless and passive which in a way is even more irritating. You feel that you should either let it go or that it is like cancer which is going to spread and get even worse.
3. What is really going on in the teen’s mind?
Parents ask themselves, is it me and where have I gone wrong? If that is the case, why are we getting such a reaction? You start to wonder if it is just all the hormones going crazy and not helping with any of the teenage challenges. Or is your teen going to grow up into a condescending, aggressive and disrespectful human being? Watch the video below just to get a better idea of how the teenage mind works.
4. Reacting can be a boomerang
Eye rolling is dismissive and it means that communication for the moment is not an option. One of the most negative reactions is for the parent to deal with the teenage eye roll and not let it go. This usually ends up with even more recriminations, door slamming and insults flying left, right, and center. I would say your chances of getting anything settled at this stage is pretty close to nil. Actually, you are reinforcing it because the teen has got a reaction which is powerful and rewarding. A more stoical reaction is probably best. Some parents broach the subject when things are more relaxed and talk about it later in a quieter moment.
5. Try to find out what is really going on
Those parents who say that they will not tolerate this behavior or that it is just a phase are really saying that they cannot be bothered to find out what is really going on in the teen’s mind. They stop thereby reacting or they don’t even react. The defiance, anger, frustration, and resentment may all be roadblocks on their way to autonomy. We need to try and find out, offer support and stop nagging. One golden rule always works. Listen and keep advice to a minimum. Repeat what they say and try to help them identify their feelings. Show them that you really have listened. It is pretty useless to say that you went through the same thing as a teen. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
“The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.” – Quentin Crisp
6. The teen is also making a choice
Ask any adolescent about how they deal with the teenage eye roll. They will tell you that it is really frustration taking over, rather than being rude, aggressive or even disrespectful. They also say that it is a relatively harmless act – nobody gets hurt. The alternative would be total rebellion and they are settling for a more passive reaction. Maybe we parents should recognize that. We should also recognize that the situation has been played out before and the teen is merely protesting at the nagging. Nagging about screen time? Who, me?? LOL!
7. You can use other tactics
I know some parents who just refuse to talk when their teen uses eye rolls. They just walk away and by removing themselves from the scene they are also deflating the teen’s reaction too. It does help to defuse the situation, they feel and it can work with some teens, I guess.
Some experts recommend you use humor to deal with the teenage eye roll. So you can ask them to do it again, but more slowly! This can also help to ease the tension and might result in a few giggles for everyone in the room. I know one parent who has said that there are so many clothes on the bedroom floor that slamming the door is not an option. An eye roll will have to do!
8. Put eye-rolling way down the list
Another useful thing to remember is that eye rolling is probably not at the top of the list of our priorities when we are concerned about getting help with teenagers’ behavior. What about aggression, hitting, cursing, name calling and other behavior which may need a lot of fixing? Eye rolling is not such a big deal when you think about all the other areas which can be really worrying.
9. Don’t let this push you away from your teen
This is the period your teen needs you most. Making a big deal of eye-rolling will push you both further apart. You are building another barrier instead of trying to build a bridge over troubled waters. Your teen may be battling against loneliness, peer pressure, academic competition, and body image. We should be trying to find out how they are doing on those fronts, rather than worrying too much about seeing the whites of their eyes!
10. Testing times
Knowing how to deal with the teenage eye roll may at times be very frustrating and very tiresome. Some parents say that they have to try to bite their lip really hard in order not to make a scene. Usually, this has the effect of keeping the situation under control. If you find that an eye roll is the standard response to everything you say, you may have to remind them not to go overboard keeping in mind some of the points we have mentioned above.
At the end of the day, there is only one way to avoid all this and that is to instill mutual respect for kids’ and parents’ opinions early on. Without that training, they will take much longer to express their frustration and anger in a more mature way.