Dealing with a Drama Queen
Whether your daughter is four or fourteen, odds are you’ve witnessed the drama queen reigning from her throne at one time or another.
The drama might be anything from bickering with a best/ex/best-again friend, to complaining about a teacher or other authority figure, to lamenting about arguments with an on-again, off-again boyfriend, to screaming at her little brother for looking at her.
It can be difficult to maneuver the girl drama. Do you tell your daughter to just “get over it?” Do you call up the friend’s mother and try to work things out between grown-ups? Do you get the detested teacher on the phone and demand an explanation for the poor grade?
What’s a mama to do with all this drama?
Keep these things in mind when dealing with a drama queen:
- You were once a drama queen, too. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember the traumatic years of your girlhood…or even the traumatic years of your thirties! If you’re a female, you have the propensity to be a drama queen (especially at certain times of the month!) But by relating to your daughter in her current state of crisis, you’ll be more likely to show her grace and she’ll be more likely to listen to your words of wisdom.
- Kick her off the throne. Just because she’s being dramatic doesn’t mean the rest of the house needs to succumb to her evil reign. Expressive children have the tendency to draw everyone else into their world, and they have great power to alter the emotional climate of a house. In no time, they can have the whole family stressed out and screaming at each other. But when you keep your cool, use a calm voice and refuse to let her escalate the situation, you’re showing her that even though she’s having trouble, Mom is still in control — and home is still a safe place.
- Put the queen to bed. My mom always used to say, “Everything will look better in the morning.” I now offer this advice to girls of all ages. Mornings bring new opportunities and new outlooks. If your drama queen is all worked up, make sure she gets a good night’s sleep.
- Leave the queen be. There are times when kids get so zealous about “being right” that they simply cannot see another point of view. If this is the case for your drama queen, it will probably bode better for you to respond gently and empathetically (“This must be so hard for you, honey”) and wait until a later time (the morning?) to talk reasonably about the situation and/or offer advice.
- When questioning the queen… If she’s having difficulty expressing herself, which can sometimes be the case especially with younger children, stick to simple “yes or no” questions. For example, instead of asking her, “What do you need from me?”, ask “Do you need some time alone with me?”
- Even queens should be kind. Encourage self-control despite tumultuous feelings — kindness rather than retaliation and courtesy rather than revenge. Remember that drama can be used for teachable moments. You are showing her how to deal with difficult people and respond appropriately in tricky situations.
Ultimately, you have the capacity to help your daughter surrender her throne. By walking her through these difficult years with gentleness and empathy, you are building her trust in you as her ally. By teaching her to respect others and demonstrate kindness, you are teaching her character… and equipping her so that someday she will know how to dethrone her own little drama queen.
Shannon is a youth pastor's wife who has worked professionally with teen girls for over three years where dealing with drama is part of the job. In addition, she is adopting a teenage girl and currently parents her own two little drama queens. In her spare time (haha!), she writes for ATFM, works as a part-time children’s ministry director, teaches piano, and writes for her own blog (Key MOMents).