Today, it seems that more and more we see children who display lots of drama.
Today, it seems that more and more we see children who display lots of drama. I like to define drama as “BIG” emotion over “little” stuff. In essence, the emotion is disproportionate to the disappointment or frustration, and we all tend to get annoyed by it.
Let’s examine why this drama has such a long-term negative consequence on our kids.
1. Big drama multiplies pain.
With drama, children experience small issues as if they are major problems. Minor upsets become major events. The amount of anguish and emotion is exaggerated, and life is lived with a distorted sense of exaggerated pain and unhappiness.
2. Big drama promotes a sad and negative orientation toward life.
Because drama tends to magnify small upsets into major moments, life appears more pessimistic and negative than necessary. It’s as if children are looking out through a selective filter that constantly finds reason to seek what’s wrong with the world, and often ignores what is right with the world.
As time goes on, such drama is more and more attractive to well-adjusted and healthy kids. Therefore…
3. Drama kings and queens often (not always) attract other kids with drama.
Children prone to drama end up making friends with other kids prone to drama. They share their drama with each other, and life is further filled with emotionality and upset. There is little room for noticing and appreciating positive and healthy aspects of life. The drama feeds on itself, particularly as children move into pre-adolescence and adolescence.
4. Big drama destroys self-esteem.
In part, self-esteem evolves from a sense of personal mastery and competence and the self-knowledge that “I can handle life.” As children grow older, they gain awareness of their own coping capacities. When life is filled with drama, self-esteem often suffers because of the emotional roller-coaster ride.
5. Big drama hampers their chance for life success.
In order to succeed in various arenas in life, challenges need to be embraced, frustrations mastered and you need the ability to persist in the face of obstacles.
When big drama shows up in the face of challenge or frustration, children are choosing drama over persistence. Rather than turning toward the source of frustration, and pursuing a path through the difficult obstacles, they tend to get lost in the drama and disengage from the task at hand. The drama becomes the center of attention, when efforts at persistence and problem solving are needed.
What you can do to help your child ‘drop the drama?’
Here are a few simple suggestions:
First, big drama is like an addiction so make sure you don’t feed it. Even though it doesn’t make sense, kids can become addicted to drama. During their early years, this drama often pulls parents to intervene, to console, to help their kids through these difficult moments. Recognize the drama as an addiction and stop feeding it with your attention.
Secondly, kids need to get through their drama on their own. They learn from this. In fact, they learn from you being able to allow them to get through it. This is a critical point. In reality, we all ultimately need to get through our emotions on our own. You’ll find that when your kids are allowed to have a moment of drama, they’ll get through it. If fact, they’ll get through it more quickly each time when you don’t try to fix their upset.
Finally, above all, don’t reward the drama by giving in to demands. As children get older, the drama emerges when they are not getting what they want. If you allow yourself to reward the drama in order to make it go away, you’re setting yourself up for misery during those adolescent years.
When the drama emerges, give it nothing – no energy and no attention!
If you follow those steps, then you will find yourself empowered to help your child develop more emotional stability.
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.