Most of us can agree: There seems to be more drama everywhere we turn. Of course, there are exceptions! And we often see more and more ‘drama’ in our children. It’s not true of all kids, by any means.
Let’s define drama in a simple way: The demonstration of exaggerated emotion over relatively minor events. For example, small disappointments bring major tantrums. Or significant anger over small infractions in our lives. We would list more examples, but I am sure you understand the jest of this idea.
So, the question is: Is all this drama going to serve our children?
Big drama multiplies pain. When kids experience small issues as if they are major problems, minor upsets become major events. The amount of anguish and emotion is inflated, and life is filled with more pain than necessary. Thus, life is lived with a distorted sense of exaggerated pain and unhappiness.
Big drama promotes a sad and negative orientation toward life. Because drama tends to magnify small upsets into major moments, life is more pessimistic and negative than necessary. It’s as if children are looking through a selective filter that constantly finds reason to seek what’s wrong with the world, ignoring all that is right.
Kids with drama tend to attract kids with drama. Over time, the drama becomes unattractive to well-adjusted kids. Therefore, children prone to drama end up making friends with others prone to drama furthering a life filled with emotionality and upset. There is little room for noticing and appreciating positive aspects of life.
Big drama destroys self-esteem. Self-esteem evolves from a sense of personal mastery and competence. As children develop, they gain awareness of their own coping capacities. But, it’s difficult for kids to develop a sense of personal competence when little events easily upset them. Therefore, they don’t feel prepared to handle life.
Big drama hampers their chance for life’s success. In order to succeed in life, these three traits are required in almost every arena: challenges need to be embraced, frustrations mastered, and an ability to persist in the face of obstacles developed.
When big drama emerges early in life, rather than turning toward the source of frustration and pursuing a path through the obstacles, kids get lost in the emotional reaction (i.e., drama) and disengage from the task at hand. The drama becomes the center of attention when efforts at persistence and problem-solving are needed. Thus, you can see the many ways that habitual drama could compromise your child’s future. So…
Here’s what you can do to reduce all that drama quickly:
Drama is like an addiction, so make sure you don’t feed it. Early on, the drama may appear as sincere, deeply felt emotion, so we naturally intervene to help our kids through difficult moments. However, the truth is revealed over time, as habitually exaggerated emotion is seen for the smallest of moments. Once a pattern of repeated drama is clear, it is essential to avoid feeding the “addiction” with your attention. Any repeated attention becomes an invitation for future drama – not a solution. So recognize the drama as an addiction that feeds on your attention, and stop today.
Kids grow and evolve by learning to have drama and then move through it on their own. In other words, children actually mature by engaging in drama (this is often inevitable) and then discovering that there is value in it. In fact, they learn from parents who surrender trying to fix the moment of drama and simply allow kids to get through it. This is a critical point. You will find that when your kids are allowed to have a moment of drama, they WILL get through it (if you leave it alone). Over time, they’ll get through it more and more quickly. Remember: don’t feed the addiction. When you can walk away from the drama, they, too, can learn to walk away from their own drama.
Above all, don’t reward the drama by giving in to drama demands. Drama often intensifies when kids are not getting what they want. At times, this drama shows itself as demanding, tantrum-like behavior in a public setting where you might be inclined to ‘give in’ to the drama. If you allow yourself to reward the drama in order to make it go away, you’re setting yourself up for misery extraordinaire in the years ahead.
Bottom line: It’s critical to view drama as a potential threat to your child’s future ease and happiness. Never give in to drama demands. Make sure that the drama gets nothing – not energy or attention. Above all, don’t give in to demanding drama! If you do, you’re teaching your kids that this is the way the world works. That if they throw a fit, the world will give them what they want. We both know that this will not lead to healthy relationships or employment or a healthy and satisfying life.
Instead, trust that your children will get through it. The more you simply allow the drama, the more it will fade away with time, and your child’s reactions will appear more appropriate and suitable to the circumstances.