I LOVE to help parents answer their toughest parenting questions. I’m starting a regular column on CafeMom.com called “Ask Dr. Meg” and I’m counting on YOU, followers and friends, to send me your questions. So, contact me via the blog, Facebook, Twitter or on my mom site at CafeMom.com–I’m here for you.
Krissy, one of my Twitter friends, sent me a question this week:
@MegMeeker Any suggestions on getting past the drama queen stage with a 4yo? Hope the 2yo doesn’t pick it up too.
Four year old girls can be a bigger handful than 2 or 3 year old girls. Why? Because they’ve figured out that they are completely separate people from their Moms and that they can exert control over their environment (and this includes Mom, Dad and siblings.) One four year old I heard about recently threw temper tantrums easily, cried at the drop of a hat and whenever her mother told her that she couldn’t have her way, she became hysterical. In short, normal responses seemed completely exaggerated. Her mother was worried that something was really wrong with her.
Let’s tease a few things out here. First, girls have very different personalities and the truth is, some love attention. This isn’t because they’re needy, they are just very sensitive and expressive. Life gets to them a bit more.Combine this with the new sense of independence and demands on them to begin to behave like a more reasonable girls, not like out of control toddlers, and the perfect storm can erupt. Outwardly, 4 year old girls can appear as though they are over reacting to life itself.
But mothers should take comfort. First of all, drama queens will realize over a period of a few years (not days) that every time they create drama, the world around them won’t jump. At first, this will make them mad, so they will up the ante. The most important reaction a mother should have is to minimize the drama and don’t feed into it. For instance, don’t act frustrated or rattled and very matter- of -factly tell her that if she’s going to have fits or make an enormous fuss, she must do so in private. Often, mothers get so frustrated that they respond with equal intensity and this exacerbates the situation.
Second, realize that, even though your drama queen is seeking attention the wrong way, that, if you continue to give her attention in healthy ways and stay calm when she throws fits, her drama will fade. She may always be a very intense, sensitive peron, but she will learn how to channel this energy into a healthier direction.
Be patient. Many girls can’t figure out any other way to express their frustations than through drama. Don’t play into it, but don’t ignore it either. Stay calm, don’t let her behavior push your buttons and help her channel her energy into different directions. And, if younger siblings are around, be sure that she doesn’t take all of the attention off of them. Drama queens love being the center of the attention in the family, but as long as you are certain to give equal time to all other siblings, she won’t make them resentful and they won’t imitate her behavior.
So, readers, what do you think? How do you deal with your little drama queens?