Any child might react “dramatically” to life changes or circumstances—and a natural “drama queen” might really turn up the volume in these cases. For example, a family move, unpredictable or inconsistent boundaries, or a major upheaval in the family environment can trigger overly-dramatic behavior or extreme reactions. “Some children find that they are unable to cope effectively with the stressors and they react…with volatile behavior, screaming, (and) crying uncontrollably to get what they want,” Bahar says.
The label “drama queen” is laced with negative connotation, but Bahar considers a child with these tendencies simply “as one who needs excessive amounts of attention in order to feel in control.”
She also cautions parents, however, when dramatic behavior escalates. What begins as an expressive personality in a youngster could lead to an older child’s taking on too much or pushing boundaries in ways that could be destructive.
“Keep in tune with a child who tends to change peers consistently, dresses provocatively, has older friends, possibly experiments with substances, has intense emotional relationships, and is territorial with peers,” Bahar warns parents.
Consult with your pediatrician or child psychologist if your child is unable to cope, isolates him- or herself, or engages in self-destructive behaviors like promiscuity, substance abuse, or eating disorders.
By Christa Melnyk Hines
Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines and her husband are the parents of two active, sometimes melodramatic, boys. Christa’s latest book is Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World.