Our daughter had quite a flair for the dramatic when she was younger (I can’t imagine from whom she inherited that trait!). At one point, I warned our pediatrician I would probably bring my daughter in one day with an arm that had been broken for a couple of days. I told the doctor I wasn’t abusive. It was just that every tiny injury our daughter had at that age was most definitely “a broken something, from which I may probably die” (pronounced with much wailing and gnashing of teeth). The pediatrician smiled and said it was a common story from the parents of her patients.
If your child isn’t the dramatic sort, then the previous paragraph makes absolutely no sense to you and you can skip reading the rest. If, however, you totally understand what I am describing, chances are you too have given birth (after three days of excruciating labor – but I digress!) to a dramatic child.
I did a little research before starting to write about the dramatic child and found that much of the drama is actually genetic. Yes, you can blame this on the relative of your choosing. It seems some children are just born a more sensitive sort and really do feel emotions and sensory input more deeply than others. If your child is gifted or has certain special needs, this can also heighten the intensity of the emotional responses your child has to experiences. Throw in hormones and there may be days when you wonder if your child has some sort of disorder.
In general, a dramatic child can be easily shaped by a loving parent. As with almost everything having to do with children though, there are a couple of exceptions for which you may need extra help from a doctor or psychologist. The first is a relatively rare (2% of the population) disorder which causes the person to need to constantly be the center of attention. Interestingly, a number of professional actors/actresses really do suffer from this! If you suspect your child may fall into this category, it is probably a good idea to discuss the situation with your pediatrician and get referrals if necessary.
The other is the child who is not getting enough attention from his parents. As a result, he feels the need to “up the ante” to get the parent to respond appropriately to his needs. If you are concerned this may be the case, try paying a little extra attention to your dramatic child for a few weeks and see if the behavior changes. If not, most likely, you have the average, garden variety, dramatic child.
If your child has a flair for the dramatic, my advice is to not only embrace it, but learn to enjoy and even appreciate it. We have found a sense of humor about the situation, helps a lot. Sometimes with love, we would be nearly as dramatic (and a bit silly) with our response. Our daughter would soon catch on and usually start laughing. (When she didn’t, we figured we really might have an actual problem on our hands.)
Once our daughter was a little older, we enrolled her in musical theater classes. Not only did it give her a creative outlet for her talents, but it taught her some important skills about speaking in front of an audience. Ironically, our daughter is also an introvert, so the classes really helped her learn to be at ease in front of large groups of people.
The great thing about drama is that it is a gift which can be used to further God’s Kingdom. We use lots of drama during the Bible class hour to make the stories in the Bible come to life for our children. Some churches also use drama during their worship services. You may find your dramatic child is also an excellent public speaker or singer as well. The talent to be dramatic can also be molded in your child and you may find he is the next popular preacher or she is a wonderful Bible class teacher.
So the next time your child has “broken her arm for real this time”, do what another mother and I learned to do in those early years. Pull out the ace bandage and ice and dramatically care for the injury. (assuming it really is minor!). Then fire up your computer and find some drama classes to help your child hone her gift from God. Then help her learn to use it for Him.
What have you done to work with your dramatic child? This is one of the questions I get the most from readers. We found ignoring the situation rarely worked, but we did walk a fine line between allowing her to express her drama and not allowing her to over-do it to the point where it would curtail normal activities. We also noticed it diminished greatly over time as she approached her teen years. Have you had the same experience? In what creative ways has your older dramatic child used her talents to serve God? I would love to hear about your experiences, especially if your child is now an adult!