It can be both frustrating and embarrassing when your child is a “drama queen.” You never quite know how to respond to their tears. You find yourself wondering, “Is she REALLY hurt, or just being dramatic?” You find yourself getting looks from other parents around you as you try to figure it out. You feel like they are all asking themselves what is wrong with you, and why you aren’t comforting your child.
My daughter, at 11 years old, is one of those children who can clearly be classified as a Drama Queen. She pulls a muscle in dance class, and you’d swear she broke her leg. She gets a scratch, and you’d think she had a limb cut off. She feels things VERY strongly! I usually try to take her “injuries” with a grain of salt. It’s against my very nature to not throw my arms around her and want to comfort her when she’s crying because she’s hurting. That said, I also know that if I do, she will likely continue in her downward spiral of tears and drama. I feel like I’m being cold-hearted by trying to get her to “suck it up.” I want her to toughen up, at least a little bit. I want her to be able to control those strong emotions, which usually end up with her screaming at me, whether I am trying to comfort her, help her calm herself down, or telling her to get over it (though I usually try to find better words than that).
Yesterday was a perfect example of this. Grace was taking Master Classes at Nationals for dance. After about 4 hours of pretty intense dance classes, I peeked in, and saw Grace texting (which I later found out, was her texting me to say her ear hurt). I asked how she was doing, and she gave me a thumbs down. She came out, and started crying that her ear hurt. I thought she was just tired and overwhelmed. I gave her a hug and tried to encourage her to go back in for just one more hour. She had a total melt down, but after being distracted by running to the bathroom, she decided to go back into the class. 45 minutes later, one of the teachers brought her out. Still crying that her ear hurt.
At the moment I saw her coming out with the teacher, I knew she wasn’t just tired and overwhelmed. That guilty feeling of reading her tears the wrong way started creeping up. As we drove home, Grace was screaming and pulling at her ears. I remembered a Minute Clinic on the way, and we made it 15 minutes before close. Yup, she had an ear infection, all right! During the night, her ear drum ruptured. I’m a little surprised it took that long (as she usually goes from it starting to hurt to bursting in a matter of a couple hours).
I don’t want to coddle my daughter, but I don’t want to ignore her pain. I really feel lost when she’s in her fits of crying, because I never know just how bad it really is. I’d love to hear how other parents handle these situations with their “drama queens.”