How to Know if You're Raising a Brat

Are you raising a drama queen or king? Check out these tips for ways to handle the drama as a parent as well as conversation starters for older kids.

Dramatic kid, parenting, drama queen


Her friends drive her crazy. His coach doesn’t understand him. She fights with her teachers. He complains about your rules.

If your child’s world is consumed by drama, it might be time to ask yourself whether they are the ones causing it. 

Here are a few ways to tell if you have drama royalty in your house—and a few ideas of what to do about it. 

How the Drama Starts

It starts when we’re just wee toddlers, having a meltdown over a box of animal crackers that doesn’t make it into the grocery cart. It rears its ugly head again in childhood over things like a shot at the doctor’s office or a narrow loss in a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos®. 

We all have a little drama queen—or king—lurking inside us. 

As parents, we hope and expect that our kids’ tendency to blow things out of proportion will subside with age. A mark of maturity is the ability to push down our inner drama queen or king in favor of a more reasonable and even-tempered member of the court. 

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if your teenager is the one who embraces the role of drama queen or king long-term? 

The first thing we need to do is recognize the signs. We all want to see and believe the best in our kids, but we’re not doing them any favors when we stick our heads in the sand about habitually melodramatic behavior. 

8 Signs You’re Raising a Drama Queen or King

How do you know if your kid is a dramatic kid? Here are a few indications. 

  1. Every ache, pain or illness is worse than you can possibly understand. Her runny nose, cough and achy body aren’t signs of a common cold; they’re more likely the symptoms of a deadly pandemic. After all, the swine flu had to start somewhere.
     
  2. Everything is unfair. His teachers don’t like him. His teammates won’t pass him the ball. His little brother always gets his way. You would think the law of averages would even things out eventually, but somehow, your kid manages to get the raw end of the deal every single time.
     
  3. She has regular falling-outs. It’s true the teenage years are somewhat shaky in terms of relationships, but if she has a new best friend every month, you might have yourself a drama queen.
     
  4. There’s always a problem. And if there isn’t, he’ll make one up. Like that time he tweeted, “I MIGHT DIE” from the hall closet when a possible tornado was reported four counties away.
     
  5. She’s obsessed with appearance. Sure, most teenagers post the occasional selfie. But when she is consumed for 37 minutes by whether she should use the Ludwig or Mayfair filter, uses the hashtag, “#amicute” and then is bothered when certain people don’t “like” it, she’s taking narcissism to a new level.
     
  6. He’s easily overwhelmed. He’s always “slammed” and has “so much to do.”
     
  7. She thrives on crisis. She was late to Wednesday night youth group because she was “helping” a friend who broke up with her boyfriend, Jake. Then, she remembered her car was making a weird noise earlier, so she went to see if Jake could figure out what it was because she heard he’s good with cars. Also, she thought Jake might need someone to talk to. Basically, she says she hates drama, but somehow she knows every detail of every conflict within a two-mile radius.
     
  8. Everything is personal. What you said was, “Please clean your room.” What he heard was, “You’re lazy and don’t do anything right.” His tweets seem to be emotionally charged, too. Although when he said, “Thought you cared. Guess I was wrong,” you weren’t sure whom it was directed toward.

6 Ways Parents Can Stop the Drama

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Of course, there are more signs than these, but the basic principle is the drama queen is largely self-absorbed and, as a result, regularly makes mountains out of molehills. If you recognize the signs and acknowledge your kid could possibly be the drama queen (or king), try the following tips:

  1. Spend quality time together.
    Make sure it’s done in a “No Drama Zone.” This means your bonding probably shouldn’t happen while scrolling through Instagram or watching “The Bachelor” together. Drama queens thrive on attention because they feel unimportant, otherwise. Make sure your teen knows you love and care about her, even when there is nothing notably dramatic happening in her world.
     
  2. Acknowledge hurts, but refuse to coddle. 
    If you don’t act like it’s a big deal, he’ll likely learn to let things go, too. Help him see how it’s possible that maybe his teachers know he’s capable of doing better, that his teammates weren’t intentionally not passing him the ball, and that his little brother thinks it stinks being the youngest.
     
  3. Encourage healthy friendships, but don’t push dating. 
    You may think it would be adorable for your daughter to have a boyfriend, but a drama queen (or king) in a dating relationship is a recipe for, well, more drama. In other words, spend more time thinking of ways you can help her learn to build deep, lasting friendships than you do searching Pinterest for the best promposals.
     
  4. Teach and live authenticity.
    Teach the value of authentic, two-sided, eyeball-to-eyeball conversations, and set limits with everything else. If any person, regardless of age, spends the majority of his waking moments focused on social media or texting, he’s going to be a little out of touch with reality.
     
  5. Stop elevating your kids.
    If you’ve elevated your kids to the center of all family life, stop it. Part of the problem is on us. From the time they were eligible for peewee soccer, we’ve let their activities determine our schedules. Of course they think life revolves around them; so far, it has. Figure out how to live a more balanced family life and she’ll start figuring out she doesn’t have to be the center of attention.
     
  6. Remember God's love.
    Remember God loves your teenager and is invested in shaping them in His image even more than you are. Ask Him to keep molding that unique personality that brings so much passion and life to a room, and use it for His glory.

BONUS: Conversation Starters for Parents

Whether it’s five minutes in the car or an hour together at the dinner table, look for little moments throughout the day to start conversations with your teen. Here are some questions you can use to get started. Use them as open doors to your own story—share your experiences, and your faith.

Keep in mind it can be uncomfortable for many teens to open up with their parents. Respect their need to talk privately or even consider having this conversation on a walk where they don’t necessarily have to face you eye-to-eye.

  • How do you feel when you hear people gossiping about others at school?
  • What kinds of drama do you see the most at school?
  • Do you think Facebook and social media have led to more drama among your friends?
  • How can I help you when you feel you need to get something off your chest?
  • When in your day do you feel the most at peace?
  • How would you like to spend some time together over the next holiday?

Article courtesy of Parenting Teens magazine.

Cynthia Hopkins
Cynthia Hopkins is a writer, speaker, and the founder of Platform 320, a nonprofit ministry for women. Cynthia has been writing articles, Bible studies, and devotions for LifeWay for almost 20 years. She is the author of “What Now?” a 30-day book of devotions to help teenagers own their faith after the spiritual high of a camp or retreat experience. Through Platform 320, she leads multi-church women’s retreats, ministry wives retreats, and women’s mission endeavors. Her husband Clay is the associate pastor at their church, FBC College Station, TX. They have two young adult children, Brandon and Abby.