🤱"Is Your Child Being Dramatic?"

Tips to help you navigate moments with Oscar-worthy performances from your child.

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“It’s not hot, it’s lukewarm,” I told my 4-year-old after she shouted about the water being too hot as we rinsed our hands.

“It’s hot to me,” she responded.

I had a choice point: do I argue with my preschooler or do I validate her experience? As I reflected on this question, I had a flashback to a core memory in my own childhood. We were at a small restaurant having breakfast with my tías and abuelitos and I ordered something familiar: eggs. After taking the first bite I didn’t want anymore—they were over easy, but seemed undercooked. When I refused, one of my tías told me to stop complaining and that I had to eat them.

bbc lol GIF

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Responding would have been disrespectful, so I ate them—all of them. That afternoon I got sick to my stomach and it lasted through the next day. This was one of the first instances from my childhood that I associated with my struggle as an adult to advocate for my needs and I knew I didn’t want the same for my children.

This short exchange stopped me in my tracks—she was right. How could I know what that water felt like to her? I know what it felt like to me, and based off of that, I can make an assumption of what I think her experience was. However, there’s no way I could actually know. But before we continue this conversation, go support the sponsor we love today, here’s a quick ad for them.

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Although our intention as parents and caregivers isn’t to invalidate or minimize our children’s perceptions of their experiences, it still happens. When we do so, it can create an internal dialogue that leads to our children doubting themselves, becoming people pleasers, and questioning their realities. For those of us who grew up in homes where it was seen as disrespectful to respond to comments that minimized our perceptions, it might be challenging to shift our perceptions and habits around this practice.

One of the biggest ways I’ve been able to unlearn these patterns of internalized oppression—so that my children grow up feeling empowered—has been becoming aware of my beliefs around voicing our experiences. Some internalized beliefs I’ve uncovered are: It’s unsafe to voice how you feel. If you say something, people are going to think you’re too sensitive. No one’s going to believe you. When I became aware of these beliefs, I was able to start creating new beliefs, grounded in my value of advocacy.

Another shift I made was acknowledging two things that can be true at once: a person’s perceptions are their reality and good intentions can still create harm. This one has been especially important in navigating moments like these with my younger kiddos (and teens). I can have the best of intentions, but if the way it was received caused harm or certain feelings, it’s still my responsibility to own my part. Something I continue to work on and refine on a daily basis.

*Please give a gentle round of applause too…*

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By: Leslie Hannans

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In the moments when I start to think, She’s being overdramatic or It’s not that big of a deal, I pause and remind myself, My reality is not her reality, but both are VALID. This reframe allows me to shift into a place where I’m ready to first validate my own experience. I’ve found that it’s a bit hard for me to truly validate hers when I gaslight myself by minimizing my own experience or shaming myself for the way I feel. I do this using the simple phrase, “I’m feeling _______ because I’m needing ______.” In this instance, I was initially feeling annoyed because I was needing to get on to the next thing (sounds silly when I write it, but it’s true and very common).

Once I’m able to validate my own experience, it’s easier for me to validate hers. If I could press rewind on this moment, I would have said, “Ooh, that was hot. Next time I’ll help you do a quick temperature check so we can make sure it’s good to go.” It would have validated her experience and also allows me as the adult to take accountability for my part, as well as name how I’m going to support her. In this instance, however, I owed her a moment of repair by apologizing for my contribution and naming what I would do next time.

Remember, there’s no playbook for parenting. What works well for one child might look different for another. Use this as a guide to help you try things out to see what works best for your family. If you’re looking for some additional tools to support yourself at the moment, You can grab my FREE Calm Mom Kit below for some of my clients’ favorite grounding tools I teach.


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