7 Strategies for Addressing Teenage Drama

Teenage Drama Queen
Christoph Martin / Photodisc / Getty Images

The emotional roller coaster associated with adolescence often leads to overly dramatic reactions over seemingly minor events. Whether it’s the latest drama related to an on-again off-again romantic relationship or a meltdown over the latest social media comment, many teens seem to experience a daily crisis of some sort. 

You can likely blame some of the teenage drama on biology. Brain development and hormonal shifts often lead to major mood swings.

Turning every minor issue into a major public crisis can also stem from a desire to get attention. And other times, dramatic reactions result as teens explore various ways to express their emotions.

The way you respond to a teen’s dramatic presentation will either add fuel to the fire, or help your teen calm down. These strategies can help you address teenage drama most effectively:

1. Use Reflective Listening

Avoid jumping in to solve the problem right away. Giving unsolicited advice is only likely to make the situation worse. Use reflective listening to show that you’re trying to understand the facts about the situation.

2. Validate Your Teen’s Feelings

Even if you don’t think your teen’s latest problem constitutes a crisis, avoid telling her she’s overreacting. Instead, validate your teen's feelings by saying something such as, “I can see you’re really angry about what happened at lunch today.” Helping your teen label her feelings – and then validating them – can often be instrumental in helping a teen see the situation rationally.

3. Stay Calm

Matching your teen’s level of emotion – by yelling or expressing frustration – will make the situation worse. Whether your teen is completely panicked over the latest rumor, or she insists her life is ruined because you’ve said she can’t go out on Friday night, it's essential to stay calm.

Avoid engaging in a heated discussion. If your teen is yelling or behaving disrespectfully, tell her you’re happy to talk about it when she can do so in an appropriate manner. Step outside, take a deep breath, or agree to revisit the conversation later.

5. Teach Emotion Regulation Skills

Explain that it’s okay to feel angry, worried, and sad, but make it clear that intense feelings don’t excuse bad behavior. Teach your teen to be in control of her emotions so her emotions don’t control her. Spend time teaching anger management skills and emotion regulation skills so she can find healthy ways to deal with her feelings.

4. Encourage Problem-Solving

Teach problem-solving skills by brainstorming solutions together. For example, if she’s convinced she’s never going to pass high school because she failed a test, discuss what she can do to increase the likelihood that she’ll be able to pass. Talk about her choices and the steps she can take.

6. Boost Your Teen’s Skills

A teen who isn’t sure how to strike up a conversation may immerse herself in the drama as a way to get attention. Similarly, a teen who isn’t sure how to deal with loneliness, may create drama to get attention. Take notice of your teen’s skill deficits and be willing to teach new communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and anger management skills.

As your teen’s self-confidence grows, her desire to get caught up in the drama will also likely decrease. Get her involved in lots of different activities as well. A busy teen will have less time to create drama.

7. Foster Gratitude

Dramatic reactions often stem from a sense of injustice – real or imagined. Fostering a sense of gratitude in your teen can help her focus on what she has, rather than demanding she deserves better. Teach your teen to notice all the positive things going on in her life and you’ll likely reduce the drama fast.

Continue Reading