How to deal with kids’ dramas.

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Read my advice in Friday Magazine about drama queens and temper tantrums in older kids!


“As the photographer positioned his camera to start the fashion shoot, eight-year-old Jessica pouted and turned her back to the lens. Her mum, Sarah, rushed forward to see what the problem was. Usually when Jessica got the chance to model through Sarah’s PR work she enjoyed every moment, posing for the camera like a professional. But this time she was one of five children in a group shot and she wasn’t happy. “I don’t want my picture taken with her,” she snapped, pointing to the girl standing beside her. “She shouldn’t be here, she’s ugly.” Mortified, Sarah, 33, tried everything she could think of – flattery, bribery and then angry whispers – to persuade her youngest daughter to take part, but Jessica refused to be coaxed.

“Jessica acted like such a diva and I was so embarrassed,” Sarah recalls. “She was so jealous that she wasn’t getting all the attention. But then when the commotion was over, she stepped out for her solo shot and totally nailed it. Afterwards, I realised I actually admire her. She knows she’s beautiful and won’t compromise. Jessica might annoy people and lose a few friends along the way, but it’s diva personalities like hers that become superstars so maybe it’s a good thing?”

Jessica is just one of many children who are taking advantage of the plentiful opportunities the UAE has to offer. Families resident here have more money to spend on their children, they’re in private education and sampling the finer things in life at a younger age. While there are clear advantages, on the downside it also means we’re giving our kids higher expectations. They’re competing with friends for the latest fashions, must-have toys and extravagant birthday parties. The result is Mini Diva Syndrome – high-maintenance children who demand to get what they want, when they want and throw almighty tantrums when they don’t.

Dr Rose Logan is a clinical psychologist at Dubai’s The LightHouse Arabia clinic (, and has witnessed the rise of mini divas. “You can see this type of behaviour everywhere you go and almost anywhere in the world,” Dr Logan says. “Society, modern parenting, and culture can create a perfect storm where young children are encouraged to strive for and want material wealth and success, with very few checks on their behaviour.”

Parenting expert Sue Atkins ( agrees that diva behaviour in children could set them on a path to a difficult and frustrating adulthood. “All children have different personalities and the ability to show diva behaviour, but behind it all, families need to instil core values – a framework for living,’’ Sue explains. “As a parent, you need to decide what kind of adults you want your children to become and make sure they grow up with those values.”

Sue says that allowing your children to continue being divas will lead to problems in the future. Behaviour that might seem amusing, or be dismissed as just overconfidence now, will become a lot harder to deal with when your kids are teenagers or adults in the real world, being taken down a peg or two because they don’t consider others. Setting limits is a careful balancing act.

“I know it might sound silly but imagine your child is a sheep in a field,” Sue explains. “If you have a fence around them that’s too tight, they’ll push against it with all their might and eventually burst out of it with frustration. If there isn’t a fence at all, they feel vulnerable and unsafe. You need a fence with enough room to move, that you can make bigger as they grow.”


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