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Dealing With a Drama Tween

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When 11-year-old Kayla Samuels found out her father had bought a pair of gym shorts emblazoned with her middle school's name, she reacted as calmly as she could. "If you wear those shorts out of the house, I'll never speak to you again!" she shrieked, then slammed her bedroom door. Welcome to the drama-tween years.

What's up Kids this age are just beginning to carve out an identity for themselves, says Mary Ann Lowry, a Dallas parenting coach specializing in tweens. But they also feel tremendous pressure to be a part of a group. This push-pull, coupled with the bubbling stew of hormones, makes for some serious theatrics, especially from girls.

How to deal Pick your battles and talk everything out calmly. Ask your child: "Can you help me understand why you did this? Anything you say is okay." The goal is to start a conversation about what's bothering her and keep it going, says Lowry. Be empathetic and help her make sense of the situation. Of course, there will be times when she slams her door, cries, and refuses to listen to you. In these cases, you just have to walk away until she calms down.

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