Some kids are very dramatic. Everything is a big deal. They cry loudly when slightly bruised, shout loudly when slightly impatient and whine loudly when slightly annoyed. Nothing is subtle. Other kids aren't that way all the time but, hey – they might also have their moments!

The problem with drama is that it is very catchy. When a kid gets all emotional, he triggers a similar response in the parent. Then the parent's hysteria further fuels the child's upset. And they both go spiraling out of control. Here's a little scenario to illustrate the dynamic:

Mom: "Hurry up. We're going to be late. Come on, get moving!"

Child: "I can't find my brush! Who took my brush? I can't leave until I brush my hair and I can't find my brush! I'm not going to school today if I don't find that brush!"

Mom: "I don't care whether or not you find that brush – you're going to school, is that clear? And stop running around like a chicken with her head cut off and just get your coat on because we have to leave!"

Child: (sobbing and screaming) "You always ruin my life! I hate you! You don't care about me at all… you only care about school. Well I don't! I don't care and I'll just run away when you drop me off because I'm not going in there with my hair unbrushed!"

You get the idea. From the pot to the frying pan, the conversation gets worse and worse. It didn't help that the mother in this scenario lit a little fire in the beginning by rushing her child along. In fact, parents can help their children learn to de-escalate by modeling a calm approach to important issues. Getting to school on time is important. However, it doesn't mean that parents have to get edgy when talking about it. Getting edgy when talking about important issues just models the "drama" approach, even if on a more minor scale.

Mom could have said something like, "Please move along because we're leaving in five minutes." While that might have modeled a better approach to the urgent matter, still, it would not necessarily have prevented the youngster from getting hysterical about the missing brush. However, once the child is expressing him or herself hysterically, it becomes crucial for the parent to de-escalate the conversation. The parent will have to overcome his or her natural, biological tendency to catch the hysteria. However, if the parent has the previous intention to respond to hysteria with absolute calm, it can be done. Just instruct your own brain: "The more hysterical my child is, the calmer I become."

If the parent in this case had been able to respond in a slow and low voice to the child's upset, she might have been able to help the child's nervous system calm down. "You can't find your brush? Would you like to borrow mine for now?" Even if the child still wants his or her own brush, the conversation is at least not taking a destructive bent. Even, if in the worst case scenario, the child just cannot collect him or herself, the parent has modeled a better way of responding to upset and alarm which may have a beneficial future impact on the child – particularly when the calmer approach is modeled repeatedly over two decades of parenting.

In order to respond calmly at intense moments, parents need to keep the larger picture in mind. It isn't about the brush, arriving to school on time or any other mundane issue; it's about how to live life. The Talmud teaches "upset pays no dividends, whereas forbearance and patience lead to health and longevity" (Kiddushin 41a). Parents can model and teach a healthy way of handling stressful moments every day, because every day contains so many such moments. So, next time your child loses his or her cool, try hard to keep yours – it's the most powerful thing you can do.