How to handle drama in middle school

Tips for Navigating Inevitable Arguments

Jennifer O’Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.

How to handle drama in middle school

Sean is a fact-checker and researcher with experience in sociology and field research.

How to handle drama in middle school

Kolett / Getty Images

Middle school can be a lot of fun in many ways. Middle schoolers are learning independence, developing new skills and making new friends. Unfortunately, middle school is also drama central. There’s a lot of drama happening in middle school, from gossiping to arguments to bullying. And now that your child is in middle school, there’s no escaping it. But you can help your child minimize school drama.

Tips to Help Kids Avoid Middle School Drama

Teaching her how to avoid or minimize school drama will help your child not only in middle school but in high school, college, and beyond.

Choose Friends Carefully

It’s hard to tell a child who just wants to be accepted by her peers to choose her friends carefully, but it is important to point out what makes a great friend.

Encourage your child to develop friendships with people who have similar interests and who refrain from gossip and drama. Point out how a frenemy can be harmful and make life miserable. If your child has great friendships, gossip, and drama will be minimal.

Don’t Gossip

Gossip is the root of all school drama, and by avoiding it your child may steer clear of a lot of unnecessary drama.   Encourage her to say NO to gossip and to resist the urge to pass it along.

Minimize Your Online Presence

A lot of the school drama that happens today begins on social media or via email or texts. It’s a lot to ask, but if your child waits a few years to open social media accounts, the benefits will probably outweigh the negatives.

If you can’t convince your child to steer clear of social media, write a social networking contract that your tween has to sign. The contract will detail what behavior is and is not allowed online.

Shrug It Off

Let’s face it, middle school can get ugly and so can the behavior of peers and even good friends. While your child may feel slighted by or upset over the behavior of a friend, it might make more sense to help her learn how to shrug it off, rather than make a big deal over the incident.

Tweens have a habit of making a big deal over trivial things. Help your child recognize the difference between an incident that requires follow-up and one that should just be forgotten or ignored.

Keep It to Yourself

You want your child to confide in friends when she needs to, but it’s also important for a tween or teen to know when to keep private information private. This is a hard lesson for some to learn, and many learn it the hard way. The bottom line: if you don’t want everyone to know about something, it’s best not to tell anyone, or to only tell a close friend whom you know is reliable and will keep your secrets.

On the flip side, your child should also understand that when a friend confides in her, she’s not to spread the information around. The exception is when a friend might be in a troubling situation, and then it might be wise to tell a trusted adult.

Be Honest

Drama often starts with a lie. Even little white lies can cause a lot of trouble. If your child tells her friend that she can’t spend the night because she’s sick, but really she’s hanging out with another friend, that’s the beginning of trouble.

Encourage your tween to be honest with her friends, and to avoid those little white lies. They may seem like a good idea at the time, but they can end friendships and start a lot of trouble.

West Middle School

How to Avoid Middle School Drama

By Jennifer O’Donnell

Choose Friends Carefully: It’s hard to tell a child who just wants to be accepted by her peers to choose her friends carefully, but it is important to point out what makes a great friend. Encourage your child to develop friendships with people who have similar interests and who refrain from gossip and drama. Point out how a frenemy can be harmful and make life miserable. If your child has great friendships, gossip and drama will be minimal.

Don’t Gossip: Gossip is the root of all school drama, and by avoiding it your child may steer clear of a lot of unnecessary drama. Encourage her to say NO to gossip and to resist the urge to pass it along.

Minimize Your Online Presence: A lot of the school drama that happens today begins on Facebook, Twitter or via email or texts. It’s a lot to ask, but if your child waits a few years to open a Facebook account, the benefits will probably outweigh the negatives. If you can’t convince your child to steer clear of Facebook, write a social networking contract that your tween has to sign. The contract will detail what behavior is and is not allowed online.

Shrug it Off: Let’s face it, middle school can get ugly and so can the behavior of peers and even good friends. While your child may feel slighted by or upset over the behavior of a friend, it might make more sense to help her learn how to shrug it off, rather than make a big deal over the incident. Tweens have a habit of making a big deal over trivial things. Help your child recognize the difference between an incident that requires follow-up and one that should just be forgotten or ignored.

Keep it to Yourself: You want your child to confide in friends when she needs to, but it’s also important for a tween or teen to know when to keep private information private. This is a hard lesson for some to learn, and many learn it the hard way. The bottom line: if you don’t want everyone to know about something, it’s best not to tell anyone, or to only tell a close friend whom you know is reliable and will keep your secrets. On the flip side, your child should also understand that when a friend confides in her, she’s not to spread the information around. The exception is when a friend might be in a troubling situation, and then it might be wise to tell a trusted adult.

Be Honest: Drama often starts with a lie. Even little white lies can cause a lot of trouble. If your child tells her friend that she can’t spend the night because she’s sick, but really she’s hanging out with another friend, that’s the beginning of trouble. Encourage your tween to be honest with her friends, and to avoid those little white lies. They may seem like a good idea at the time, but they can end friendships and start a lot of trouble.

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By Nancy Schatz Alton

Published on: October 10, 2021

How to handle drama in middle school

It’s not your imagination: Your tween’s friendships have gotten trickier and that can mean major drama at home. Middle school drama is inevitable but during these pandemic times, it can feel even more overwhelming.

The middle school years create the perfect storm of changes, says teen life coach Sheri Gazitt.

“Relationships can get messy as everyone rides their own roller coaster of changes,” says Gazitt, the founder of the Seattle organization Teen Wise.

“It’s not only that many kids attend new schools,” she adds. “The pace of puberty varies drastically [with] interests changing and emotions running higher as the brain’s amygdala takes over.”

Brain science

Understanding the teen brain can help explain why a single lunch room incident can feel like a tsunami to your child.

“Kids begin to develop self-awareness and metacognition. They recognize how they relate to the world while also seeing how they are perceived by others,” Gazitt says. The result? “Hyper-awareness about social circles and social hierarchies.”

Not helping is the fact that your child’s emotion center (the amygdala) is often in control.

“An emotional interpretation of events is entirely different than a logical interpretation. It leads to more intense experiences, more emotional reactions and more confusion,” says Gazitt.

The part puberty plays

And it’s not only the brain: Everyone develops at their own pace physically, too.

“Kids who hit puberty first will begin to see the world in a different light. This can lead to changes in behavior, interests, philosophies, values and maturity between fifth and eighth grade.”

Such radical change can mean big changes for friendships. Some kids abruptly discard friends while others hang onto friendships that no longer serve them, Gazitt says.

Imagine this

To better understand what this all means, imagine a lunch room packed with kids.

Your child sees their best friend sit at a new table — without them. Rationally, there could be any number of reasons why this happened. Emotionally? Not so much.

“When your daughter says, ‘Today, Katie completely ignored me at lunch,’ try not to say, ‘I can’t believe she did this to you!’ or ‘You should just talk to her,’” says Gazitt.

Instead, try problem solving with your child. Ask: “How do you feel? Why do you think Katie ignored you? Are you gals going through something? What do you think tomorrow will be like?”

Empathizing with your child’s emotions often means getting a handle on your own. Gazitt says kids tell her that sometimes, they avoid telling theirs parents things because they know they’ll blow them out of proportion.

“Our kids are already hyper-emotional, so it’s our job to keep calm,” says Gazitt. “Be that stable rock in the raging river. Don’t jump in with them.”

For example, if your kid tells you someone said their outfit is ugly, first ask why they think someone would say that. Then, help your child come up with responses for next time.

“Ask them what would happen if they said, ‘Oh, yeah! Thanks!’ or ‘I like it’ and then walked away,” says Gazitt, who adds that parents need to be mindful that mean behavior is different than bullying.

Best advice: Stay on the sidelines

If parenting is a soccer game, imagine these years as a good time to get off the field.

“The best way to support our kids though friendship drama is to be on the sidelines coaching them instead of being in the middle of the field,” Gazitt says. “Ultimately, they have to put in the work. It’s their life.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018, and updated in October 2021.

I’m not sure why I’m reacting so strongly to hearing about conflicts at school.

How to handle drama in middle school

Dear Therapist,

We have two sons, fraternal twins, who are in middle school. They both play sports, participate in other activities, and have some mutual friends.

This past school year, I’ve become more emotionally involved in their social interactions. For example, there is one boy, “Matthew,” who bullied one of my twins last year, and now seems to be getting into trouble this year with my other twin. I don’t like how Matthew is acting. I’ve talked endlessly to both of my boys about him, tried to give them advice and let them work it out, but now I’m so angry at Matthew I can barely say hi to him at school. I recognize that my kids have faults as well, but I can’t seem to separate my anger from how I treat Matthew when I see him.

Another example is during sports. Both of my boys are on the same lacrosse team. Another child, “Peter,” brags all the time and puts my kids down in subtle ways. It bothers my boys—one much more than the other—but it bothers me so much that I find myself angrier at Peter than I should be.

Why am I getting so emotionally charged lately, when I know I should just be there for my kids and let them work this out?


Dear Anonymous,

It’s natural for parents’ protective instincts to kick in when they feel that their kids are being mistreated, but it’s also important to be curious, as you are, about the intensity of these reactions.

Your question isn’t just about the intensity, though—it’s also about the timing. You’re wondering why these feelings are so strong now, and it may have to do with the fact that many parents experience a sense of loss as their kids get older. When children are babies and toddlers, parents are wholly involved in their social worlds, and the leap into elementary school doesn’t feel so far because they still need so much from us.

But a big shift occurs in middle school. Parents generally have a much less significant role at school because there tend to be fewer ways to get involved, and kids don’t want their parents around as much. Their growing independence is on display, and that can leave parents with a mixture of pride and grief.

How do some parents deal with the grief that accompanies the process of letting go? They hold on tighter. For some, that might manifest when preventing their kids from being age-appropriately independent—say, not allowing them to go to the mall or movies without an adult. In others, it might be an attempt to dictate their decisions, as if they were still young and incapable of making these choices on their own. And in others, the grief might be experienced as an over-the-top need to protect them from the world into which they’re rapidly moving—which might look a lot like the anger you’re experiencing.

It’s also true that as our kids get older, we have more memories of being their age. And if those memories include being mistreated, excluded, or belittled, we may have intense emotional reactions when we perceive this happening to our own kids. But it’s important to remember that you and your sons are different people and that your kids may have different responses to difficult social interactions than you did, just like they bother one son more than the other.

None of this means that you should disengage from your sons’ social interactions. Letting them work it out doesn’t mean you can’t be a sounding board and help them think through things if they come to you for help. (Letting them come to you is crucial: If you’re coming to them, you may be unintentionally escalating this.) They still need your guidance and support, and doing so effectively might quell some of your anger. So let’s consider how to do that in the two examples you gave.

First, you say that last year Matthew bullied one of your sons, and it’s important to distinguish between your perception as a protective parent and a real case of bullying. The National Centre Against Bullying defines it as “when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond.” Bullying should always be taken seriously and requires adult intervention—starting with apprising school professionals of what’s going on and making a plan with them to address it immediately.

If, however, it’s not bullying but something more like unkindness, joking around in a way that’s not well received, not being a good friend, or generally being a doofus or clueless middle schooler, this is a great learning opportunity for both you and your boys. Here, you can help them understand what role they might play in this dynamic with Matthew (since you recognize that they aren’t perfect either). You might ask them: What would Matthew say about the difficulty between you if he were to give his version of events? Is he bothered by something you’re doing? For instance, maybe your boys talk to other kids about how much they don’t like Matthew, or about how annoying he is. Maybe something happened between them a while back that hasn’t been resolved. Or maybe something’s going on with Matthew, independent of your boys, and they can learn to respond to his behavior in a way that doesn’t provoke more of it.

The point is not to say, “Yeah, Matthew is awful,” but to ask instead, “What do you think this is really about?” and “What do you think are other possible reasons that he did/said that?”

As for Peter, here again you can help your sons—and you—focus on the bigger picture. Rather than getting emotionally riled up by Peter’s put-downs, maybe you can talk to your boys about having compassion for this kid who feels so insecure about himself—and that is where these put-downs are coming from—that he feels the need to belittle others. Here, you’d be modeling how not to personalize these types of comments and how to be less reactive to them. The world is filled with difficult people, and we all have to learn how to deal with them.

Not only will these kinds of conversations give your sons practice with resolving conflict and considering another perspective, but they will help you gain some perspective as well. Meanwhile, if you do find yourself becoming nostalgic about their childhood, or thinking a lot about how quickly they’re growing up, in those moments it will help to remember that you aren’t alone—and that being present for your boys in a healthier way will give all of you the kind of experience you’ll be proud to look back on.

Dear Therapist is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let The Atlantic use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.

First there was Chris. I met him in third grade, and we remained best friends until fifth grade when he hit me with his ceramic dinosaur on the bus ride home. My best friend in sixth grade was Manoj. The best thing about our friendship was eating his mom’s amazing Indian food, which I did often. I think there was something about a hungry, chubby, red-haired boy scarfing down her food with indebted gratitude that kept her cooking for me. Manoj moved to Pittsburgh and I was forced to resume eating my Hungry Man meals. Last was Tom. We were buddies and enjoyed collecting comic books and playing Dungeons and Dragons—please don’t judge. Then I joined the middle school football team and instantly became cool, in my eyes anyway, and stopped talking to him. Nice.

Working as a middle school and high school counselor for 17 years, I now know this friendship drama is pretty common. But as the parent of a middle schooler, helping your child deal with it can be challenging and emotional, and can make getting hit with a ceramic dinosaur sound like a good alternative—I’m also a dad of three so I know that very well. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do when the friendship drama starts to heat up.

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How to help your kid through friendship drama

Be a good listener. Your child may have very strong emotions surrounding their friendship issues and they often just need to vent. Take the time to listen and let them talk. You don’t need to have the answers.

Take things seriously. Remember that friendship issues and the drama associated with them are very real and serious to the kids involved. Adults looking at the situation are often prone to think it is “ridiculous” or “stupid.” This quickly makes you an adult who does not understand and in turn, ineffective at helping.

Take a deep breath. Seeing your child treated poorly can be infuriating, which can negatively influence how you respond. Suggestions based on anger, spite, and revenge can too easily bubble to the surface. Remember these are kids. A child’s behavior cannot be viewed in parallel with that of an adult.

React slowly. Take their concerns seriously, but often by doing nothing, the problem will either be forgotten by the kids or they will correct it on their own. Direct parental intervention should be a last resort.

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Be a good role model. The kids are always watching. Take inventory of how you are treating your friends to make sure you are sending an appropriate message.

Remind your child how real friends act. Words such as trustworthy, respectful, kind, good listener, and supportive may come to mind.

Determine if your kid is part of the problem. Keep a close eye on your child’s text messages and social media to make sure their behavior is in line with your expectations. The best kids can make poor choices at this age.

Consider a phone blackout period. Giving your child a break from their phone, which can be a conduit for fueling the fire of social drama, can help things simmer down.

Is a new friend group needed?

Friendships in middle school are fluid and many don’t last very long. Maturity levels and interests are changing at varying rates which can cause children to feel disconnected to their old friends. These changes are often accompanied by pain, tears, fear, and sadness, and are all part of growing up.

If your child is reporting that they are unhappy, being mistreated, or feeling consistently left out, it may be time to help them explore making some new friends. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you help them make new connections.

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Encourage participation in new activities or clubs. You may experience some push back on this. Be patient and consistent in your suggestions. Helping your child find things they can feel good about will boost their confidence, a key ingredient to making new friends.

Remind them they aren’t alone. There are many students in middle school actively looking to make new friends. From your child’s perspective, it may appear as if “everyone already has their friends.” They do not. And let them know that switching friend groups is scary and takes courage and time.

Make a list. Ask your child to list the names of the kids they think are nice. Brainstorm ways they might be able to get to know them better. Recess, lunchtime, before/after school, or as a partner for a group project are some possibilities.

Stay positive. They will get through it!

What if your kid doesn’t want to talk to you?

There is a very real possibility that your child may not want to talk with you about the social drama but is comfortable showering you with the resulting emotional shrapnel. This does not make you a bad parent, it just means you have an adolescent. Conducting some covert operations to facilitate a discussion with another adult can help. Don’t be afraid to call your school counselor, relative, or trusted friend and ask them to talk with your child.

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As your child matures and their identity starts to solidify, so will their friendships. The drama will slowly dissipate, leaving you more time to enjoy some warm naan and a nice book!

Andy Mullen has been both a middle school and high school counselor for 17 years. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lafayette College and his master’s degree in Counseling and Human Relations from Villanova University. Andy currently lives in Radnor, Pennsylvania with his wife and three children. He is also the author of Middle Schooled.

The new school year dust is finally beginning to settle and families are adjusting to their routines: rising early to catch the bus, making sure lunch boxes and backpacks are ready the night before (or part of the early morning scramble!), figuring out the logistics of after-school practices and activities, and strategizing on how to stay on top of homework, reports, projects and oh—yes—tween and teen friendship drama!

If you’ve got adolescent children in your midst, particularly girls, you’ve most likely experienced the emotional roller coaster that accompanies this somewhat turbulent time in their development. You’ll witness overly dramatic reactions to seemingly minor events whether it be the heart-wrenching spreading of gossip or starting trouble on social media, or perhaps you have a child with an on-again, off-again teen romance. Whatever the case may be for the crisis or drama, the constant turmoil can be frustrating and leave parents feeling totally helpless.

As the parent of eight, most of whom are teens or now in their early twenties, I have witnessed decades of drama. Interestingly, I’ve noticed it’s gotten much more pronounced with my youngest two (a tween and young teen) than it was when my oldest few were in the trenches of junior and high school. Here are 8 effective strategies to deal with all the teen drama.

8 Ways to Deal with Teen Drama

  1. Be calm
  2. Listen up
  3. Encourage a wide network of friends
  4. Advocate for self-respect
  5. Discourage the social media war
  6. Discourage the victim role
  7. Identify helpful resources
  8. Promote the golden rule

Let’s explain each strategy a bit more thoroughly.

Strategy #1: Be Calm

As a parent, when we see one of our kids experiencing emotional hurt, our instincts are to want to fix the situation immediately so they won’t have to suffer any longer than necessary. My 12-year old daughter has had a rough start to her 6th-grade year in middle school because some of her friendships have taken an unexpected trip down drama lane. It’s very difficult to watch from the sidelines and not get riled up when you see your once happy-go-lucky child down in the dumps over circumstances that seem unfair and, quite frankly, plain old mean!

I must admit one of my first reactions was to want to join in and get upset right along with her, but I realized that that would only add fuel to the fire. In How to End Teen Girl Drama psychologist Laura Kastner, co-author of Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens recommends staying calm and asking your daughter to do the same. “When your teen reports drama that has hurt her feelings or made her feel ostracized by her friends, it’s tempting to get upset or join forces with your teen to become dramatic, but that won’t help the situation. One of the benefits that your daughter gets from drama is your attention. Ensure that you give her positive attention by using the complaint as a catalyst for communication, rather than reinforcing the drama.”

Strategy #2: Listen Up

One of the most important, yet seemingly difficult, things we can do for our children is to be attentive listeners. With so many distractions in our busy lives—cell phones that are on 24/7, work commitments, homework and sports practices, play dates, pet responsibilities, grocery shopping—we tend to multi-task our way through the day, often neglecting any quiet time to listen to our loved ones.

Becoming a good listener when your child wants to share something is key to fostering understanding and trust, yet many times we listen half-heartedly without even realizing it because we are simply in the habit of being too busy.

It’s completely normal to want to fix whatever’s wrong in your child’s life, especially if it’s making the child sad, frustrated, or afraid. Kids need to have their feelings validated, not swept under the carpet. If your daughter’s boyfriend has just broken up with her, don’t rush to say something like, “You’re better off without him, you’ll find someone much better.” Listen to her as she shares her pain and let her know you understand: “It never feels good to have someone say they don’t want to spend time with us. It’s OK to feel sad about this right now.” You don’t want to encourage wallowing in self-pity, but let her have a chance to share and then process her feelings, and once that’s happened you can jump in and try to cheer her up.

Strategy #3: Encourage a Wide Network of Friends

One of the simplest, yet most powerful prevention strategies for helping kids cope with friendship challenges is to encourage them to cast a wide net which will help them seek out friendships both in their neighborhood, at school, on a team, and through a club, a church youth group, or co-workers.

Tara Reddington, school psychologist and owner of G6 Family Coaching in Rhode Island (as well as mother of five) notes that lots of times girls throw out bait to “test” their relationships, and that this type of behavior is unhealthy and hurtful. “Remind girls that it’s OK to have lots of friends and they don’t have to hide it when they hang out with one group, for fear that the other group may get mad at them. There is a lot of game playing with girls. That’s where boys can take the lead in teaching their female counterparts. Boys will hang out with anyone and often the first available. They don’t care who knows or who finds out. There is no hidden agenda and no paranoia involved.”

Strategy #4: Advocate for Self-Respect

Most times, teen friendships that are tested by various dramatic situations—gossip, intentionally leaving a friend out of a party invitation, stealing a boyfriend—are eventually repaired and life goes on.

There will be, however, occasions when the friendship cannot withstand the hurt and bad feelings, and those involved will part ways and the friendship will end. If that happens, encourage your teen to do so with respect for both herself and the person she is ending the relationship with.

In 4 Steps to Help Your Daughter Deal with Middle School Drama, a helpful mantra is recommended for tweens and teens: create distance with dignity. “No matter what your daughter’s friends are doing—how cold or exclusive they have become—encourage her to avoid ugly wars of words. Remind her not to use fake apologies or justify unkindness with “just kidding.” Discourage her from talking badly about the former friends to others. In fact, teach your child not to put much energy into the broken friendship at all. Appreciate it for what it once was, but shift her focus to all that is going right in her life—to the friendships and activities that help her feel good about herself.”

How to handle drama in middle school

Parenting teens in today’s society is becoming more and more difficult. If you notice your teenager is fighting with a friend, your first instinct might be to step in, but should you?

With the bullying and suicide rates at an all time high, it is normal to be concerned. However, this doesn’t mean you should dive into a pattern of helicopter parenting, checking on your teen every chance you get. It is important to define and keep boundaries for both your sanity and the relationships of your teen. While some may argue that it is our job as parents to step in and ensure our children are succeeding, this is not always the case. Especially with teenagers, intervening comes with the risk of pushing your child even further away, and you don’t want them to feel like they can’t trust you or come to you during the really tough times.

It is normal to wonder, “What can I do? How do I help? Do I help? Is it being too nosey or am I overstepping boundaries?”

There is no short answer to the many questions that may be ruminating in your brain and driving you to insanity, but there are guidelines you can follow to help you make a more informed decision.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do:

  • First ask your child if they would like your support.
  • If they would like your support, start by asking the important questions:
    • Do you feel like you are being bullied?
    • Do your teachers, school counselor, or principal know what is going on?
  • Communicate to your teenager that if someone is being unkind that it is wise to be the bigger person. This can mean ignoring what the friend is saying or letting that friend know that you won’t engage in fighting as this this is not how you treat friends.
  • Suggest that they try and have a conversation with the friend. They might open with, “I am sorry you feel that way. My intention was never to hurt your feelings.”
  • LISTEN. If they will open up to you, let it be known that you are here to listen, not judge and will not offer suggestions unless they ask. This will help set your child up for success.
  • It is perfectly okay to tell your child that if their friend isn’t treating them well that it’s ok to end the friendship and encourage other healthy friendships.

When To Stay Out Of It

Sometimes you need to have tough conversations with your teen about how to handle arguments with friends. There will be situations that as a parent you need to take the high road and let your teenagers fight their own battles. This is ultimately how they learn how to handle situations that are uncomfortable and how to take responsibility for their own actions. It is important to let children problem solve, and often it comes with trial and error. No teenager wants their parents getting involved as they run the risk of being a bigger target and being even more embarrassed! Believe me I know you want to step in out of love and you care deeply about your kid’s feelings, but sometimes you just have to step back and let them be a kid.

Some parenting experts will also tell you that if you get involved, you are making your child an easy target. “If a parent is always stepping in, there will be no end to that — you’re teaching the child that you will always solve their problems in life, and that is a disaster, and we’re doing more of that than ever before,” said Michael Bradley, Philadelphia-based adolescent psychologist and author of When Things Get Crazy With Your Teen. Trust your child and teach them to be strong and stick up for themselves through communicating healthy boundaries.

Warning Signs That It May Be Time To Step In:

  • Their grades start to decline and this is abnormal for him/her
  • Withdrawing and isolating tendencies
  • Making less plans to hang out with friends
  • Telling school authority hasn’t helped and the situation is getting worse
  • You notice your child becoming angry or short-tempered

Real Life Examples

As a Parenting Guru and host of the podcast, Parenting with a Punch, I’ve worked with many different parents and children to help them succeed and feel empowered through my on-demand parenting support programs.

Here is the truth. You are taking a risk either way, whether you step in or let it be. I had one client this past October stressing concerns about her 13-year-old freshman in high school. She found out his locker combination had been stolen, but he told his mom that nothing was going on. As she watched him become more and more anxious, she took the liberty of contacting his school counselor to try and get him to talk with her. Little did she know, but that was a big mistake. The counselor approached him in the middle of class, asking him to step out of class and meet with her. He was so embarrassed! And for good reason, right? He and his mom ended up having a conversation about it and he revealed that he was really upset with her for meddling in his business. He told her, “Look, if I wanted your help I would have asked.” Mom felt completely lost but did communicate to me that she was glad she did something regardless.

Another client noticed that her daughter was constantly getting upset when she was on her phone. After mom started asking questions, she found out that her daughter was feeling left out and rumors were being spread about her. Mom insisted the girl take a detox from her cell phone for a few weeks and it helped! The young girl was happier again and she was beginning to gain her self confidence back.

At the end of the day, remember that you raised a well-mannered and polite teenager, so trust that you are making the right decisions and take a step back unless you notice warning signs!

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How to handle drama in middle school


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  • Certificate: Certificate of Attendance guaranteed for participants who attend at least 80% of the course.
  • Lessons: Upon the decision of the course provider, classes take place in the Morning (9:00 – 14:00) or in the Afternoon (14:00 – 19:00).
  • Standard Price: 540 €
  • Early Bird: 480 € if you register at least 8 weeks before the course starts, and pay within payment deadlines


The Framework for Key Competences defines the 8 key competencies that students should acquire through schooling. Some of them are crucial in our societies but, also, quite difficult to teach: personal and social competencies; civic competence; cultural awareness, and expression.

Although educators know the importance of these competencies for a young person’s growth, they often encounter difficulties when it comes to actually teaching them to pupils.

Theater in education can be considered one of the few subjects that teach a child how to participate in democratic life. Acting allows the child to develop feelings of empathy and respect towards other members of the community; it also allows for self-observation and affective and cognitive understanding of problems. For this reason, theatrical education and dramatic activity should play an important role in the child’s educational path.

Creative drama is a form of theater suitable for children ages 9 to 13.

From the age of 9, children develop their identity and express feelings more through interaction with peers than with adults. Furthermore, they start to discover their own body and voice as expressive and creative tools. The adult’s task is to help the child in this search, and creative drama can be a useful tool.

In creative drama, it is the process that matters, not the result. Its main aim is to teach the child to act in a group, respecting the opinions of the other members, resolving conflicts following the values of inclusion, tolerance, and solidarity. In addition, creative drama teaches students to improvise, connect with their creative spirit, and create characters and short stories.

During this course, participants will acquire the theoretical and practical tools of creative drama, and the game itself will be the vehicle through which the participant will acquire these tools.

They will learn a series of playful activities with the aim of creating a sense of trust and disinhibition within a group, developing the ability to collaborate with others, stimulating self-expression and communication, and encouraging creativity through imagination.

They will carry out playful activities, acquire the tools to build a character and organize a story, set up and perform drama and improvisation pieces.

By the end of the course, participants will have acquired a wide set of theatrical tools through first-hand experience, which they will be able to replicate in their classes. Thus, they will feel more prepared and confident to sustain their pupils’ development of personal, social, and civic competencies through fun, experiential learning.

Download the complete course description!

Learning outcomes

Participants to the course will learn to:

  • Design and supervise drama games;
  • Resolve conflicts and encourage participation and cooperation in your class;
  • Manage and reduce inequalities through play;
  • Promote the values of inclusion, tolerance, and solidarity among your pupils;
  • Introduce play as an expressive tool that enhances spontaneous creativity;
  • Teach how to build a character and how to organize a story;
  • Use games to stimulate your pupils’ capacities of self-expression and self-awareness.

Tentative schedule

Day 1 – Course introduction

  • Introduction to the course, the school, and the external week activities;
  • Icebreaker activities and warm-up games;
  • Games to present and introduce oneself;
  • Relaxing games;
  • Presentations of the participants’ schools.

Day 2 – Different types of games

  • Warm-up games;
  • Uninhibited and contact games;
  • Symbolic games, collective creation games;
  • Imitation games, pantomime games, games with objects and disguises;
  • Relaxing games.

Day 3 – Different types of games 2

  • Warm-up games;
  • Vocal games;
  • Character games;
  • Storytelling games;
  • Relaxing games.

Day 4 – Creating the scene

  • Choosing the title of the dramatic game;
  • Choosing characters and scenography;
  • Creating the scene;
  • Relaxing games.

Day 5 – Creative drama

  • Warm-up games;
  • Preparatory activity for creative drama;
  • Creative drama;
  • Relaxing games.

Day 6 – Course closure

  • Course evaluation: round-up of acquired competencies, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;
  • Excursion and other external cultural activities.

Please note:

The schedule describes likely activities but may differ significantly based on the trainer delivering the specific session and the requests of the participants.

If you would like to discuss a specific topic, please indicate it at least 4 weeks in advance. Course modifications are subject to the trainer’s discretion.

The trainer will send you the definitive course schedule approximately two weeks before the course.

The number and schedule of the cultural activities depend on the location, not the course; further information is available on each location webpage.

How to handle drama in middle school

Did you hear what Sophie said to Jenna about what Claire told Megan after school today?

Or, did you hear that Hailey is not going to play with Gina because of what she told Lindsey about liking Patrick?

Well, your daughter probably did.

And, chances are, she’s just as confused as you are.

It’s sad to say, but social drama starts early. Without warning, there are cliques, friendship groups, unwritten rule and expectations about who-can-say-what-to-whom.

As a parent, you have a right to be concerned. Sometimes these groups end up bullying children or making certain kids feel left out.

Entering the world of school-age-friendship drama can be a complicated task for parents. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you work together with your child to navigate through their social world.

Helping your child through friendship drama

  • Listen: This means, undivided attention given to your child without a response. Give visual cues that you are listening, such as nodding your head or looking confused. Use verbal phrases such as, “hmmm…” or “I see…” or “Wow!”
  • Ask questions: These questions are open-ended, exploratory questions that will help you learn more about the situation. “How did you feel when she said that?” or “What happened next?” or “What were you hoping would happen?”
  • Empathize:Find an emotion or a way to let your child know that you are listening. “That must have felt horrible!” or “I can’t believe you were able to stay in class after that happened!” or “How sad that your best friend would say that.”
  • Ask how you can help: Rather than jumping in with a suggestion or picking up the phone to “fix it,” ask your child what they need from you. For example, “Do you want to hear what I think?” or “Do you need help coming up with a solution?”
  • Brainstorm together: If your child wants to find a solution, work towards an answer together, rather than forcing her to do what you think is best. Role play different scenarios and help your child find one that she feels comfortable trying.
  • Keep the conversation open: Friendships change rapidly, your child is going to need to talk often. Encourage open communication in the future by ending the conversation with, “If you ever want to talk more about this, I’m here for you.”
  • Talk regularly about friendships: Find ways to use books, TV shows or examples from your own life to talk about how to be a good friend, how to stand up for victims of bullying or how to be confident when faced with peer pressure.
  • Fix the problem yourself: It may seem easier to jump in and solve the problem for your child. However, your solution may make things worse. Encourage your child to brainstorm, role play and eventually handle the problem herself.
  • Force your child to stay with or change friends: Talk about the pro’s and con’s of remaining with a certain group of friends. Review qualities of healthy, good friendships. This is a great learning opportunity for your child.
  • Assume your child is the victim: Your child may appear to be the one being picked on, but there may be more to the story. Use role play to help your child tell you the rest of the story, “Ok, what did Jaden do after you took the pencil…”
  • Ignore hurtful comments: If your child reports something hurtful, don’t brushing it aside or tell them that it is “nothing.” You don’t have to dwell on it, but emphasize with them, and then turn the conversation to something positive about your child.
  • Allow bullying: If you know or suspect that your child or their group of friends is acting in a way that is bullying other students, speak up. Talk with your child about bullying and explore how the other children may feel; encourage them to make amends.

You may never be able to keep up with who likes Patrick now or understand why Lindsey gave Claire a dirty look in gym class, and that’s ok.

The important thing is that your daughter knows she can count on you to help her navigate and feel confident in the midst of the ever-changing friendship drama.

For more information about how to bully proof your daughter, I highly recommend the book: Little Girls Can Be Mean, by Michelle Anthony


About Nicole Schwarz

Welcome! I am an imperfect mom to 3 girls and a Parent Coach with a License in Family Therapy. My goal is to help you feel less angry, manage anxiety, talk to your kids with empathy, and learn to discipline without punishment. If you are frustrated, stuck or unsure how to make changes in your parenting, I provide online Parent Coaching sessions in the US and internationally.

Comments have been turned off to retain the privacy of all families. If you have a question or comment on the topic, you’re always welcome to contact me or send me an email.

Imperfect Families Mission

To authentically connect parents to themselves and their families for a healthier home.

Meet Nicole Schwarz

How to handle drama in middle school

Founder of Imperfect Families, Imperfect mom to 3 girls and a Parent Coach with a License in Family Therapy.
Author of “It Starts With You.”

How to handle drama in middle school

Parents of 9 to 12 year-old girls know “Tween Girl Drama” even if they cannot define it. They see it in the struggles their daughters have negotiating friendships, their changing bodies, and their growing desire for independence. They experience it in the moodiness and seeming over-reactions to the littlest of things. Here are 7 tips for supporting your daughter (or even your son) as she navigates these challenging years:

  1. Talk to Her. And really listen to what she says. If she is upset about something, empathize and help her make sense of the situation. Rather than rushing to give advice, help her develop the confidence in her ability to figure things out for herself. Hint – That time at night after the lights are out but just before she falls asleep may be when she is most willing to open up to you.
  2. Be sure she is getting enough sleep. It feels grown-up to stay up late, but lack of sleep will make it harder for her concentrate the next day, make her more on edge and make it more difficult for her to cope with challenging situations.
  3. Nurture her passions. What does she like to do? What is she good at? Help her develop her own interests, not just those that other girls think are “cool”. This will not only develop her self-esteem and confidence, but give her a safe haven when she needs it.
  4. Set Boundaries with Technology. From addictive computer games to texting her friends at all hours of the day and night, to even deciding when and what kind of access to technology makes sense, she needs your help to make good decisions, disconnect and to protect herself online. You may not be able to stop her from receiving hateful messages, but you can limit the likelihood that she’ll read them alone and late at night. And that starts with when and what
  5. Don’t take it personally. If she hasn’t said it yet, she will – “You Just don’t understand!” This isn’t really about you. In fact, most of what she says isn’t about you; it’s her hormones and emotions, her fears and insecurities, and her need to develop her own identity separate from you. Take a deep breath, stay calm and model the self-control that you want to see in her someday.
  6. Know When to Step In. Sometimes kids are mean, and many times there are hurt feelings and tears. While you cannot and should not step in every time, you need to pay attention, and when things are getting out of control, inappropriate, or dangerous, then you need to take action. Talk to your daughter about what you are going to do and why you need to do so at that moment.
  7. Be there. Throughout these years and into the teenage years, the most important thing you can do is to be there for her, through the ups and the downs, and make sure she knows you support her completely and love her unconditionally.

Ann Luban, MSW, MAJCS is the JCFS Community Services Program Specialist. She is facilitating BeTween: The Jewish Tween Girls Planning Initiative, made possible through funding from the Jewish Women’s Foundation.

From ‘Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years’ by David Farmer.

Dramatic activity is already a natural part of most children’s lives before they start school in the form of make-believe play, enabling them to make sense of their own identity by exploring meaningful fictional situations that have parallels in the real world. This can be utilised at school through structured play and drama to encourage pupils to learn actively and interactively throughout the primary years and across the curriculum.

Children like to move and to interact with others. In drama we ask them to do exactly this. Rather than sitting still and listening they are encouraged to move, speak and respond to one another. Students who are challenged by reading and writing (including those with English as a second language) often respond more positively to the imaginative and multi-sensory learning offered by drama. This in turn helps them develop such skills as creativity, enquiry, communication, empathy, self confidence, cooperation, leadership and negotiation. Most importantly, drama activities are fun – making learning both enjoyable and memorable.

​Drama is ideal for cross-curricular learning and is a valuable tool for use in many subject areas. This is explored further in Drama Across the Curriculum and through the use of Drama Strategies. In particular, drama develops literacy skills – supporting speaking and listening, extending vocabulary and encouraging pupils to understand and express different points of view. Dramatic activity motivates children to write for a range of purposes.

Drama gives children opportunities to explore, discuss and deal with difficult issues and express their emotions in a supportive environment. It enables them to explore their own cultural values and those of others, past and present. It encourages them to think and act creatively, thus developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied in all areas of learning. Through drama, children are encouraged to take responsible roles and make choices – to participate in and guide their own learning. Teachers can take a more open-ended approach, concentrating on the process of learning at least as much as – if not more than – the product.



Drama curriculum for middle school should take into account the rapid developmental changes that students experience during grades six, seven and eight. During these years, students may be less self-confident and more conformist than they were in elementary school, but they also are more capable of critical thinking and empathy. Teaching drama at this age can help draw out and define students’ individuality, boost their confidence and improve their communication skills while taking advantage of their emerging maturity.

Explore this article

  • Skills Learned Through Drama Curriculum
  • Sixth Grade: Learning to Use the Body
  • Seventh Grade: Developing the Voice
  • Eighth Grade: Incorporating Thought and Emotion

1 Skills Learned Through Drama Curriculum

Drama teaches skills that apply not only to other academic disciplines, but also to future employment and life in general. A dramatic monologue presented to the class teaches a student to read and memorize a text and to understand it thoroughly so he can interpret it with his body, voice and emotions. Through acting out a role in a play, a student learns to work closely with a group and to take responsibility for his part. Theater games teach students myriad interpersonal and critical skills, such as paying better attention to others and delivering narratives.

2 Sixth Grade: Learning to Use the Body

The youngest middle school students can be taught through theater games, pantomime and role play how to use their bodies — and to be comfortable using them — in a dramatic context. Child, the home page of playwright, composer and educator Matt Buchanan, suggests a game in which students are paired and one makes a statue of the other — posing his partner’s body while the partner “freezes” in position. This activity teaches both students how to cooperate and to think creatively. Another common partner game involves the students facing one another, with one acting as a mirror to the other, imitating his movements as closely as possible. The familiar game of charades develops students’ ability to communicate using only their bodies and facial expressions.

3 Seventh Grade: Developing the Voice

Once students are more at ease using their bodies to communicate, they can begin to develop their dramatic voices through techniques such as storytelling and monologues, word games and tongue twisters. You can use puppets and masks to encourage students to play with different kinds of voices. These tools help students develop narratives, both written and spoken, and pay attention to the importance of voice as they create dialogue. Seventh-graders can begin learning the elements of stagecraft, the technical aspects of theater.

4 Eighth Grade: Incorporating Thought and Emotion

By eighth grade, students are more able to empathize with others and think critically, so they are ready for a more mature approach to dramatic study. Eighth-graders can learn improvisation as a technique in connecting the mind, body and emotion, taking what was learned in sixth and seventh grades to another level. One improv activity asks the class to compile a list of the many ways humans can move, such as walking, running or skipping. Assign each student one of these movements and then ask each student to vary the way she carries it out; for example, make it bigger, faster, heavier or more relaxed. Discuss with students how the changes in movement express changes in emotion, both as felt by the student moving and by those observing. Students will see that the way they control their bodies creates an effect.

Drama In The Lower School

At the Lower School, drama is integrated into the general curriculum. All students in grades 1-3 perform classroom plays at the end of each year. Nursery, Pre-K, and K, too, have opportunities for dramatic expression, from acting out nursery rhymes to doing skits and plays for parents.

The end-of-year plays are a highly effective way to integrate learning in reading, writing, and history, as they tie in with the Lower School’s commitment to thematic learning.

Lower School Assistant Principal, Ginger Fifer believes that the benefits of students producing and acting in plays each year are endless and revolve around the teachers’ steadfast commitment to deepening students’ self-esteem.

Drama In The Middle School

On our FCS mainstage, we produce a musical in the fall, and the students’ original plays every spring. During the entire season, the students can work behind the scenes, student direct, or stage manage. They can join our fabulous stage crew to learn to create with lights, sound, tech, and set construction. Rehearsals are held two-three days after school from 3:15-5:15 pm, giving every student a time to make new friends and celebrate their talents.

Drama In The Upper School

The Friends’ Central Upper School drama program is dedicated to bringing a variety of theatrical offerings to our students and to the community at large. Focusing on the power of the ensemble, students experiment with performing Greek drama, Shakespeare, and comic improvisation, as well as work by contemporary writers like Anna Deavere Smith. On our “main stage,” two productions are offered each year. In the winter, productions alternate between musical theater productions and the works of Shakespeare with a play offered every fall. Each year, a senior is chosen to direct our 9th and 10th grade play in the spring. This production offers younger students a third performance opportunity and a chance for a senior to experience producing and directing a play or musical. Friends’ Central School is honored to offer all theater and concert performances free of charge so the entire community may benefit from the wealth of student talent and creativity.

For information on drama in the academic curriculum visit our Upper School curriculum pages.

Irvington Community Schools / News / Middle School Drama Is Not Always What You Think…

The ICMS Drama Club may seem like a superfluous group considering so many kids that age are already experts in being dramatic – if not melodramatic. However, the middle school’s band of performers serves a valuable purpose both for those who participate and for the greater school community. For the members, the club provides a place to be themselves and simultaneously be someone else. It’s an opportunity to create something that matters greatly to them outside of schoolwork. For everyone else, it’s fun to see how creative the club can be.How to handle drama in middle school

ICMS Student Services Representative Lyndsey Mundell rekindled the club during the 2015-2016 school year. She explains, “I searched for a way to connect with students outside of the classroom. Having very little idea of what to expect, I naively planned to gather and play casual improvisational games. Although I thought I was in charge, the kids were really steering the ship. They requested that we put on a play, and I agreed despite my minimal experience.” The inaugural play performed by the Drama Club was “The Bottom of the Lake.”How to handle drama in middle school

As Mrs. Mundell recalls, the first year was a learning experience. Tryouts were not held. Students simply joined with few expectations. “Lesson learned,” says the Drama Club sponsor.
“Now there is a process to ensure that any student who joins is committed to memorizing lines, showing up to practices, and putting in the required effort.”How to handle drama in middle school

The next play put on by the young thespians was called “10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse,” which received rave reviews. This was followed by another, the club’s most recent work, a dramedy entitled, “Oz.”

Mrs. Mundell and the club have greatly appreciated the helping hands offered by ICMS staff.
She notes that Mrs. Burgess “jumped in” when asked to co-sponsor the club. Mrs. Batista created promotional flyers, and ICES Counselor Marsha Hart volunteered often, assisting whenever and wherever needed. Moreover, parents donated time and, as Mrs. Mundell emphasizes, “more importantly, pizza,” to the cause.

Mrs. Mundell notes that “this school year is bittersweet, as some of our longtime members will be heading to high school next year. While I am sad to see the original crew move on, I’m also very proud of them. I feel lucky to have been a positive part of their middle school days, which we all know can be a rough time. The club has brought them joy, which has been infectious to those around them.”

The Drama Club has clearly evolved since its early days. “It’s so much better,” says Mrs. Mundell. “Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this, as the kids are the heart and soul of the gig!” She continues, “Not only have we come to understand how to logistically put on a production, but they have grown through hard work and collaboration.” She calls the result of all the students’ hard work and dedication a “big impact.” Judging from comments from some of the club members, a big impact indeed:

“Drama club has been a fun way to connect with people from other grades. We have just as much fun putting on the plays as everyone else has watching them. We’re all just like one big family.” — Jasmyn Benjamin, 8th grade

“Through Drama Club, I’ve made a lot of friends and learned to step outside of the box and take on different personalities for different roles.” — Erikka Moore

“Drama Club has been a way to boost my confidence. Rehearsing my lines in front of a lot of people helps me with public speaking. It’s also a way to branch out and talk to new people.” — Jordan Clark, 8th grade

“Drama Club is an interactive way to show teamwork and leadership skills through doing something we love. It boosts confidence while improving responsibility and involvement. I love Drama Club!” — Erin Haberman, 8th grade

“I joined Drama Club to make friends and get over my nervousness. I feel like I have definitely met that goal.” — Harrison Pryor, 6th grade

“I have been an active member of the drama club for three years now, and it has truly been an unforgettable experience. It has helped me through trying times when I thought I was alone. I realized I had other people counting on me who cared.” — Sam Welch, 8th grade

In pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, dramatic play and appropriate dramatic activities are a part of the daily curriculum. Students in 4th through 8th grades take drama as a separate course. The main goals of the drama program are to allow the students to develop a sense of themselves as creative and expressive individuals with responsibilities to a larger community, to be comfortable with risk-taking, to learn movement and drama skills, and to develop critical and creative thinking skills. Over the course of their stay in the Lower/Middle School, students enjoy a variety of dramatic performing opportunities.

Revived after many years, the Middle School Fall Musical offers interested middle schoolers an after-school immersion in musical theater. Auditions are held and crews recruited, and rehearsal begin shortly after school opens in September in anticipation of performances in November.

High School

The vibrant and innovative performing arts program is central to the life of the High School. The department puts up three theatrical seasons each year: a fall drama, student-directed one acts in the winter, and a spring musical. Students also perform in numerous concerts, short plays, recitals, and showcases throughout the year. An improvisation-acting troupe and an award-winning dance company provide additional opportunities for GDS performing artists.

The High School enjoys a unique performing arts facility, including dance and acting studios, choral and instrumental rooms complete with a recording center, practice rooms, and a MIDI lab. The theater itself is a large black box with a sophisticated technical infrastructure, comparable to those in many professional houses.

Unusual at the high school level, the theater program is constructed on a guild system. All shows are designed and built by students under the supervision of a full-time technical director. Students also produce and manage all shows, learning not only the business of the art, but also the art of the business.

How to handle drama in middle school

COLONIE — Take a trip Into the Woods this weekend with the Lisha Kill Middle School Drama Club.

The show runs from tonight, Friday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Lisha Kill Middle School auditorium.

The musical, written by Stephen Sondheim, based on a book by James Lapine, intertwines the plots of a number of Brothers Grimm fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. A constant throughout the different scenes is a baker and his wife who are trying to start a family. It debuted in San Diego in 1987.

In the Lisha Kill production, Adrianna Pape plays Cinderella, Robbie Greco plays Jack, Ryan Coffey plays Milky-White, Liam Simpson plays the baker and Audrey Oberg plays the baker’s wife.

Other members of the cast feature Ameilia Sapienza as the stepmother, Vanessa Long as Florinda, Sadie Pugsley as Lucinda, Abigail Fiadjoe as Little Red Ridinghood, Abby Santspree as Jack’s mother, Emma Overly as the witch, Brian Nivins as Cinderella’s father, Christina Shamounian as Cinderella’s father, Amal Nasir as the mysterious man, Anthony Petramale as the wolf, Emma Mayhew as Rapunzel, Zachary Rowe as Rapunzel’s prince, Allison Babarczy as granny, Kai Poon as Cinderella’s prince and Alexa Rivett as the steward.

It is directed by Christine Meglino. The musical director is Michelle Cenci, set construction is by Abbie Pickett and costume design is by Maura Pickett. Sound design is by Brandon Malowski, lighting design is by Aram Taleporos, the crew coordinator is Samantha Becker and Linda Kennedy is the ticket coordinator.

Click a photo below to view a slideshow of the rest or click here if using a news app.

I recently asked my middle school students to share their social concerns by writing thoughts on index cards that they dropped in a shoe box. Some were predictable — uneasiness about friends elbowing them to the side or annoyance that classmates can’t keep secrets. In one less typical response, a student complained that boys were blaming inappropriate behavior on an “undeveloped prefrontal cortex.”

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A few wanted practical tips on how to ask for space from clingy friends, or the best way to deliver snappy comebacks when they’re insulted. One wrote, “I feel judged and ignored,” a statement that perfectly sums up the paradox that is middle school.

As a school counselor and mother, I know middle school students are complicated. They can be simultaneously self-conscious and exhibitionist, walled off and confessional, risk-taking and cautious. They can be intensely concerned about social justice issues, but act mean toward each other. They will project entirely different personas depending on their audience. They want their parents and teachers to back off, except for when they don’t.

No one is getting out unscathed, but parents can help kids minimize social drama as they navigate middle school. Here are five strategies that will help:

Turn down the volume on drama. Some kids get an adrenaline rush from playing a central role in middle school soap operas, and it can be difficult to convince them that disengaging is the best long-term strategy. Be concrete and give examples, such as telling them not to forward risqué videos or photos that friends can post on apps such as or Instagram. If someone sends them baiting texts, urge them to block numbers rather than respond with zingers. If they share details about friendship conflicts, help them identify and engage solely with the core players. Encourage them to be careful when interacting with people who crave chaos, or gossipy friends who don’t mind stirring the pot.

When kids insist on digging themselves into a deeper hole, it can be hard to wrench away the shovel. Some only learn from painful mistakes, and that has its merits too. We are hard-wired to remember negative experiences, and odds are their missteps will be seared into their memory.

Assume positive intent. Kids can be insensitive, but they generally are not intentionally cruel. All children benefit when the default assumption is goodwill. To create a culture of trust, teach children how to assess situations from multiple angles, factoring in others’ point of view and state of mind. Maybe a friend didn’t include them in weekend plans, but only because she wanted one-on-one time with a new classmate. Perhaps someone was left untagged in a group photo someone posted online, but the snub was unintentional. When kids perceive malice, their anger and hurt get in the way of conflict resolution. There will be times when classmates are purposely mean, but if they give each other the benefit of the doubt, everyone will be more inclined to be kind.

But know when to let go. Some friendships will run their course. As parents, it’s painful to see children reeling when they are left in the dust. Adults bring their own middle school memories to the table and may struggle to stay calm and neutral. It’s important to avoid over-identifying with the child’s struggle. Parenting expert Annie Fox, author of “The Girls’ Q & A Book on Friendship,” suggests that parents explain to children that they can’t control a friend’s behavior or feelings, but they can get a handle on their own. Parents can review kids’ options, from acting like it didn’t bother them to finding new friends, and then help them evaluate their choices. Fox notes on her blog, “by offering support without rushing to fix the problem, kids’ thinking process will be accelerated, and hopefully they will move closer to a time when they no longer tolerate disrespectful behavior from any friend or so-called friend.” Even in extreme cases, it can be difficult for kids to walk away from unhealthy relationships. Maybe their friends belittle them or pressure them to engage in behaviors that violate their values, such as skipping class or sexting. Try posing questions that encourage insight: What advice would they give to a friend in the same situation? Visual imagery also can help. For example, invite them on an imaginary hot air balloon ride. From this new vantage point, can they see the problem more clearly? Can they identify possible solutions?

Find the humor and stay optimistic. Maybe a student is the shortest boy in his grade, or the slowest runner. Maybe a girl feels like she is the last one to hit puberty, or worse, the first. Perhaps a boy is teased for having a “little kid” bedroom, or for giving long-winded answers in class, or because he has overprotective parents. The onslaught of sometimes absurd middle school challenges can make it hard to find the humor or feel optimistic, but both will boost kids’ resilience.

How to handle drama in middle school

A personal story of a teen…

For quite a while all my friendships were roller coaster rides. One day, we would be supporting each others poor decisions, immaturity, irresponsibility and we were attached at the hip sending constant play-by-play texts through the school day.

The next day, we’d by dragging each other down with a full emotional outburst, complete with nasty suspicions and unfounded accusations. Then came the dramatic reconciliation of best buds, only to be short lived.

It didn’t just happen with my friends, but also the people I dated. All along believing how crappy people are and how much bad luck I had.

For a long time, I mourned all the bad relationships I’d been in, as if I was some kind of victim who always got the short end of the stick. Then one day, I realized that there was a reason I always found myself in the middle of drama: I was attracted to drama like a moth to a flame. Chaos was the normal for the majority of my life and when it wasn’t there, I felt I couldn’t trust what was going on in my life. Life was “fake” without my drama and if it wasn’t with others, I would just struggle with myself.

It was so much easier to blame the world than to see that I needed to change. Do you turn small issues into major problems too and would love to stop feeling so overwhelmed?

Recognize when you might be creating drama.

If there’s drama in multiple areas of your life, be honest with yourself – you’re the constant player. Are you creating it? Feeding it? We don’t do anything repeatedly unless there’s something in it for us, so, what’s the payoff? Think deep, it’s not always on the surface.

  1. Are you looking for attention or excitement? Sometimes we feel good when people vent to us, share gossip, chose you over someone else to hangout with.
  2. Did you grow up with drama and you just plain don’t feel “normal” when you’re not in the middle of it?
  3. A feeling of boredom hits you if you don’t have drama and struggles in your life.

Now come up with solutions. There are positive ways to get attention or excitement. Can you explore other ways to add adventures in your life so that you’re not sitting around in the middle of drama or looking for it? Usually, if we keep ourselves busy with self improvements or hobbies, exploring interests or working, drama becomes way too much work.

Change your perspective.

Be happy about little things, let the big stuff go because I can’t change it anyway.

A lot of the drama takes place in our own heads, and it’s usually because we’re too deeply immersed in a difficult situation to recognize it isn’t as dire as it seems. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by a situation, step back and realize this feeling isn’t permanent…nothing is! Then focus on action steps…on the things that you CAN control. What can you do to create a solution and change the situation?

How to handle drama in middle school

Don’t feed into other people’s drama either.

  • Build a reputation for not participating in drama
  • Don’t add any negative or positive focus on it.
  • Remove emotion, and learn to use your logic.
  • Speak less, listen more.
  • You have time to hear and see the drama and sidestep it.
  • Be an observer. Not everything needs a reaction.

If someone repeatedly comes to you with catastrophes, give yourself a window of time when you’ll just listen, and then take care of yourself by walking away without getting involved. Also, resist the urge to jump into a pity party. You’ll be helping your friend too. Often people calm themselves down when other’s don’t join into the complaints and drama. Lastly, your calm energy may even help them learn to let it go.

Reconsider unhealthy relationships.

  • Minimize dramatic people in your life.
  • Become friends with people who have positive energy that doesn’t promote or create drama.
  • Realize that spending time by yourself is always preferable to spending time with someone who wants drama. Nothing wrong wit a dull day.
  • Remove the source of drama from your life. It really is that simple.

Take an inventory of which people in your life leaving you feeling stressed and unhappy more often then not. If you don’t want o completely remove a toxic relationship, then minimize the time you spend with them. If you don’t want to change how often you see each other, recognize drama triggers. When the conversation moves toward her horrible mother, steer it somewhere else.

Be clean and straight with other people.

  • Be as open and honest and communicative as possible. Listen without reacting.
  • If you have an issue with someone, go straight to them to talk about it. Don’t talk to anyone else about it if they aren’t involved.
  • Drama comes about because of either misunderstanding or overreaction. Be as honest and open in all cases as possible.

A lot of drama comes from poor communication and confusion. Eliminate it by finding the courage to say exactly what you mean. It may be harder in the moment, but it can save a lot of heartache in the long run. Return the favor by being willing to let others come talk openly with you and not flip out just because it’s not something you like.

Be slow to label something as “drama”.

Sometimes what we’re labeling as drama is just someone who really needs us. Focus on being there and being a friend in the moment. It takes practice to tell the difference between someone who is venting and someone who just wants to bring other’s into the drama.

Learn from drama.

  • Look for the lesson, not the feeling.
  • Is there something you can learn?
  • Then move on.

Sometimes it seems like drama happens to us and we’re powerless to remove ourselves. Another perspective is that every time we find ourselves immersed in something that seems overwhelming, we have an opportunity to learn how to deal with challenges better.

Life will always involve mini fires that we feel desperate to put out. If we can learn not to fan them into a raging forest fire, then may actually be able to light our way in life.

How to handle drama in middle schoolA friend once told me that the two hardest parts of a woman’s life is enduring middle school herself and then mothering a daughter through middle school.

Middle School Moms

As my daughter experienced being left out of new cliques with friends since birth and “mean girl” drama, I was shocked with what happened among my peers. Despite promises to the contrary, my mom “tribe” were unwilling to intervene.

How to handle drama in middle school

Being blindsided by this was nearly my undoing. One of the hardest lessons I learned was that when it came down to it, the lure of popularity can trip up moms and middle school kids alike.

Rallying Help to Coach Our Daughters

When it came to overt bullying, lines in the sand were upheld. However, when it came to kicking a girl out of a group text, refusing to let someone into a small group, or gossiping about a friend within earshot of the mom, I could only expect these behaviors to be met by silence. I initiated several one-on-one conversations with my friends about helping our girls walk through these new seasons, to no avail.

I absolutely affirm the sanctity of mothering; it is tender ground to approach. Unfortunately, I realized the hard way that a middle school girl can tend to lurk within all of us, handicapping our ability to work through hard things together in authentic and loving ways.

Don’t Be Surprised

I tell my kids that no experience is wasted if there’s a lesson learned, so here’s my first lesson learned in the difficult terrain of middle school mothering: This is a tenuous and sometimes lonely mom season. Our culture includes over information, comparison, and a high expectation for success. In real time, we see things happening without us.

Let’s not be surprised when these pitfalls cause others to react in their own ways that may not match our response. We do well to lead with grace and brace ourselves for varying and unexpected responses even from friends we’ve had for years.

Control What You Can

My mom used to tell me that I can’t expect others to act like I would. The reality is that everyone is acting from their own context, and what seems obvious to me may not be to others. Together, despite the wounds, my daughter and I learned to control what we could, such as technology use and releasing our expectations of others. Adjusting expectations is one of the hardest emotional tasks in life, though it brings freedom on the other side of it.

Invest Wisely

I literally cried happy tears when I knew we’d turned a corner. After two years of being uninvited, my daughter was asked to a gathering and pressed herself to go. When she got home, she told me that when drama unfolded, she told the victim of the gossip not to worry, and to instead invest more deeply in healthy relationships rather than toxic ones. My preteen wrapped the story by saying, “Mom, I’d rather be home and lonely than be busy in friendships where it may be unpredictable.” Out of the mouth of babes.

Live at Peace

My kids often recall me referring to Romans 12:18 from the Bible, encouraging them to be at peace with all people. I would tell my kids to own their mistakes, seek reconciliation, and then proceed peacefully with others, though it may be more cautiously and possibly with lower expectations.

Stay Close

One of the best ways to mother in the middle school years is simply to stay close. Yes, peers are the primary influence in the preteen and teen years, but just staying accessible is a gift we give our kids. Driving the carpools, being at the activities, standing on the sidelines, and having family dinners are some of the ways to stay close to middle schoolers, even when they are more closed off emotionally.

Past the eye rolling, on the other side of the silent treatment, our steadfast presence will be what they remember most. Years down the road, when middle school angst can become the stuff of jokes, our kids will recall how dependable and available we were, whether we could fix it all or not.

Friendships are sometimes for just a season, but family is lifelong. No matter how brutal some stages may be, all of them can be places where we and our children can glean important life skills and learn that we can, indeed, do hard things.

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Teen Voices: Dealing with Digital Drama

Students hear what other teens have to say about meeting and talking to known and unknown people online, think about the types of information they’re sharing about themselves, and consider strategies to keep their online friendships safe and positive.

See the related Digital Citizenship lesson.

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    How to handle drama in middle school

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    When we grew up, bullies were sometimes known to torment kids on the bus, steal lunches, pull girls’ hair during gym class or gossip behind our backs. Back then, teachers may have seen it happen and could intervene.

    “Today, adolescents are actually seeing it in writing on the internet for all their peers to see, too,” says Tira Stebbins, a clinical psychologist in Solon.

    “One of the most common behaviors I see is when students post pictures from parties to intentionally hurt the feelings of students who were not invited,” says Jennifer Bencko, school psychologist at Chagrin Falls Middle School. “This impacts victims even more because they feel so vulnerable.”

    Tweens are very focused on peer acceptance and are fixated on feeling like they belong. says Kelly Stukus, mother of two and curriculum consultant.

    So what’s a parent to do when they see their child feeling down, struggling with “mean behavior” from their peers? It’s impossible to shield your child completely and while we would prefer it never happens at all, learning to persevere through such situations and to live amidst people like these are actually important parts of growing up.

    Raise a Kind, Confident, Independent Thinker
    Preparing your child to withstand this sort of behavior — or to not become the bully themselves — actually starts very early on in their lives. It is paramount that you practice what you preach and continue to do so as your children transform into teens.

    Raise your children to understand the impact they have on others and to believe in themselves. “Help them learn to discover their inner self and teach them to stand up for that,” says Michelle Koehler, a mom of four children ages 18, 16, 14 and 11.

    Monitor Social Media
    Parents who are oblivious to what is going on online often are blind-sided by bad situations. While you can’t possibly see every Snapchat or Facebook post or know everything they are reading or seeing, it is important to observe and limit social media use as best as you can.

    “Follow your child on social media, keep the lines of communication open and watch for behavioral changes in your children,” Bencko says.

    Phone use by tweens should not be unsupervised. For those just starting out with tweens, Stebbins suggests that parents create a sort of contract when they first give their child their own phone. Lay out your expectations specifically. Ensure that your child understands that the phone belongs to you, the parent, and that you are giving them the opportunity to borrow it. That way, if it is misused, you have an easier way to take it away from them.

    Listen Without being Critical
    What about if your child already has experienced an incident and is feeling emotional and vulnerable? Stebbins recommends doing lots of listening.

    Let your child vent and then offer confirmation of their feelings. Be careful not to be too critical.

    “As parents, we want to swoop in and solve the problem,” Stebbins says. “It’s usually best to think of yourself as a coach, to problem solve together and collaborate on ideas.”

    Talk to them about which friends make them feel good and contribute to their happiness versus those that make them feel bad. Even consider doing some role playing to help them find the words to address the situation next time they see the culprit.

    Intervene When Necessary
    If “mean behavior” escalates from a child not including your daughter or son to humiliating them time and time again despite your child’s efforts to ignore it, you may be dealing with full-on “bullying.”

    When you’ve tried everything and the behavior is not stopping or is getting worse, it may be time to intervene. But do be aware that you run the risk of the situation potentially getting worse before it gets better. Be diligent, but not so much that your child feels as though they’ve lost all their independence. Try to have faith in all the love you’ve given them and the good qualities you’ve instilled in them all along.

    When in doubt, share with your child these very wise words from a bright 12-year-old: “Don’t make yourself into someone else to please someone who is judging you. Make yourself be you, because the friends you love… love that person.”

    How to handle drama in middle schoolB oth beginners and experienced performers can find a place in Lakeside’s drama and technical theater program, where faculty place an emphasis on personal growth through taking creative risks. In classes and in productions, students engage in a feedback-driven process where they learn the importance of experimentation, play, and attention to detail. Our faculty consists of inspiring, expert teachers with deep connections to the Seattle arts community.

    In addition to theater-specific skills and knowledge, students learn life skills in public speaking, interpersonal communication, creative problem-solving, and collaboration, as well as develop social-emotional skills such as empathy, focus, and resilience. In the process, students gain a greater knowledge of themselves, and develop deep relationships with friends and teachers that often continue long after they graduate.

    Middle School: Exploring the art of storytelling

    Drama courses at the Middle School are active, thoughtful, and fun. Students are introduced to a wide variety of theatrical forms and experiences, including multiple types of acting (improvisation, solo performance, Shakespeare, and sketch comedy); design for sets, costumes, props, lighting, and sound; playwriting; and directing. Students are taught to reflect on the qualities of good storytelling, and how stories evolve as they move from a script to a staged production – as well as the important role of a careful observer in giving constructive feedback.

    The faculty creates a safe classroom space where students can take creative risks, and engage in questions about art, identity, and expression.

    Starting in 6th grade, Middle School students choose which performing art they would like to study each year, choosing between yearlong classes in band, choir, drama, or orchestra. Performing arts classes take place four times a week, which gives students a meaningful amount of time to learn and develop new skills. In addition to regular performances related to classwork, the Middle School drama program offers co-curricular productions for which rehearsals take place outside of school hours.

    Learn more about Middle School drama in our Middle School curriculum guide.

    How to handle drama in middle school

    How to handle drama in middle school

    Upper School: A passion for performance

    Lakeside’s Upper School drama program is a welcoming community, where students can connect with others who share their love and passion for performance. We offer four yearlong courses in drama, and students can enter the program in either Drama I or Drama II. Students study acting – including ensemble and solo work, movement and stage combat, dance, and improvisation – playwriting, directing, and dramaturgy (research). Advanced courses include a focus on Shakespeare, character mask and clowning techniques, and participation in ACT Theatre’s Young Playwrights Program (YPP).

    How to handle drama in middle school

    The program also offers four years of theater production, in which students learn to apply a design process to a range of performance projects, from sketching out early design concepts to building sets, creating costumes, lighting and sound design, and special effects.

    The Upper School drama program stages five productions each year. Students participating in drama can choose to play a role on stage as actors, or behind the scenes, as directors, producers, and stage and lighting crew. Productions include a musical, and an evening of one-act plays performed, directed, and often written by Lakeside students. At least two of the five productions have open auditions, meaning that any student – not just those taking a drama class – can try out.

    The program prepares students to participate in drama at the college level, and Lakeside students have gone on to have professional careers in the arts. All students will gain a deeper understanding of theater which supports a lifelong appreciation for the art form.

    Learn more about Upper School drama and technical theater in our Upper School curriculum guide.

    A drama club gives students an outlet for interests that go beyond acting and leads to friendships across grades.

    How to handle drama in middle school

    I began my teaching career in a small school district that had limited options for middle school extracurriculars, but even before the school began I was thinking about starting a drama club. When a student told me on the second day of school that he wanted to be an actor, I knew that at least one student would be interested.

    It took me a couple of months to fine-tune the logistics of the club, and I wondered whether enough students would sign up to put on a production in the spring. Once I had permission to produce a play and felt confident that I could do it, I printed permission slips and put an ad in the morning announcements. Within a day, students had picked up all of the permission slips and I had to print more. Over 80 students joined the club.

    After auditions, I scheduled one rehearsal a week after school. Students who didn’t want to act signed up for the crew—props, costumes, or lights and sound. Directing the actors on stage and delegating tasks to the crew members was a lot of work: I had over 80 students who all needed a job to do. This role demanded a vast amount of time, and I stressed out. I came in over school breaks, and we made props and costumes with recycled materials as we had no funding, but by some miracle, we got the job done.

    What Students Gained From the Drama Club

    Despite the stress, there were real upsides: I was able to build deeper relationships with every cast and crew member. Instead of sitting in a classroom and finding the theme of a text, we were now finding talents my students didn’t even know they possessed. They gave me an insider’s glimpse of their interests.

    It was clear that no one had noticed that some of them had an amazing singing voice, or that they could sew unbelievable costumes, or that they could construct giant wooden props. For a majority of them, the drama club was the reason those talents were fostered, and many students went on to sign up for junior high electives that matched those talents.

    For many middle school students, social life proves to be a challenge. Students begin to form cliques, and many students lack a sense of belonging. The drama club provided a remedy for many students: The 80 participants included athletes, musicians, gamers, cheerleaders, artists, gifted and talented students, and students in resource classes.

    I watched over the course of the year as new friendships flourished among all these different groups. Sixth graders talked about the sleepovers they had planned with fifth-grade peers. Students who had never spoken prior to the club would walk home together after rehearsals. And over the following summer, parents uploaded pictures of the drama club kids at cookouts together. The club that was started with no money created relationships that lasted well beyond the spring production. Students who had once claimed to have no friends now had 80.

    Many of the students who joined the drama club were introverts who, during rehearsals focusing on voice projection, would giggle when I told them to speak from the diaphragm. We began each rehearsal with improvisation games that had an enormous impact on teaching my students to leave all of their inhibitions at the door. They learned to laugh at themselves and to laugh with each other. They learned to be more confident and comfortable with public speaking. Many of these quiet, shy students went on to perform in the school talent show, which would have been too nerve-racking for them previously.

    The benefit of this shift, this increase in comfort with public speaking and performing, was also evident in the classroom as their presentations were greatly improved and group work became easier for them. And new students always found someone to greet them.

    Some Reflections

    Many weeks, I would leave rehearsal thinking that I was in over my head. At times, I told myself there was absolutely no way that I would do it again next year. But at the conclusion of the play, I was a swarm of emotions and realizations: I had overseen the production of all of it, but every piece of the set and every costume was created by students—and it all looked incredible.

    So many of our students need someone to invest in their interests and provide an outlet for them to reach success outside of an academic setting. Although it requires a lot of time and an endless amount of patience, the benefits of an investment like leading a drama club are immense. I was a first-year teacher with absolutely no idea what I was doing, but by the end of the year, many students had formed surprising friendships, introverted students were performing in lead roles, and as a group they produced a show that audience members said was the best they’d ever seen.

    How to handle drama in middle school

    When you were young, did you have a defining moment that helped you realize your worth? What about a moment when you realized you didn’t have to tolerate someone treating you poorly?

    I’ve meant to write about a situation that happened to my daughter in middle school that has shaped how she sees her value. It’s a situation that probably happens daily to kids and having a support system seems to be an effective antidote.

    Sixth grade is the entering grade at our local middle school, and five elementary schools feed into it. My daughter’s best friend — let’s call her Mary — played lots of sports in elementary school, so she knew many more kids who were going to this new school than my daughter, Marcia did.

    And over the first weeks of middle school, Mary became increasingly rude to Marcia.

    At one point, Mary told my daughter that she “shouldn’t be so smart because [she was] making everyone feel dumb.”

    This comment hurt my daughter’s feelings (obviously), and my usually bubbly kid became silent.

    Like lots of parents, I get busy, and I’m not always aware of everything going on around me, but this was a noticeable shift.

    I sat her down over some frozen yogurt to ask how she was feeling. It took a little bit of gentle digging and reassuring her that I love her, but I could see something was bothering her. I know how it feels when someone offers unwanted advice when I just want them to hear me, so I led by offering her the choice of “empathy or strategy.”

    She decided she wanted empathy and proceeded to tell me the story about how this Mean Girl told her not to “be so smart.” I could feel my rage immediately. How DARE this punk kid tell my baby to dumb it down?! As difficult as it was, though, I held that rage in, because this wasn’t about me.

    Marcia knew it didn’t feel right, but she wasn’t sure how to respond.

    I started by validating her confusion. This was supposed to be her BFF, and that’s not how you talk to a friend. It also really sucks when your friend treats you poorly and puts you down.

    Then I tried to offer Marcia something she could think about by asking her this:

    “Do you ask her not to be so athletic because it makes everyone else feel lazy?”

    I wondered aloud how this would impact their friendship.

    Turns out, the rift between them got bigger. Later Marcia shared with me that Mary told her, “Stop following me. You’re annoying.”

    Mary was now tight with the popular kids, and as my daughter tells it:

    “I was left alone for the rest of sixth grade and the beginning of seventh. But I kind of joined different groups, none which I really fit in with. I felt really unwelcome and unaccepted because I never found my group.

    I tried to be in the popular group with Mary, but there were times they pretended I wasn’t there. Then I joined a group who was kind of near The Populars — I guess in the social hierarchy they were one spot down from the popular people — but they also didn’t seem to care if I was there.

    One example was: After picking up my hot lunch in the school cafeteria, I’d go to sit down. There were either no spots available or none of them were saved for me because people were saving seats for other people. I did not feel welcome. So after a couple of days I decided, you know what? That’s not good enough. I am awesome. I am fabulous. And I don’t understand why they won’t make room for me or notice that I’m there.

    So I left to another group. That group was next to my old table, and they looked like they were having a lot of fun. They’d run to the field and actually go have fun. I really wanted to do that and not just stay the lunch table and gossip. I remember one time asking my ‘friends’ in the old group, ‘Do you want to go to the field?’ and they were like, “Nooo, let’s just stay here.’ They weren’t really wearing proper clothes or shoes to run around either and so whatever.

    The first friend group noticed I wasn’t coming around so they asked, ‘Why aren’t you sitting with us anymore?’ I told them, ‘You guys never made room for me.’ They didn’t notice I was there until I wasn’t.”

    Marcia told me about this friend group drama when she was in seventh grade!

    Like an entire year after it had happened!

    I had no idea about the friend group switching. I mean, I noticed she had new friends, but nothing seemed so out of the ordinary. I could see, though, that Marcia’s strong sense of self-worth gave her the confidence to get herself out of those crappy friendships.

    To me, this seems like a transferable skill.

    Eventually, Marcia is going to start dating, whether I like it or not. How does her experience in middle school translate to behavior when she’s older? When I later asked Marcia, she said:

    “If someone tries to put me down I’ll know that I am awesome. It’s not a good use of my time to spend it with people who don’t notice that I’m there or care that I’m there. That will help me in the long run because I’ll be able to choose my friends more wisely.”

    I see this experience as something that, in the future, will keep her from chasing a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t have time for her.

    She knows she can get out of friendships with anyone whose behavior doesn’t show her, “Yes, I want to be friends with you because you’re awesome.”

    I wish I’d had the same guts at her age. Instead, as an adult, I married someone my dad (rest his soul) told me he thought didn’t love me enough. I also dated plenty of guys post-divorce who I shouldn’t have given a minute more of my time.

    If only I could have learned this lesson earlier on like my daughter did.

    The friends Marcia has now are really great kids — and they know she’s awesome.

    When I checked back in with her to see what she learned from that experience in middle school she said:

    “Two years later, I am still with the group I moved to, and I’m still very happy. I made a best friend — the girl that I originally knew the best in that group. We all have common friends; we have common interests, there is so much about us that is alike.

    I realized what I need in a friend and what I need in a friend group. I need them to pay attention to me. Otherwise, it’s not worth my time. I care about my friends, and I pay a lot of attention to them. I love participating in their conversations and joking around and hanging out with them. Without my old friends being jerks, I probably wouldn’t have found the friends I have today, and I’d probably still be stuck with them and following them around, and that would not be fun.”

    Live Streaming Access to the SCASD Middle Schools” Saturday Performance of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins on sale now!!

    Due to COVID restrictions, the limited available in-person seating for our performance of Mary Poppins sold out to Drama Club families only. Because of this, and because of the demand, Disney has granted us special live streaming access to our Saturday, September 26th performance! The performance begins at 7:00 pm.

    Here is where you can purchase an online streaming pass for the State College Middle School Drama Club performance of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins! This is a perfect option for friends, families, and supporters of the performing arts to watch and enjoy our musical production from the comfort of their own home or virtually anywhere else that there is an internet connection! Please note that the streaming pass allows a group or family to watch this live stream from only one device, if needing to stream to multiple devices please purchase a streaming pass per device, and the stream is only available at the time listed. This streaming pass is only for watching the performance online and is not a ticket to watch the performance in person.

    Online streaming passes go on sale February 10, 2022.

    Once purchased, How do patrons access the stream?

    A patron can access a stream by using the following steps:

    Purchase a stream ticket on ShowTix4U and download the tickets at the end of the purchase process.

    An email is also sent with a link to the stream. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER IF NO EMAIL CAN BE LOCATED.

    In the email that is sent, you can also download your tickets/access code. Starting on PAGE 2 of the ticket packet, you will find your stream instructions as well as ACCESS CODE. The instructions read as follows:

    You can access the Live Stream using any of these options

    Point your mobile camera at the QR code on the ticket and click on the notifications that appears.

    Open this PDF in a PDF application and click the word “HERE.”

    Go to and enter your access code.

    For a Live Stream event (events with specific date and time), you can use your access code up to 1 hour prior to the event until the end of the event. You can not rewind or rewatch the stream.

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    The Drama program at Friends Select is meant to educate, entertain, inform and transform. Students engage in authentic project-based learning in a safe, supportive, yet challenging environment. They learn to take risks through the art of collaboration. Careful attention to process results in a product they can all be proud of. We also take advantage of Philly’s vibrant theater community by attending live performances and hosting professional theater artists from throughout the city.


    • Lower School
    • Middle School
    • Upper School

    Lower School

    The Curtain Rises

    Lower School students can gain performance experience through the After School Program, which produces a short musical and talent show each year.

    Middle School

    Take the Stage

    Middle school students can choose Drama for their performance elective. These classes are intentionally small and an audition helps determine placement. Additionally, middle school students may participate in the annual show, which is a full-scale production each winter (alternating between play and musical).

    How to handle drama in middle school

    Upper School

    Artistic Exploration and Experimentation

    FSS Theater presents two mainstage productions each year (fall play and spring musical). Students can get involved in a variety of ways: performing onstage, building/painting scenery and props, designing costumes, playing in the pit band, assisting with directing/choreography, or running light and sound. We also participate in the Greater Philadelphia Cappies, a national theater journalism program which recognizes excellence in high school theater.

    Upper school Drama courses include instruction in a broad range of skills, including the acting craft, direction, production, theatrical design, playwriting, and developing a critical approach to theater. Students start in Drama I as ninth graders and can advance to Drama II or Technically Theater if they wish to further pursue their craft. We enjoy a vibrant partnership with Philly Young Playwrights, hosting teaching artists to mentor our students in writing monologues and plays. The Mary Margaret Longaker ’27 Playwriting Competition recognizes a winning student play each year, chosen by a panel of faculty, alumni, and theater professionals.