Attention Getting Behavior

Developing positive parenting techniques requires that you cultivate an understanding of some of the underlying messages involved in your child’s behaviors.

As a parent it is easy to feel responsible for the behavior choices our children make. It can be embarrassing when they are less than appropriate. Children are always experimenting and sometimes they discover that the naughty behaviors are the ones that give them the most attention.

Alfred Adler, a social psychologist bases his understanding of children’s behavior on their desire to belong. When a child is seeking negative attention, they are seeking a sense of belonging but it is rather misguided or mistaken.  They seem to be saying ” I only belong when I am the center of attention.” Parents often accidentally reinforce this “negative attention- getting behavior” by responding to it in a way that sets a pattern in motion. One of the ways to determine if your child is in this pattern is by sensing your own emotional response to the behavior. If you are annoyed, chances are you’ve discovered a mistaken goal for attention in your child.

The child’s behavior is not telling you the whole story. The child is really saying, “Notice me. Involve me usefully.”

So what to do?

If there is no risk to life and limb you can ignore the behavior.

If the child is disruptive, remove the child to his or her room.

If possible redirect the child to another more useful activity.

It’s not a terrible thing to want attention from your family but when it comes in socially inappropriate ways, it is best for the adults to help the child make better choices. One of the best ways to help your child get the attention they crave is to give it when they are not asking for it. It is sometimes called, “Catching them being good.” It is important to plan special times also. One on one periods are a special way to deepen the parent’/child bond. In this way your child receives encouragement and attention for behaviors that are not annoying and disruptive. Their sense of belonging is satisfied in a positive way.

Children that feel good about themselves behave well.

About The Author

Lois Olson

Founder of The Montessori Children's House Inc. Laramie, Wyoming Montessori Primary Certification 1973
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting facilitator certification
Thirty eight years of experience working with children ages 3-6
Twenty five years facilitating parenting groups
Ten years facilitating teacher training
B.A In Psychology

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