Handling an Attention-Seeking Child
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Handling an Attention-Seeking Child"Mommy, come here and see my picture."
"It's very nice, Sarah."
"I can't find the blue crayon."
"It's right here."
"I can't find the green one."
"Here it is."
"I don't want to color. I want to paint."
"I'll get your paint set."
"Will you paint this flower for me, Mommy?" It's normal for children to need attention and approval. However, attention-seeking becomes a problem when it happens all the time. Even charming attention-seeking can become controlling. Many children make tragedies out of trivial concerns to get your sympathy. Excessive attention-seeking results in a situation where your child commands your life. Many children misbehave to get attention. The most notorious reason for misbehavior in young children, this can be the seed for discipline problems in later childhood and adolescence. Your goal is not to eliminate your child's need for attention and approval. When handled correctly, your child's need for attention can be a helpful tool for improving your child's behavior. Eliminate not the need for attention, but those attention- seeking behaviors that are excessive or unacceptable. A mother who says, "Sarah, I know that you want me to stay and paint with you. I am busy now. If you can be patient and paint by yourself for ten minutes, I'll be able to spend some time with you then," is giving Sarah an opportunity to have the attention that she wants and needs. She is not giving in to nagging. How Much Attention Is Too Much?
That depends on you. How much attention-seeking can you tolerate? The rule is that children will seek as much attention as you give them. You must strike a balance between how much your children want and how much you can give. Even normal attention-seeking can drive you crazy on some days. Do not let your children's need for attention turn into demands for attention. When children do not get enough attention, they resort to outbursts, tantrums, nagging, teasing, and other annoying behaviors. They think, "If I can't get attention by being good, then I'll misbehave to get Mom's attention." Three Kinds of Attention
Adult attention and approval are among the strongest rewards for children. Unfortunately, parents seldom use attention wisely. There are three kinds of attention:
- Positive Attention
- Negative Attention
- No Attention