Attention seeking behavior

Parenting, Uncategorized , , , , ,

Many parents feel that their cildren engage in attention seeking behaviors.  Thhey  often use thei behavior as a way to communicate  that they are seeking connecttion with you. Here are some  things you can do to reduce the behaviors that yyou want to avoid.

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Effective Attention giving strategies:

  • Give the child a task, for example carry something with them for the teacher down the hall when going to another location. At home, ask the child for help with the task you are doing, if you are feeding another child ask them to sing a song to the child or find a book to read to you while you feed the baby. If you are cooking/cleaning give them a bowl and spoon to stir, or a cloth to use to “clean” too.
  • Set a timer and every 10-15 min make sure to connect with that child by getting on their level and tell them you are happy they are there. After a week or so you can move this to every 30 min. If you have been engaging with them you can wait until you have been preoccupied or giving attention to others for 10 min or so.
  • Take a few min several times a day to narrate what you see the child doing. For example, you are giving your baby a bottle, you are pushing your truck up the ramp, you are stacking blocks. Be objective,  no need to add praise such as good job or anything, just state what you see.
  • At home set aside a few min of 1:1 time, especially soon after getting home, it can be a very simple song that you sing together such as “I’m happy to see you, I’m happy to see you, Let’s have a big hug, I’m happy to see you” (sung to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell, or any other tune you want!”
  • At home set aside a special basket or activity that the child only gets to do when you are caring for someone else or yourself. Ex: while in a high chair, allow child to color, paint, use play dough. Have a special movie/TV show time.
  • If child begins “acting out” when you are giving attention to someone else, pause (if possible) and say to the child, “You want time with me right now. I want to spend time with you too.” Give the child a hug and say, “I love you and I will play with you when this job is finished” If possible use a visual timer.  Create a play list of a few songs, play it and tell the child that when the music is over you can play with them.


Other tips to help with listening/cooperation.


  • Be sure to acknowledge the child often, even if it’s just saying their name, saying hello, giving a hug etc. Kids love to feel connected and important.
  • Thank the child for helpful and cooperative behavior. “Thank you for your help.”
  • Avoid classifying behavior as good or bad, try safe or not safe. “Keeping your feet on the floor is a safe choice.” “Climbing on the table is not safe, please keep your feet on the floor.” 
  • Practice “gentle” touches with people and pets, find a safe way to be rough or “hard” (pounding on a box or drum) and allowing the child to practice both hard and gentle.
  • Use “First/then” phrases, first we clean up this toy, then we get another one.” “first we put on our socks, then we put on our shoes.” Using this with simple activities, such as socks and shoes, will make it easier for kids to complete more challenging or less desirable activities.
  • Give plenty of opportunities to run, be loud, be rough, jump and climb. Find way to do these things safely. If a child is struggling to sit calmly, it is an indication that they need more opportunities to move, forcing them to sit still more will not help.
  • Label your child’s emotions. “You are feeling sad and left out because I am giving your brother his bottle. I know it’s hard to wait to play. I love you and we can play when the music stops” (then play some music that will last as long as you need it to last).

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