Everyone engages in attention seeking behaviors. Yet, some are more appropriate than others. Kids are experts on getting the form of attention that they are seeking. Unfortunately, the behaviors that they engage in to get this attention are not always the most appropriate. Sometimes these behaviors can be loud or unsafe, and other times they may appear to be socially appropriate yet, the rate at which they occur makes them inappropriate.
We have all experienced children engaging in inappropriate attention seeking behaviors. Yelling, hitting, contradicting others, and stomping can all potentially be examples of attention seeking behaviors. The attention kids are seeking isn’t always positive attention. Here are some tips to remember when your child is engaging in inappropriate attention seeking behaviors:
- Teach appropriate ways to seek attention, as well as waiting. Sometimes children engage in inappropriate attention seeking behaviors because those behaviors have been reinforced in the past and they do not have functional ways to communicate that need in any other way. It may also be easier to be “bad” and get what you want quicker.
- Attend to appropriate behaviors that you observe your child engaging in. It is usually easy to notice and respond to the behaviors that are inappropriate, but don’t forget to acknowledge and provide attention for the appropriate behaviors your child engages in.
- Withhold the attention they are seeking. If you need to and it is safe, walk away and engage in another activity. This can be very difficult to do. If the child is engaging in an unsuitable vocal conversation to get or maintain a specific form of attention, and removing yourself is difficult, you can try to talk about something different. Yes, attention is being provided but it may not be the attention that they are seeking with the negative behaviors. When it is not safe to leave you child as they are engaging in behaviors that may lead to harm to themselves or others, limit conversation, eye contact, etc. and only attend enough to keep them safe.
- The task of decreasing inappropriate attention seeking behaviors can be a challenging one. It is not easy. It takes practice and sometimes a change in our own behavior to seek effective results!