My 3-year-old kid has become increasingly aggressive towards his 1-year-old sister and us”. He constantly seeks attention. When he doesn’t get, he gets aggressive. When he was the only child, he received a lot of one-on-one attention from our family and friends.
But, now that he has got a sibling, his behavior has undergone a transformation. Attention seeking behavior in a child is very common – but all types of attention aren’t equal.
What do you mean by attention-seeking behavior in a child?
“Why my child is acting this way?” Try to figure out the reason behind attention seeking behavior in adolescence is a good way to start. Ask yourself, “Why my kid is behaving in this manner”. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with making your child feel special, important and loved.
It’s normal for children to need attention and approval. However, attention-seeking becomes a problem when it happens all the time. But, how to stop attention seeking behavior?
Do not let your children’s need for attention turn into demands. When children do not get enough attention, they resort to outbursts, tantrums, nagging, teasing, and other annoying behaviors.
Traits of positive attention-seeking behavior:
When you are giving your kid the kind of attention and approval for being well behaved, he is getting positive attention.
Positive attention is about acknowledging your kid’s good behavior. Focusing on positives will encourage him to act in a similar manner.
Positive attention can be offered by appreciation or using encouragement words, hugs, or a pat on the back. A pleasant note in your kid’s tiffin box can bring him a smile and encourage him in good ways.
Traits of negative attention-seeking behavior:
When you are giving your kid the attention for misbehaving, you are giving negative attention. This begins when you show dissatisfaction or feel upset.
You may resort to threats, interrogation, and lectures. Negative attention is not a punishment; it is a reward. Complying towards your child’s negative attention seeking behavior and punishing it for it will only increase the problem.
Reasons behind my child’s attention seeking behavior:
According to the child psychologists, one of the primary reasons kids have become attention seekers is that some children get as little as 7 minutes a day of one on one time with their parents. Wouldn’t you be seeking attention from the people who matter the most in your life?
It is important to find out the why behind this behavior because if this persists it could lead your child to get bullied.
The whole issue of attention-seeking behavior is a matter of perspective. What is its substitution? Simple, change the word “attention” to the word attachment. Your child is not attention-seeking. Your child is attachment-seeking. It works like this; children are not fully developed human beings. Their brains and hearts are still working to figure out what is happening around them. Hence, they do not have a proper understanding of their emotions that sometimes take them over.
They also do not have a well-rounded vocabulary that they can put to use while communicating their needs. This leaves them with only one modality in terms of effectively communicating their needs to your – behavior. This is true of younger children just as much as it is true of adolescents.
Signs of attention seeking behavior in a child include:
· Being overly dramatic
· Getting angry
· Being a cry baby
· Throwing tantrums
· Pretending to being a victim
· They act super busy at times
· They put themselves in limelight to receive attention
Do not wait for misbehavior to happen. Do not take good behavior for granted. When a child demonstrates good behavior, notice it. Look for it. The more you notice, the more your child will try to portray good behavior. Anyone can catch children being bad. Turn this around. Catch them being good. It’s not easy. It takes practice!
How can you handle the attention seeking behavior in a child:
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the attention seeking behavior in a child:
1.Learn to ignore:
This is not something to talk about but time to put into practice. Not everything has to be ignored. It is okay to tell your attention seeking kid that whining is not the solution. Throwing tantrums or being aggressive will not get him what he wants. Furthermore; you will only speak to him when he is in a position to speak calmly.
2. Be empathic:
It might be tough to be “all smiles” and kind towards your kid when he is throwing tantrums. But if you are able to understand the reason behind such behavior, you will realize that it’s not his mistake and can be empathic towards him.
3. Give your child your time:
It is important as parents that we figure out how to balance the time. Parent’s’ time is a precious gift for the kids.
4.Drop the guilt and not the ground rules:
As a parent, we must realize our children’s behavior is not always a direct reflection of our parenting. It is hard to remember this as we will be always judged by those who are passing by our screaming child when in the grocery store, but our children have a free will. Parents need to remember this. So stop the self-inflicted guilt trip. Parents need to develop steady rules that kids can follow. This does not make you “mean”.
It is a negative approach and you should not do it. Agree that it is tough to remain calm towards arrogant behavior but you need to practice that. Yelling will never help.
Try to have a plan in place to remove yourself from the situation when you feel like you might explode. If your child is still whining and carries on with it, feel free to tell him that you need a few minutes of space.
2. Do not hover around:
You don’t have to be there whenever your kids need you. Parents do feel guilty about it and fear that their kid will remain unloved when they aren’t always responding to their child’s attention-seeking behavior. Being a good parent means teaching your children that all of their needs cannot be met all the time.
If you are always on-call whenever your kid needs you, your child will never learn the value of patience, the importance of waiting for their turn. Parents run the risk of creating an entitled, self-absorbed child who continues to be a dependent kid all his life.
In many families, both parents work. Your most important job is being a parent. When you come home after work, give your first hour to your kids. Do not be those parents who only spend weekends with their kids buying some toy, or taking them to a fancy restaurant.
Spend your time with your kids every day. Participate with them in their conversation, go on holidays, and listen to them to what is happening in their lives.