how to stop attention seeking behavior

How to Stop Attention Seeking Behavior in Kids (2021)

Last Updated on September 11, 2021.

Kids are attention-seeking by nature. They crave the attention of adults and want to be noticed for their accomplishments. If you have a child like this, how can you stop them from seeking out your attention? There are many things that parents can do to help teach kids how to behave appropriately while still meeting their need for love and affection. This blog post will go over some basic steps on how to stop attention-seeking behavior in kids!

What is attention-seeking behavior?

Attention-seeking behavior is a way for children to feel heard and validated. Children may engage in attention-seeking behaviors when they are feeling stressed or anxious, have low self-esteem, lack social skills, need entertainment or stimulation.

A child’s primary goal in life is to feel a sense of belonging and significance. And attention-seeking is a way for them to meet this goal. If they are not receiving enough attention, children might use attention-seeking behavior to get some, even if it’s negative.

RELATED: What to do if your child tries to control everything.

What are examples of attention-seeking behavior?

Some examples of attention-seeking behavior are:

  • a child might talk louder, use more words or ask questions to get attention from other people
  • some children interrupt you when you’re talking to other adults or on the phone
  • a child may throw objects around the room, hit others, and kick furniture
  • children will engage in risky activities such as jumping off of furniture to get attention
  • a child might even be destructive, like destroying items on purpose or starting a fire
how to stop attention seeking behavior
how to stop attention seeking behavior

Proactive Strategies to Stop Attention Seeking Behavior

Provide plenty of positive attention

Kids need attention daily. Give them plenty of one-on-one attention to proactively address attention-seeking behavior. If you fill their bucket with plenty of positive attention, they are much less likely to interrupt you with attention-seeking behavior later.

Give kids control and power

Kids crave power and control. A great way to prevent attention-seeking behavior is to give them control and autonomy wherever possible. Let them make choices for themselves and give them access to everything they need to be independent and self-sufficient.

When you need cooperation, use attention-overload

If you know that you need your kids to cooperate at a specific time (say, you have an important meeting or you’re expecting a phone call), dose your kids with attention-overload. This means you give them a large amount of undivided attention, usually doing activities they love, to make their bucket overflow!

Have a signal

An effective strategy to end attention-seeking behavior is to have a signal for when your kids need you. Practice this signal regularly so it becomes a habit! Your signal might be raising their hand, or tapping you on the shoulder. You could even use something fun like a specific silly face. This will eliminate the yelling, whining, and tapping that happens when kids are trying to get your attention while you’re busy.

How to Deal with Attention Seekers in the Moment

The best solution is to ignore attention-seeking behavior. If you respond at all, even with negative attention, they’ve won. They got what they wanted: your attention. The most effective strategy is to completely ignore the behavior at the moment and then address the situation later with proactive strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you ignore attention-seeking behavior?

Yes! The best way to deal with attention-seeking behavior is to ignore it. When you respond, even just telling them to wait, it will reinforce the behavior. The second you respond, they’ve won!

If necessary, walk away, into another room, to ignore the behavior.

What causes attention-seeking behavior?

A child’s primary goal is to gain belonging and significance. And one of the ways they do this is by getting attention. Attention seeking behavior is how the child tries to meet this goal if they are not receiving enough attention from other sources.

Is attention seeking a mental illness?

Attention-seeking is not a mental illness. It’s how your child feels connected to you. If they’re exhibiting attention-seeking behavior, they have a need that they are expecting you to meet.

What do you call a person who constantly needs attention?

People who constantly need attention are called attention-seekers. According to the American Psychiatric Association, excessive attention-seekers suffer from Histrionic personality disorder (HBD). There are other conditions that also contain attention-seeking as a characteristic, such as narcissism.

What You Should Do Next…

1. Snag Our Connected Parent Challenge

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2. Join Our Free Online Community

Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.

3. Take a Free 60-Minute Parenting Webinar

Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.

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