The Best Parenting Strategy to use when dealing with Attention Seeking Behaviour

Dr. Purushothaman
October 2, 2013

Attention seeking behaviour in children is common and usually nothing to worry about, but many parents worry about what parenting strategy they should use. From always giving in to your child to always standing firm, there is a wide spectrum of approaches.

Most people would say they have no pre-determined parenting strategy; that it comes naturally to them and they do what they feel is best. Others don't feel comfortable unless they have read the 'manuals' and have a proscribed method to follow. Whichever school of thought you belong to, the problems you face are the same. Attention-seeking behaviour is a common issue faced by parents and here are some strategies to deal with it:

1. Do not always respond

Children try to get your attention. Whether that is positive or negative attention, if they get a result from their actions they will do it again. If you always respond (positively or negatively), then the behavior is likely to be repeated. Part of the parenting strategy to deal with problem needs to be to ignore it sometimes.

2. Encourage good behaviour

Your child wants and needs attention. Make sure you give them positive attention for positive behavior. A positive parenting strategy like this encourages further good behavior as the child will see that it gets more results than their negative behavior.

3. Spend quality time with your child

Make sure that you have some dedicated time with your child every day, and that they know this is your special time with them. Even if it is only 10 minutes, tell them that it is their special time with you and do something worthwhile. It's no good cooking dinner and trying to talk to them while you're doing it - the child won't see that as attention. Any parenting strategy should build in dedicated time with your children every day.

4. Let them know your limits

Depending on the age of your child, let them know that you do have other things or other children to deal with. No parenting strategy will eliminate the need to do your chores! Sometimes a response such as "I'll play the game when I've finished the laundry" will stop whining and nagging, but only if you follow through when you say it. There's no point saying "in 5 minutes" and never getting to the 5 minutes. If you can, get your child to help you with what you are doing.

5. Know what to do if it gets too much

Sometimes attention-seeking behavior can be part of a bigger problem. If you have serious worries about your child's behavior, see your family doctor, who will be able to advise you and put you in touch with other agencies that can help. If you feel you are getting too stressed by your child, then it is also important to get some help, and most doctors are very sympathetic to such problems. Unfortunately, no parenting strategy will lead to a stress-free life.


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