Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dealing with attention seeking behaviour

                         How to cope when your child is misbehaving for attention!

It happens to all parents and practitioners.......dealing with an attention seeking child! It is a common trait in young children, and there are many reasons that this may occur too. Attention seeking behaviour comes in many different forms, whether it be wetting themselves despite being toilet trained, biting, hitting, shouting, screaming and drawing on walls.....anything which can gain any form of response.

According to Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, children seek attention for 2 main reasons ; either they do not get enough attention or they are getting too much attention!! (http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/reasons-children-seek-attention-10854.html) Some children who are spoilt by their care givers can use unwanted behaviour to gain attention, whilst some children with new siblings use it in a similar manner to get attention from their parents who are spending a lot of time with that new baby!!

I have been experiencing some unwanted behaviour which I am linking to attention seeking with our daughter. I am sure this behaviour has come about over the last few days because she is missing the company of children her own age at Pre-school, and where we are on half term and she is stuck with Mummy all day, no amount of fun activities can compare!!

It does make things very tiring and you do get tempted to loose your temper, but this is where sticking to your guns is key. Our daughter has been screaming and shouting at us, but I have taken to just carrying on and ignoring her. She gets even more frustrated at first, but soon realises that I am not going to budge and then she calms down and apologises of her own accord (even if this does take a while!!)

The other ways to help discourage attention seeking behaviour are:

1. Take time to give your child positive attention. Pick up on the fantastic things they have done. This will encourage your child to seek your attention in more positive ways, such as getting dressed by themselves or tidying up their toys. A big hug and kiss always works well here to reinforce the behaviour!

2. Make sure you spend some time in your day on a one to one basis with your child. We have been doing plenty of this during these Easter holidays, and the behaviour usually comes after this where she wants to still hang on to my attention! This is where being firm and in control lets them know who is boss!! They need to know that they can have your time, but you do have other things to do too.

3. Ignore your child when they are attention seeking. Unless the behaviour is harming someone else, the best thing is to walk away from them and let them scream it out. It is working for us!! When the behaviour is too much to ignore, send them to a time out space or to their bedrooms to cool off, explaining that they can come out once they have calmed down.

4. Spend time once your child has calmed down to discuss their feelings. Why are they feeling so cross? How can you work it out together to make things better for everybody? Some older children may prefer to write their feelings down instead.

5. If you give a warning, make sure you carry it out. For example : "If you don't tidy up your toys, you cannot play outside" If you let them have the reward without carrying out the task beforehand, you are giving out the signals that you can be easily swayed!!

What do you do when your child misbehaves to seek attention? What works for you?

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