How to Deal with Negative Attention Seeking Behaviors in Children
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Save yourself the headache and give him some special time.

Save yourself the forehead lumps from banging your head against the wall; there are ways around your child’s negative attention-seeking behavior. Even if he’s been driving you nuts for months with this kind of attitude, you can turn it around by offering positive attention throughout the day rather than feeding into it. Encouraging words and a designated playtime with your little guy will go a long way, as well as saving on aspirin for that headache.


  1. 1
    Set aside at least 10 minutes each day for your child. Assign a designated amount of time for this each day and stick to it, such as after dinner and when homework is done.
  2. 2
    Inform the child two minutes prior to the start of that time that his special time starts in two minutes.
  3. 3
    Ask your child what he wants to do for his special time. Since this is his special time with you, allow him to choose the activity--within reason, of course. That’s right, no skydiving after dinner, it’s bad for your digestion!
  4. 4
    Praise him or add positive comments during this time. The comments can be on his skill at the activity or how nice something is. offers a helpful analogy for this time: “bathing the child in a warm bath of positive attention.”
  5. 5
    Give the warning when the special time is two minutes from being up.
  6. 6
    Inform your child when you have reached the conclusion of the day’s special time.
  7. 7
    Let him know that you have enjoyed your time together and you look forward to the time tomorrow.
  8. 8
    Offer him praise and kind words to give him the attention he craves and help his self-image. Make it a point to notice good behavior and choices throughout the day and tell your child often that you notice. This will lower the chances of him looking for approval later on. Positive attention will almost always win over negative attention.
  9. 9
    Check to see if the child has eaten and has had adequate sleep. Hungry and tired kids can get quite cranky and start in on the negative attention.
  10. 10
    Model good behavior. Kids pay attention and act out what they see. If you want him to act nice, you should take the lead.
  11. 11
    Resist feeding into the negative attention. Whether you realize it or not, the negative is still attention, and by giving it to him, you are giving him what he’s craving. Ignore the behavior for a few minutes if he's safe. Stick to your rules and remind him of them if the ignoring doesn't work.Give out punishment appropriate to the behavior if it is warranted.
  12. 12
    Give each child of the family her own special time and recognition. Make each one feel loved, special and important.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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