How to Discourage Attention Seeking Behaviors in Children
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"Hey Dad, did you know I can do this?"

If moms got paid a nickel for every time they heard, "Hey Mom, look at this!" parenting would be a lucrative job. When you're on the phone, entertaining guests or when you're trying hard to get something done, kids will try just about anything to get the attention back on them. Sometimes kids try to soak up adult attention by putting on a show or by talking incessantly. At other times, they may settle for negative attention by whining, crying, arguing or throwing a tantrum.


  1. 1
    Provide kids with daily positive attention and they'll be less likely to demand attention from you later on. Get down on the floor and build with blocks, play a board game, read together or just talk, in order to prevent attention-seeking behaviors whenever possible.
  2. 2
    Praise kids for their good behaviors. Often, positive behavior, such as playing quietly, waiting patiently or using manners, goes unnoticed. Recognize your child's good behaviors by saying, "Wow, you're playing so quietly all by yourself. Great job!" and he'll be more likely to continue.
  3. 3
    Discuss your child's positive behaviors with other adults when he's present and he'll beam with pride. For example, when he's within earshot, say to Grandma, "He did such a good job waiting for his turn to talk today when my friend came over. He was patient and he waited quietly without interrupting." He'll be motivated to repeat those behaviors.
  4. 4
    Establish rules for your child about attention-seeking behaviors. Tell him he cannot interrupt adults when they are talking or that he cannot make loud noises when you are on the phone. Discuss with him what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are unacceptable.
  5. 5
    Plan ahead for times when your child is likely to exhibit attention-seeking behaviors. Tell your child, "My friend is coming over to visit today. If you do a good job of waiting your turn to talk and using your manners, I'll take you to the playground after she leaves." Explain what is expected of your child and what will happen if he follows the rules and what will happen if he doesn't follow the rules.
  6. 6
    Provide a warning when he exhibits attention-seeking behaviors. For example, say, "If you keep making loud noises while we are at the library, you won't be able to get any books today." Make it clear to him what will happen if the behavior continues.
  7. 7
    Ignore mild inappropriate attention-seeking behaviors. If your child is making loud noises to gain attention at the dinner table, pretend you don't hear it. Then, provide him with positive attention as soon as he is quiet by saying, "I like the way you are eating so quietly right now."
  8. 8
    Use time-out to remove a child from the situation if his behaviors continue to be problematic. Place your child in a time-out area that is away from the scene of the crime and the lack of attention he receives in time-out will teach him that his behaviors are not a good way to get attention.
  9. 9
    Avoid starting the time-out timer until your child is quiet, if he attempts to gain attention while he's in time-out by yelling, kicking the wall or making noise. Place him in time-out for one minute for each year of age. For example, a 4-year-old child would receive a 4-minute time-out.


  • Make sure your praise is genuine. Kids will see through any praise that is not heart-felt.Teach kids appropriate social skills so they understand how to take part in a conversation without interrupting.


  • Ignoring a child's behavior may initially make the behavior worse as the child tries harder to gain your attention. Don't give in or it will reinforce negative behaviors.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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