Every child wants and needs attention from their parents. It is actually crucial to their survival for parents to give their children positive attention every day of their lives. Because it is so crucial to their well being children will do whatever it takes to get the attention they desire from their parents. So what are some negative ways children seek attention? Here are just a few examples:
1. Playing with their food while eating dinner because they know you are going to tell them not to
2. Being the "class clown"
3. Being the over helper, the child who wants to do everything they can to help you out (this is actually a negative thing even though it seems to be very helpful)
4. The child who cries over everything because they know mom will stop what she is doing and comfort them
5. The child who always needs help even though you know they can do it.
6. The child who won't leave your side
These are just some of the ways a child can seek attention, the main way to know if it is attention seeking behavior is based on how you react to the behavior. If you are slightly annoyed or mildly frustrated then it is most likely attention seeking behavior.
How to get children to stop seeking attention in a negative way? Well it sounds easier than it is but the absolute best way to stop this behavior is to ignore the behavior. Ignoring means you completely ignore it, your body language, what you say about it, everything about yourself is to completely ignore the behavior. This is incredibly hard to do because the behavior is annoying but you have to give absolutely no reaction to the behavior and consistently give no reaction to the behavior before the misbehavior will stop. If you ignore it five times but then you just can't take it anymore and you give attention to it, the child has now learned that if they do it five times then you will pay attention to them so guess what they will continue doing the behavior. It takes 15 CONSECUTIVE TIMES of ignoring a behavior before a child will stop doing it. Consistency and completely ignoring the behavior are two of the most effective ways to get rid of the behavior.
On top of ignoring the behaviors it is also extremely important to make sure you are giving your children lots of positive attention to your kids throughout the day. I have three kids who get along extremely well - of course there are days when they hate each other - and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that when I see them playing well together I comment on it and tell them how much I love seeing them play nicely together! I also am constantly aware of how I am spending my time. Did I spend the entire day cleaning and working on the computer? Did I take time throughout the day to play with my kids - even if it was only for a few minutes? I have found that the more positive attention I give my kids the less I have to deal with the negative ways my kids seek attention.