Understanding A Child’s Attention Seeking Behaviour

5 min read

Written by Pradeep


Child seeking attention
Dealing with attention issues from a child is one of the toughest challenges faced by parents. Your child may exhibit behavior that demands too much attention. He may whine, squirm, or cry to get his point across. In this perspective, it is important to keep in mind the psychiatric diagnosis of ADHD. An acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD identifies symptoms of both passivity and hyperactivity as a neurological condition.

The reality of ADHD

However, before you begin fretting that your little one has a psychological issue, please note that it may be a fictitious disease! Who is telling this? Well, none other than the very ‘inventor’ of ADHD, Leon Eisenberg, is saying this. After decades of being responsible for drugging little children with the dangerous psychoactive drug Ritalin, Dr. Eisenberg finally confirmed in his deathbed confession that ADHD is a fictitious disease. You get the idea. Ritalin must have a market.
Did his confession serve anything? Perhaps not; doctors still diagnose kids with ADHD and prescribe Ritalin. In fact, your pediatric specialist may be totally unaware of this confession from the Father of ADHD! Parents must understand that neither the passivity nor their dynamic nature is a sign of a mental disorder. These are more the signs of inadequate parenting.

Think of it in this way
  • Your child would not develop an attention seeking behavior if you would not have pampered him. Read about pampered child syndrome here
  • Your child would not have to seek attention if there is not a genuine reason for that
  • Your child would not feel depressed and passive if you would ensure a happy upbringing

Attention seeking child

How much attention is enough?

If your child is creating all sorts of dramas and ruling your household and social circles, it is time to stop it all. That said, how much attention is enough can be decided by only you. When you notice signs of dominance in your child, or when you see him competing for attention and centre stage, you need to demarcate a line between his ‘need’ for attention and ‘demand’ for attention. Similarly, you will figure out that the child misbehaves to get attention, because he feels if being good doesn’t get me attention, let me be bad and mischievous.

The Three Kinds Of Attention

Children seek attention and approval from adults – from the first scribble to the first word, their centre of universe revolves around the parents. But as they grow up, they start fearing loss of that concern, and thus start vying for it. In this regard, it may be mentioned here that there are three kinds of attention-

  • Positive attention- happens when you approve them for being good – good work, behavior, grades- anything. A pat on the back, a hug and a kiss, praise or words of affection are examples of positive attention
  • Negative attention- threats, blackmail, scolding, lectures are examples of negative attention, when you get upset because your child misbehaved. For ADHD children, negative attention is a reward, while you think you are punishing
  • No attention- Ignoring the good or positive things, and giving no attention or approval to your child’s positive behavior is generally giving no attention. Some parents choose to give no attention when their brat misbehaves. Ignoring will only generate the need for negative attention in your child since he is not getting it in a positive way, he will do anything to seek it
Emotional Issues Behind ADHD children
  • Children really do not deserve to be alone. Loneliness is too heavy a burden for the innocent and sensitive mind to bear. If you are not paying attention, is it not natural for your child to display attention seeking tendencies? Look into the faults in your process of upbringing the child. The solution may be in rectifying some of your attitudes
  • It is the same when a parent pampers the child too much. In fact, pampered child syndrome is actually somewhat of a psychological condition. Experienced family counselor Maggie Mamen defined this aspect in her book. If you keep on giving your child whatever he wants always, it is natural for the child to resort to seeking attention. He knows that if he behaves in this certain way, he gets the thing he wants. This pattern conditions his psychology to be an attention seeker

child shouting for attention
Such children unfortunately may grow into egoistic, insensitive, and irresponsible adults. A recent case to conclude this observation is that of Texas teenager Ethan Couch who killed four pedestrians while drunk driving. His lawyer tried to explain his scenario as a medical condition called ‘Affluenza’ where a person becomes insensitive to human emotions due to money. Well, no money can ever bring back those four people who died under Ethan’s car on that fateful night

Can it be a valid medical issue?

Sometimes, the attention seeking behavior may actually point to a valid medical issue. So, if your child is pooping all over the floor despite yours telling otherwise, take him to a doctor for a stomach checkup. Maybe, he is suffering from worms in his stomach! It can be anything, but nothing like a severe psychological disorder that requires drugging the child. If you want to know about the psychoactive effect of the drug, try popping one for yourself. See how you feel, and then think how a child’s body and mind will feel to it.

What you should do?
    • Unpamper your child-The secret to perfect upbringing is in balancing. For example, sometimes you should avoid from giving your child whatever he wants. Give the demanded thing to him sometimes, and do not give at other times. When you are not giving, take your time to explain patiently the reasons. Tell him that he can find the same happiness already in the things he has
    • Give your children your TIME-Make out the time for your own children. Telling your children that you love them may not be enough, be with them when they need you. Shrug off the daily excuses – they are your own children,. For heaven’s sake!
    • Let go of egos-Parents must learn to forsake their egos in caring for children. Little kids do not have egos until they catch up the virus from the parents. This same ego may drive a parent to exert a superiority complex over the child, which is succinctly a stupid thing to feel! You simply cannot feel that you own your child! He is not your property. Yes, he has been born of you, but he is also an individual, albeit a tiny one
    • Avoid power struggles- your child and you are not in a battle field- do not make parenting a case of battle of wills. Make the time and energy to respond actively to your kids needs’

If you feel it is not working out, you may consult with a mental health professional to determine whether your child’s behavior falls within normal developmental limits. Professional counselors can also help you strategize your parenting styles and structures.


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Responses (1)

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Dr. Rachna

Dec 04, 2014

Nice one. Somehow sounds true.


Dr. Rachna

Dec 04, 2014

Nice one. Somehow sounds true.

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