To raise well-rounded individuals, it is essential for children to feel a sense of belonging and value from an early age. Without these fundamental elements, child misbehavior can occur. But what is misbehavior, really?

Consider a three-year-old child breaking something. Is this misbehavior? Not necessarily. A three-year-old breaking things can be considered normal behavior rather than misbehavior. But then, what is genuine misbehavior?

One category of actual misbehavior is excessive attention-seeking.

Understanding Attention-Seeking Behavior in Children

We’ve all seen or heard of a child who insists on being the center of their parent’s attention at all times, to the point that the parent can’t get anything else done. If the parent takes their eyes off the child for even a moment, the child cries. This behavior can even extend to bedtime, with the child becoming agitated whenever the parent moves or walks away.

This is an example of excessive attention-seeking. The child might cry, shout, or display signs of separation anxiety. All these are manifestations of a child seeking excessive attention.

So how do we identify such child behavior? One way is to pay attention to your own feelings. If you find yourself feeling angry, frustrated, guilty, or annoyed, then the child is likely seeking excessive attention.

Another way to recognize these behaviors is by observing the child. If you ask them to stop a certain behavior, and they stop briefly but soon start again, they are likely doing it to draw your attention.

Child Behavior Management: Addressing Attention-Seeking Behavior

Addressing these misbehaviors involves fostering an emotional connection with the child, expressing appreciation for them, focusing on their strengths, praising them, and letting them know they are loved unconditionally.

Firstly, try giving the child specific tasks to complete. This can divert their need for excessive attention towards the task at hand, providing them with a sense of accomplishment.

Secondly, give them frequent hugs.

Thirdly, create “special time” with the child. For example, dedicate an hour each week where no one can disturb the two of you, and you can just play together. Jane Nelson mentions how she would even refuse to answer the phone during these special times.

The child will feel thoroughly attended to during these special times. Regularly scheduling such sessions isn’t a luxury, but rather a worthwhile and joyful practice.

Typically, parents may question the value of this. I believe it is incredibly meaningful. This special time is ours and ours alone. With this, the child won’t feel the need to constantly seek your attention.

Fourthly, share a knowing smile with your child or establish a secret sign that only the two of you understand. Some parents use a special gesture that means “I love you.”

Parenting Strategies: Avoiding Over-Indulgence in Children

In addition to the above strategies, an important piece of advice is to avoid over-indulgence. Overly pampering a child or satisfying their every whim can lead to endless demands. As a parent, providing what is typically needed by a child should suffice; avoid over-serving.

If a child is seeking excessive attention, you might want to try ignoring the behavior, not the child. Rather than engaging in a lengthy explanation, simply redirect them to the next task at hand, like washing their face or brushing their teeth.

To summarize, recognizing and addressing child misbehavior requires understanding, patience, and a good measure of love. It’s all about fostering a deep emotional connection with the child and ensuring they feel valued and loved, ultimately promoting healthy parent-child bonding.