Seeking Attention Through Misbehavior

Perhaps the most common motive for misbehavior is the desire of seeking attention from the parents. Children naturally seek attention, and constantly try to reaffirm that they belong and are accepted, often in ways that are thoroughly beguiling and inventive. But they also seek attention in ways that are not so appealing.

Showing off at family gathering, throwing temper tantrums in the middle of your morning routine, asking endless questions that go far beyond the bounds of normal intellectual curiosity, fighting with siblings while you try to cook dinner- all these are nothing more than bids for attention.

A passive child may also resort to helplessness. For example, a youngster who insists on help with her clothes after she is able to dress herself may simply be carving attention. To the child, any response at all—even nagging, scolding or spanking– may seem better than being ignored. As a result, you may find that efforts to curb this attention- seeking behavior are frequently counterproductive; they may actually encourage the problem. You may also discover that some such behavior is more or less fully intentional.

You’re four or five year old may giggle or smile sheepishly if you pick her up and tell her that you know why she acts that way. A toddler, of course, will not be so aware of her motives. In any case, your best bet is simply to see the behavior for what it is and to respond to it matter of fatly.

Curiosity fuels the process of learning. It is a natural and healthy impetus to explore the world. Curiosity also creates problems, however, when household treasures get broken in the hands of curious toddler’s, or children bite or use profanity just to see what happens. Despite these problems it is a bad idea to discourage curiosity.

It is better to promote inquisitiveness within clear boundaries. This also helps to establish safe places for the youngster to explore. One nearly universal display of curiosity is in testing the limits set by parents. You should expect your child to sometimes challenge your rules. In this way, the child gradually grows able to predict the results as she experiments.

geeta krishnan