HOW TO deal with ATTENTION SEEKING behaviour in kids

Attention seeking behaviour in kids: Do you notice your child while doing certain inappropriate acts to get your attention? Or ever faced a situation where your child lying down on the floor or the market to get a chocolate pack.Or teasing other siblings by stealing their candy or toys. Yes! So, this article is especially for you. All the examples discussed above are of an attention-seeking child. He does different odd behaviors to get attention from the parents.

Every kid wants attention from their parents, and he will do all the things to get that. When you are having 3,4 siblings, and if you cannot pay proper attention to a single kid. Could be because you might have to attend to a younger kid. This can make your other kids feel anxious and frustrated.

In response, the child plans to do certain behavior or acts to get the parent’s attention.


  1. What is attention-seeking behaviour?
  2. Why does a child seek attention?
  3. Signs of attention seeking behaviour in kids
  4. Suggestions to get over attention seeking behaviour
  5. Quick Fix Tips – To tackle attention seeking behaviour.
  6. Word of Caution to parents
  7. Conclusion

What is attention-seeking behaviour?

Attention seeking behavior is a conscious or unconscious attempt to become the centre of attention. Even if it is for some time to gain validation or admiration.

When a kid is not getting desired attention from their parents or caregiver, he will start to do some acts or odd behaviors to get some of your attention or act out some drama.

But what should I do if my child does these dramas all the time? Do not worry, in this blog, I will discuss how you can effectively deal with your child’s attention-seeking behaviour.

Also, along with reading this blog it will benefit you to read my article on 10 effective ways to reduce temper tantrums immediately. Cause attention seeking behaviour and temper tantrums almost go hand in hand for younger children.

Why does a child seek attention?

If we look at the development span of the children, it is found out that the complete personality of the child is built over several years.

So, kids especially young ones do not have a proper understanding of their emotions and brain functioning.

They do not have the proper vocabulary to speak and tell you the exact matter.

But the one thing they can do is to behave is a certain way is to make you observe them and understand their needs.

There are also several another factor that may contribute to this. Factors such as jealousy.

For example,

your elder child will not get the same attention as he is getting earlier after your second or third child is born. So, the child might try to do some odd behaviours to get the attention back from their parents.

Other factors can be low self-esteem where the child feels others are doing better than them. This can happen when the kid is compared to a sibling or other kids on some thing or the other. It also can happen when of sibling is gifted on one area which makes the other kid feel inadequate.

 Loneliness kids when they are young are primarily at home and source of entertainment is from school or parents. When one kid gets the knack of stealing all the attention of the parent. The other one can get lonely and resort to attention seeking behaviour.

Boredom is also one of the triggers for attention seeking behaviour in kids. When the kid is bored, they mostly resort to coming and clinging to you to seek entertainment.

They can resort to do all thing possible to get your attention and get entertained.

Knowing how frustrating this can be for a parent we have listed how parents can deal with the cry of ‘I am bored” in our article “I AM BORED” – Surprising benefits for kids you did not know about

Signs of attention seeking behaviour in kids

We have listed below some of the common signs that you can spot attention seeking behaviour in kids.

Be vigilant and when you catch such behaviour early on it is much easier to combat and overcome it. Rather than make it into a full-blown habit and then fight to come out of it.

To know more about habits and how they are created and how to come out of unhealthy habit. please read my blog 25 easy ways to teach kids good habits

We have listed below few of the examples of attention seeking behaviour in kids:
  • “Am I a good girl”, “Have I done this well”, “Is this drawing beautiful”, Asking for validation is good but excessive of it for every simple single thing can be sign of attention seeking behaviour formation.
  • “It is hurting so much”, “I’m too tired”, “you are always giving me difficult job”, “I am an excellent writer”, “I am a superhero in school”, You would have faced a kid just tripping over and then howling and screaming as if the world has come to an end. Such exaggeration to gain your sympathy is one such attention seeking behaviour in kids.
  • Constantly interpreting you with some very trivial matters. They can come running for validation, or try to pick up a fight and run to you for solution, interrupting you to ask for simple things like “I like to drink water”, “I want this or that”. These can be classified as attention seeking behaviour.
  • “What happens if I drink alcohol”. “I feel like smoking”. “Really I don’t wish to go to school”. “I want to stay back late”. These are examples when a child tells something which the child knows is not acceptable by you. And thereby getting a reaction from you.  

Few More

  • “Can you read this for me”, “I can’t wash the vegetables”, “I’m very young to do it”, “I don’t know how to tie my shoelaces. This can sound as innocent ask for help to you. But when your kids tell in an age where you know they can do it themselves it can be classified as attention seeking behaviour in kids. Example when a child runs to go to play the child ties his own shoelaces. But suddenly another day they are just deny that they know to do it themselves.
  • “Mommy said so”, “daddy told so”, “I think this is what aunty talked about you”, Sometimes they can be information to you. But when you see a child repeat it often and they convey messages that causes trouble between relationships. Then you should know that they are cleverly seeking attention.
  • “I have a headache”, “I feel sick”, “I can’t go to school”, “my stomach hurts”, When these are told very often and repeated check up to a doctor proves that your child is healthy. You can classify this faking of illness is to get your attention.

Some examples of extreme cases of attention seeking behaviour

  • When a child acts as gang leader to exercise power and gain attention.
  • If a child causes harm to another child to prove superiority.
  • When a child causes harm to themselves to gain sympathy.

If you spot extreme attention seeking behavior in kids that are outlined above. It is best that they are addressed immediately, and suitable medical help is sort by the parent.

Suggestions to get over attention seeking behaviour in kids

Yes! You can control your child’s attention-seeking behavior. I am going to give you some tips and tricks to effectively deal with your child and reduce and stop their attention-seeking behaviour.

A behaviour took time to set in. So, it is not going to go away in a days’ time. Below I have listed out things that we need to do consistently over a period.  So that our kids get the message loud and clear and drop the attention seeking behaviour.

Spend quality time

Explain To Kids

The fundamental cause of attention seeking behaviour in kids is because of lack of quality time.

Whenever possible spend as much quality time with your kid as possible.

Most of the time all that you kid need is to have a little conversation with you.

When you give it to them without them seeking it will go a long way in reducing the attention seeking behaviour in kids.

Ignore their bad deeds or behaviors

Focus on the present instead of the past. Ignore all the past bad behaviors of your child and make a new start.

Tell him/her that you love them and mean it. If he/she is bad at something, do not blame. Motivate him/her with your love and speech.

If they are doing some acts to get your attention, try to avoid or ignore their behaviors. It will lead to reducing their behavior if they are not getting attention anymore.

Make your kid feel loved and secure

Kids resort to seek attention when they feel that they must fight for your attention. And your time for them in limited.

When you spend time with them give him/her positive feedback that makes him/her feel more motivational and confident.

Make them feel that you are available and always love them. Do not forget the amazing benefits of hugging your kid. This will not only make them feel loved, but they will feel secure about your presence and availability.

Find out the talent your child. Their passion and expertise. Strive to help them in it and give praise on little achievements.  This will make them feel that you are involved in their life and their wishes and interest matter to you.

Teach them daily a good behavior

Learning is the best solution for almost every problem. You should teach them good behaviors daily. Children also learn from modelling; they do what they learn from others.

So, be a good example of a good role model for them. Teaching good behavior may lead to a reduction in bad or odd behaviors.

If you tend to vine, cry or crib and get your work done or get your way with others. Soon your children will follow the same path.  So, take a good deep look at your behaviour to get insight as to why your kids might behave in a certain way.

Spent time with them before bedtime

Involving Kids while telling stories

According to the researches, during the night-time, our critical mind will start to slow down, and we can directly send messages to the person’s subconscious mind.

Spending time with your child before bed and listen to him carefully and provide better options and solutions to cope with the issue.

Talk to them about the day and the challenges that they have faced. Highlight instances what do you think is in appropriate behaviour and gently guide them stop stain from it.

Tell them stories that has moral values. Stories where the characters of the story display good behaviour. And truly heroic behaviour in a positive way.

It will be good if you glance through one of our trending blogs on the benefits of storytelling to your child. We have given you the link for quick access. Storytelling to kids – Popular Trend these day

Define rules and be consistent

Make a list of the family rules and tell your child the consequences of breaking rules.

Defining rules gives your child clarity and boundaries that they can thread in. This will make them be within limit and their desires and attention-seeking behaviors will become reduce day by day.

When you set such rules be consistent about it every time and all the time.

If you have a rule that your kids should not disturb you when your room is locked unless there is an emergency. Make sure that you follow the same rule every single time till the messages loud and clear to the child.

Entertaining them once and scolding them the other time when they knock on your room door will send mixed signals to your child. And they will keep trying their luck every single time.

Make clear to them what “Emergency” is

What you think is an emergency may not be what your child perceives as emergency. Do not assume that the kid automatically knows what emergency is.

While for you a cut with blood oozing is an emergency. And for your kid a candy stolen by a sibling will be perceived as an emergency.

It suits you well if your make clear to your child the few instances that you think are emergency.

Explain things like if there is blood then it is an emergency. If some fall and injury happen then it is an emergency.

Make it very clear and explicit to your kid.

Set clear expectations on acceptable behaviour

I have seen my husband clearly able to state what is an acceptable behaviour and what is not.

When he is on a phone call, he is very clear that he does not want to talk to the children. Not only that he is also clear that we must be quiet and not make noise.

I have seen my boys whispering and fighting with each other. While it is funny to watch. You know that it is happening because your husband is on a call.

I find setting clear boundaries and expectations does help in dealing with the issue.

Acknowledge, Be Empathetic and probe further

When your child is starting out the attention seeking behaviour. Acknowledge it and empathise with the kid. Try and rationalise with the child to stop it. Do this by diversion or positive feedback.

However, probe a little deeper and find out the reason why you child is building an attention seeking behaviour. When you figure it out and know the triggers your will be better equipped to avoid it. Tackle it and overcome it.

Quick Fix Tips – Things to do when you are in the middle of an attention seeking behaviour episode

No a few things that you can do when you are in the middle open attention seeking episode from your child. The steps are given to mitigate the solution to stop further empire embarrassment from your child.

  • One of the best things you can do when your child seeks attention is not give attention. Ignore you child when they display this habit. But do be watchful that they are of no harm to self or other.
  • Do passive listening while you go about doing your work. So that your child feels that they have got your attention. They will get bored by your almost nonresponsive nods and give up and proceed with their work.
  • This is one of the things that I have done. Especially with my first child. When he gets cranky and clingy and seeks attention he can almost be like (in loss of a better word) a Leech. So, I just quietly leave him to himself and walk to the next room post ensuring that he is in a safe place.

Few more

  • My second one can sometimes be quite a drama person. With stories beyond one’s wild imagination. A simple question back asking him to substantiate what he says usually makes him dropped the subject and move on. Example She told me that he had to fight an elephant in his school. I told him that it is very dangerous and tomorrow I will check with the watchmen.  
  • While I love my kids talking to me. Sometimes talking for getting an attention does burden me. While I do not wish to be rude and shoo them away. I have always felt when I give them a time say “10 minutes” before my next assignment. It not only encourages children to talk to you, but it also puts a time frame when they must finish and continue with their work.
  • Avoid things that are triggers that can lead to attention seeking behaviour. For example, my niece has this habit of wanting to interrupt and talk when she finds me talking to someone. She comes up with some random things that she would want me to pay attention to. So, knowing this I tend to take long calls or chatting with friends in another room where she is not present. In this way I can effectively avoid the trigger that leads to and attention seeking behaviour in her.

Word of Caution to parents

While we have given you suggestions to help your kid overcome attention seeking behaviour in the long run.

And give a new quick fix tips of how to handle an episode of attention seeking behaviour.

It is also important for us to give you certain word of caution to help you on your journey for the betterment of your child.

Request parents to refrain from the below mentioned practice.

Do not Compare – Accept them as they are

Being Cranky

Parents put a lot of effort in making their child’s personality according to their desire. But every human being is different from each other.

Do not force them to follow the same instructions that your parents were used to give you when you were a child.

Just accept that the world is changing day by day and you should change according to the environment.

Accept your child as he is and allow them to make their choices on their own.

If they have good moral values, it is all good. To know more on moral values and how to develop them in our kids read our blog Absolutely Surprising truth about Morality development in kids.

Do not put your emotions on them

After a working day, you will feel frustrated and angry most of the time. And if your child teases you with their odd behaviours it will turn the flame on.

So, be relax, and do not express your emotions on your child. Do not scream on them. Try to get control of yourself and listen to them carefully and respond in a loving and caring manner.

Do not pork your nose in every situation

According to different theories of personalities, human beings strive to become independent. He loves their world and choices.

Some parents interfere in every aspect of their child, like wearing clothes, going out, playing sports, etc.

 This will stop them from being independent. The more they are dependent on you the more chances are there for them to become clingy and start seeking more and more of your attention.

You will need to introspect and look at your parenting style and make appropriate changes if you feel you need to make. To get to know your parenting style better read our blog on PARENTING STYLES – How to spot your style?

 Do not let them get you to a guilt trip

Sometimes kids are very smart and know how to take you on a guilty trip.

 My daughter was an expert in this. Me being a working mother she easily would twist my father into a guilt trip stating that her friend’s mother is a stay at home mother while her’s is working.

 Just by gaining this sympathy most of the time she gets away with what she wants from her grandfather.

Do not get your child to play you in this way. You are doing all that you can keeping the best interest of your child in your heart. Is nothing to feel guilty about and you need not given to this kind of a sympathy hook if they try on you.

Do not Assume There Is Something Wrong with Your Child

Just because your child has got into the annoying habit of attention seeking. You need not jump the gun and assume that something is terribly wrong with your child.

Do not start jumping the gun and making a commotion of it. This only adds to anxiety and commotion in the family.

Patiently understand the reason behind this behaviour and if it is not an extreme form as outlined above. This behaviour can be sorted with love, understanding and support.

Video Time: Expert Tip about attention seeking behavior in children


Exhausted Parent

A little acting or drama is a part of life but if your child makes this to getting benefit from you all the time, it may cause some issues.

You should talk to your child about why. Why he/she is doing this? Look for the root aspects of the issue and find out the factors involved in this behaviour.

As per, Main reason for attention seeking behaviour in kids is because children get listen 7 minutes a day off unadulterated time with their parents. Less than 7 minutes!!! Shocking!!

In Short

Behind every behaviour of your child, there is a reason. You just need to identify that reason and try to solve it with a humble and loving manner.

Every parent goes through this. Sometime or the other. We ourselves have done this to our parents. There is nothing to feel bad about it.

This does not reflect poorly on your parenting skills. You just must figure out the reason behind the behaviour and try to work around the issue and solve it. A little bit of conscious effort from your side you will successfully tide over this in no time.

Relax, listen to your child, and patiently give them reasons if you cannot oblige to their demand.

Follow the suggestion we have given which will mostly help you to get over attention seeking behaviour in kids. And the quick fic tips discussed above will help you tide over when the situation arises. Just relax and live a happy life.

We hope this blog has been helpful to you. If Yes, show us love by sharing the blog post with your friends and loved ones. Together we can make the world a better place one step at a time.

If you have any other idea or tip on how to tackle attention seeking behaviour in kids, please do share with us in your comments below. This will help us to make our blog better and above all your knowledge will benefit other parents also.

God Bless!!

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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  1. September 1, 2020

    […] HOW TO deal with ATTENTION SEEKING behaviour in kids […]

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