The Attention Seekers

Ask the Expert
Q. How do I know if my child is being disobedient just to get my attention, and what should I do about it?

I think the key to this answer lies in understanding your child's motivation. When my own children were small, one daughter in particular required extra attention. It seemed when I was at my busiest, she would find constant trouble. She might color the walls, pick a fight, or simply follow me around whining. Her misbehavior was simply a ploy to get my attention back on her. I soon realized that I could change her behavior by giving her my undivided attention for a certain period of time before I started the other items on my agenda each day. I began my morning by enjoying whatever activities she enjoyed. We had discussed that once the timer went off, it was Mommy's turn for "work time". This turn-taking would continue through out the day. When any misbehavior occurred, it would result in a "time out" in another room. When her behavior was good, it meant I could complete my work faster and spend more time with her. Eventually, this strategy curbed her misbehavior, because she realized that her poor behavior was not successful in acquiring more time with Mommy. The bottom line here is recognizing the motivation behind your child's actions. Once you determine that motivation, look for positive ways to fulfill that need elsewhere in their daily routine.

If you have a question about parenting or early childhood development, feel free to leave it as a comment here. We'd love to include it as a future "Ask the Expert" post!

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