Anyone who has been around children knows that they constantly seek attention. When there is a family gathering, they try to jump in the conversation and do silly things to draw attention. No matter how much attention you give to them, it is never enough. They want more. When you have guests or are in a hurry, somehow they seek more attention. Sometimes it can be exasperating for parents. How much is enough?
Some kids need a lot of attention and some less. All of them need far more than what you think they need. They feel emotionally secure when their attention needs are met. This is how they establish their sense of self. Getting attention assures them that their existence matters. When they do not get enough attention to satisfy their emotional needs, they try to get attention in negative ways. Though it is illogical for adults, children would rather have negative attention than no attention at all. They are like heat seeking missiles. They seek attention no matter what cost even when it leads to destruction.
In a family where there is a child getting negative attention from parents, it can drain the parents of their energy preventing the other children from getting enough attention. The same phenomenon can be seen in classrooms. Naughty students consume much of the teacher’s attention and decrease the attention paid to better-behaved students. Teachers are exhausted by wild students and there is no more energy left for good students. Children can be less motivated to behave properly if they see poorly behaving children getting a lot more attention.
It is important for parents, teachers and other caregivers to understand this dynamic. Rather than being sucked into a negative attention spiral, make an effort to give positive attention. Once the negative dynamic is set, it is not easy to turn around. However, with conscious efforts, it is possible to end the vicious cycle of negative attention. We support you through the tough journey of turning around. Isn’t it priceless having peaceful family dinners and having a positive relationship with your children? A sun-seeking sunflower is better than a heat-seeking missile.