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Seeing Through Your Child's Eyes

Do you know any kids (or adults) who can never seem to get enough attention? Attention seeking behavior is usually a result of confusion about how to fit in, how to be important. Sometimes kids get the mistaken idea that they only "count" when they are being noticed or served. When left alone, they feel left out or invisible.

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When "David" was little, his parents sometimes had adult conversations at the table. He would begin using his worst table manners, spill things and cause a lot of distraction. At a family meeting, his mom brought up the possibility that he was feeling left out of the conversation at meal time. David instantly agreed. Together they brainstormed ideas for things he could do or say when this happened. After hearing all the suggestions, David decided he would announce " I am feeling left out!" when this happened. His parents agreed to acknowledge this and let him know if they needed any more time to cover their discussion, could include him in it, or ask him for a topic everyone could discuss. David loved making this announcement and getting the response he wanted- being included. His table manners improved dramatically, with out even having been mentioned.

Attention seeking behaviors are often unconscious, but they have a purpose! As a parent, teacher or boss you can recognize this behavior if you feel irritated, annoyed or worried. You might feel like you are shooing flies. The behavior continues but doesn't escalate.

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Some good ways to deal with "undue attention" are:

* Be sure and make regular dates for "special time" with your child.
* Offer two reasonable choices as alternatives to the inappropriate behavior.
* Take action, don't continue to engage by doing a lot of talking and explaining.
* Remember to avoid humiliation and pointing out mistakes.

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