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Author Topic: Kids who seek negative attention  (Read 7749 times)

Moonbeam

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Kids who seek negative attention
« on: October 01, 2012, 02:24:55 pm »

For quite a long time now I have been trying to figure out why my son seems to want/need negative attention from us. This first became apparent when he was about a year-old. Let me provide an example. If I tell DD to stop stabbing her fork into the table, DS will immediately pick up his fork and begin to stab the table. It doesn't matter what DD is getting in trouble for, he wants in on the trouble, too. You can imagine how this boggles my mind. Reflecting over my own childhood, I would tell you that I would have rather been left alone than face an angry parent. I believe I was smart enough to know not to do the very thing my brother just got in trouble over!

After discussing this with my BFF who is dealing with the same concerns regarding one of her sons, she forwarded a couple of links to two very brief articles that covers this issue. Though it's certainly easy to feel that we're the only ones facing "X" issue, it's somewhat comforting to know that other parents are just as frustrated or confused, and obviously concerned about the same things we are facing.

The articles were written by a mother of seven children who is also a children's author. She too was mystified as to why a child would *want* negative attention from their parents. Hope this helps someone as much as it has given me some insight and practical applications.

When Your Kid THRIVES on Negative Attention
http://special-needs.families.com/blog/when-your-kid-thrives-on-negative-attention#

Negative Reaction Addiction - Could Your Child Have It?
http://special-needs.families.com/blog/negative-reaction-addiction-could-your-child-have-it
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securitysix

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Re: Kids who seek negative attention
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 04:28:41 pm »

I have no idea why kids would seek negative attention.  That said, I did when I was a youngster.  I would constantly reach for stuff on tables knowing I wasn't supposed to reach for it.  Mom would slap my hand to try to get me to stop.  It, of course, didn't work.  So she'd keep slapping my hand and I'd keep reaching for whatever it was until she had slapped that hand red.  Then I would switch hands and repeat the process.  The record, as she reckons it, is 45 minutes of doing this with me laughing the whole time. 

I have no idea why I did that sort of thing, but I eventually outgrew it. 
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MamaLiberty

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Re: Kids who seek negative attention
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2012, 04:53:03 pm »

I have no idea why I did that sort of thing, but I eventually outgrew it.

Yes, very lucky to survive until you outgrew it... My youngest was much like that... there were days...  :)
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Mr. Dare

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Re: Kids who seek negative attention
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2012, 05:06:47 pm »

   This may or may not work, but it's worth a try... Before calling out the sibling on negative behavior, try some positive reinforcement with the younger son. If you give the positive reinforcement first, it may settle his mind that he has gotten his attention first for being good, then try to deal with the other in a time out. In your hypothetical example of the dinner fork you could try something like "Johnny you are a good boy for eating your vegetables, I like it when you do that!", Then deal with the fork stabber (you might have to take her fork while speaking to the brother to save your table top) by placing her in time out in the next room. Stay with the son for several minutes before going to speak with the sibling. This lets both children know that to get your attention first, they should use good behavior. With very young children 5 minutes is an eternity, those few minutes of rewarding good behavior with positive attention will probably be more effective than grounding them for a week. Kids tend to forget why they are being punished if the time out lasts too long.
   If you and DH can double team the brood it's even better, one deals with the transgressor while the other does something fun (small is is fine, maybe tell a "knock knock joke" or something) with the kids who have been good it will be much more effective. Be sure to let young children return to the family as soon as their behavior calms down. This lets them know again that you love them and want them to return to the fold when they can behave. If you have to go into extended management of a more serious behavior problem, try and do it in private, and be sure to do something nice for the other kids like giving them a game to play or an occasional cookie so they don't feel like they are not getting any attention while you deal with the problem child.
   Kids who demand negative attention are most likely just demanding attention period. Some are thrill seekers though and enjoy the drama. The best thing you can do either way is limit the drama. It can be it's own reward, or be construed as attention. Both set a bad precedent and encourage misbehavior.
   Hope this helps!
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EwB

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Re: Kids who seek negative attention
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2012, 11:21:02 am »

Mr. Dare has some very salient points. 

We use the double team method all the time (although we are still outnumbered 5 to 1 ).  Determining root cause for behaviour is not always easy, but getting the desired outcome and changes will require that you identify cause.  Each child is different ( extremely so in our case), so you need to be flexible when trying to determine what works.  Flexibility does not imply inconsistency, children need to be able to have expected outcomes for given events.  If you don't provide that, you will have great difficultly in creating the desired cause and effect relationship in their minds.

EwB
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MamaLiberty

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Re: Kids who seek negative attention
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2012, 12:18:18 pm »

Indeed, the team approach is probably the best. As a single mother, of course, that wasn't an option. But it was still far, far better than before the divorce when my "husband" did everything he could to counteract and thwart every effort I made and contradicted every word I said...  My sons were very confused about it all for quite some time after we left him. :(
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