Are you sure they are doing it for attention?
When a child engages in a challenging behavior a parent will often say, “He’s doing it for attention.” A resignation that the behavior is to evoke a reaction, get a rise out of the parent, or simply seek more attention.
In my observation, I find that this is rarely the case.
Yes, in some instances attention can be the reason, but in many instances it’s not.
Because we assume the intention of the behavior is to get attention, we decide that the solution is to give more attention. “They need more one-on-one time with me, I can sense it.”
When you reflect, if the bigger takeaway is that you need to be more present and engaged with your kids, that’s great and it should be considered. But you still need to address the challenging behavior more specifically.
Go deeper. Consider what value the behavior has to your child. Meaning, what is the gain for your child? What are they getting out of it? Are they acting out to avoid or escape a task they don’t want to do (i.e. Do challenging behaviors arise around bedtime or homework)? Is it to gain access to a desired item or activity? In the past has their strong protest gained them access to something valuable?
These are questions you want to consider more specifically so you can address the challenging behavior. Again, it could be attention, but don’t just accept that as the reason. It’s usually not the “why” behind the behavior, and it won’t lead you to the solution.
P.S. Mothers specifically will name their lack of attention as the reason. This is rooted in the societal pressures that women adhere to: be the best, mom, wife, partner, sister, daughter, etc. When there is a problem, mothers are quick to point the finger at themselves and assume blame. Recognize this as a larger problem. More to come in the next Parenting Skimmed.