ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Children Who Misbehave for Attention

Updated on December 4, 2012

Why Do Children Misbehave?

As a parenting educator I deal with this issue on a daily basis. The parents that I have worked with in the past often think that when their child misbehaves frequently it is simply because he or she is just a bad kid. In reality, there are a number of underlying factors that could cause a child to misbehave and appear to be a "bad" or difficult child. For most parents it is hard to look beyond the child's unruly behavior and delve deeper into underlying factors that may be causing this child to act out. Once these underlying factors are discovered, the parent can then develop an effective approach to modify their child's behavior and decrease misbehavior.

I recently worked with a parent who had two daughters, one was a year old, and the other was four. The four year old was constantly getting in trouble for being naughty. I soon realized that every time this four year old girl did something wrong, her mother would quickly snap at her and tell her what a brat she was being. When she was being good, however, the mother said nothing at all. Now, doesn't something seem wrong with this picture?

Understanding Your Child's Behavior

They key to uncovering the underlying causes of misbehavior is to fully understand your child's behaviors, both good and bad. Under what circumstances does your child behave well? Are there any specific environmental, social, or emotional factors involved? For example, if you spend a lot of time with your child and play a game with them, do they behave well for the rest of that day? On the other hand, under what circumstances does your child tend to misbehave? When you are busy and have a lot to do, are they more likely to misbehave then? If so, this could be because they are not getting enough attention from you throughout the day. Attention comes in two forms, positive and negative. A child gets negative attention when they have done something wrong and need to be disciplined for doing so. Positive attention is when the child is praised and encouraged for doing something right or being good.

Positive Vs. Negative Attention

It is difficult for a child to distinguish between positive and negative attention if he or she feels particularly attention deprived. If the child is not getting positive attention from mom or dad, the child will then start misbehaving or acting out in an effort to get negative attention because, after all, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Children crave attention from parents, and if they are not getting sufficient attention they will find other ways to get their parents attention. If this cycle of misbehaving to get mom or dad's attention happens often, it can turn into a bad habit for the child. We all know how hard it is to break a bad habit, and the same goes for a child who has become accustomed to getting attention from his or her parents by misbehaving. Sometimes children from big families may become "lost in the crowd" and have to really fight for any sort of attention from parents. I have dealt with this issue with many families that I have worked with. Often times there is a child in the family who gets less attention than others for one reason or another. This child may begin to act out to draw more attention to themselves.

Other Common Factors for Misbehavior

There are some factors that are commonly known to increase a child's misbehaviors. Having younger siblings or siblings that require more attention (i.e. physically disabled) can cause other children in the family to misbehave more frequently to get negative attention. Parent's need to be sure to pay close attention to the needs of all of their children, whether it's a teenager or a toddler. Additionally, if parent's are always very busy and have little time to spend with their child, that child may act out to get some sort of attention from his or her parents. Again, that ties into the fact that children thrive off of attention from parents or caregivers, and a lack of attention will push the child to find other methods of gaining attention from mom or dad. Parent's may not realize how much their own behavior can influence or exacerbate their child's misbehaviors. A parent is a child's first role-model, and as such the child wants to seek the approval of their parent or caregiver.

The Importance of Positive Attention and Praise

The goal when dealing with a particularly misbehaved child is to increase positive attention to decrease the child's need to frequently misbehave or act out for negative attention. If the child is in fact misbehaving due to a lack of attention from the parent or caregiver, that child will need strong positive reinforcement to break their habit of being "bad" to get attention. The rule of thumb is that for every negative there should be four positives (ratio of 1:4). So let's say you have to correct your child for not sharing his or her toys with a younger sibling. Once you have effectively addressed the issue, be mindful of finding four more opportunities to praise this child to counteract the negative attention that the child has received by being bad (again, the 1:4 ratio). This process in itself should help decrease misbehavior. It will help the child realize that they do not need to misbehave to get mom or dads attention.

Parent's are often quick to tell a child what he or she is doing wrong. This is a natural instinct as parents feel responsible to raise a respectful and competent child. If the parent is always correcting or disciplining the child, but never taking the time to praise the child for doing something right, that child will learn to seek out negative attention. However, if the parent is mindful of how often they are praising their child for doing something good, that child will be more likely to behave more often.

Think about the adult world for a moment. If an adult is constantly being praised for doing a good job at work, that adult will continue to do well because they enjoy being complimented and praised for their efforts. However, if that adult were constantly being told that they were doing things wrong and couldn't get anything right, they wouldn't feel the need to do a good job because they already feel like a failure. Now, apply this same basic concept to children, and you'll have a glimpse into how positive and negative attention can influence a child's behavior as well.

Always take time throughout the day to catch your child doing something right. Don't let these curcial moments slip away because these are the keys to improving your child's behavior. Effective praise and encouragement will also help the child develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the issues discussed in this article are 100% guaranteed. There are some biological or mental health issues that can also increase a child's misbehavior, but when it comes to misbehaving for attention, the methods discussed will make a world of difference.

When I work with parents I use curriculum that will help them develop their parenting skills. Here are some of the materials that I use as a parenting educator.

Want to Join HubPages and write about things that interest you? Sign up here

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)