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  /    /  Child Behaviour: Attention-Seeking And Jealousy

Child Behaviour: Attention-Seeking And Jealousy

Attention-seeking behaviour can occur for a number of reasons. A child may be experiencing a loss of some sort, jealousy often corresponds to a perception of lost attention or love. The feeling of not being able to control the situation can be very difficult to understand and cause a child to act out in their efforts to get what they want.

To a child, seeking negative attention is still better than no attention at all…


In an ideal world, you would have the time and resources to devote to positive reinforcement and building attachment both between an appropriate adult at school/nursery and working with your family to help them understand and meet this child’s needs at home and at school.

Younger children may have not yet developed the skills required to deal with emotions in rational ways, so try not to be overly critical of their coping mechanism. An open, empathic discussion about feelings, using simple language to help a child identify what upsets them and develop coping strategies would be valuable.

With young children, this is often most effective when done through role play or puppets.

Verbalising feelings to demonstrate how feelings should be dealt with, such as,

“I know you are angry right now, but being mean to X won’t help you feel better, and it will make him feel bad too”.

This will help children confront underlying issues.

Modelling appropriate coping strategies is also very powerful. Comments such as,

‘When I feel sad/angry/cross, it makes me feel better if I do ……’

will help a child realise that these emotions are normal and can be dealt with and, importantly, that they do not last for long.

Praising positive behaviour is very powerful so try giving this child a series of special, easy to accomplish tasks, that give you the opportunity to really praise him and show him how nice it feels to get positive attention.

This could be jobs around the classroom or at lunch or break time, but should not be at such a level that other children feel he’s being singled out for special attention as this will reinforce the benefits of bad behaviour if he’s often naughty in class.

With some children, giving them extra responsibility for helping other children can work wonders. By showing him you trust him to look after a new child, or show a visitor around, he may respond positively as his confidence and self-esteem will have received a much-needed boost.

Involving teachers or carers is a great way to manage behaviour. A home journal can be used to maintain and improve communication between home and school, so if your school doesn’t already have one.

The journal can be used to inform parents about positive aspects of the child’s day, as well as factual records of what they’ve been working on in class and what parents might like to practice or talk about with their child.

Parents can also write in it to let you know of issues arising at home. If this is a class-wide initiative no one will feel singled out and parents will know that there is an expectation of their involvement in their child’s learning.

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