Connection is one of our basic human needs. We all want and need to feel connected to others and as adults we are able to communicate our needs but often children don’t have the language to communicate theirs, so will find other ways.
Children will work very hard to get your attention and become very well skilled at figuring out the best way. They may do this in very endearing ways such as giving you hugs and smiles, telling a joke or just making a funny face. At others times their behaviour may not be so endearing.
This behaviour is often named as ‘attention seeking’ and can include a list of undesirable behaviours such as hitting, whining, tantrums, seeking praise (the look at me kind) and defiance. If you ignore this behaviour, chances are it gets louder and more intense. Children work so hard to form a connection because it is a legitimate need for them to grow well and thrive.
Change your language and it changes your perception of the situation. Instead of labelling it as attention seeking use the term connection seeking. All behaviour serves a purpose and children are typically just acting as they feel inside.
How can you meet your child’s need and limit unwanted behaviour?
Time out, ignoring the behaviour and taking away toys just won’t cut it. We need to get to the root cause of the behaviour and acknowledge how a child is feeling if we really want to eliminate the undesirable behaviour. By helping your child to understand their feelings and decisions you allow your child to see that they can choose different behaviours next time they feel like this.
Plan time together
Schedule in time to intentionally connect with your child. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, it could be reading a book together, going for a walk, cooking, teaching them a new skill. Be fully present and not only will this help build a connection it will also strengthen your relationship.
Praise, praise, praise
It’s so easy just to notice the unwanted behaviour. Instead notice when your child is seeking connection in a healthy way such as telling you a story or coming to you for a hug. Try to be present in these moments and give them your undivided attention and it will encourage them to use this type of behaviour for seeking connection in the future
Give you child attention freely and intentionally and give them more than you think they need. It can be simple things such as a quick hug, high five or ruffle their hair. You should notice a decrease in unwanted behaviours the more you do this.
Rachel Plant, Ollie Coach
Having worked with children in an educational setting for 16 years Rachel decided to take her career in a new direction and trained as a coach, specialising in working with children and families.
Rachel also works with adults, empowering them to take control of their own lives using all the resources they already have within them.
To get in contact with Rachel please email Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Ollie and his Super Powers and how to become an Ollie Coach go to https://www.ollieandhissuperpowers.com/pages/about-us