How to Handle Attention-Seeking Behavior – The Elemy Learning Studio

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The article describes how to help a student with attention-seeking behavior. It talks about the need for better understanding of what causes this behavior and giving your child’s teacher more support during these moments

Attention-seeking behavior is a common issue among children on the autism spectrum. Evidence-based interventions for attention-seeking behavior are essential in helping children with this condition to develop appropriate self-regulation skills.


It is usual to engage in attention-seeking conduct. Attempting to catch someone’s attention may be done in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.

Children who want to perform well in school, for example, often want positive reinforcement for excellent conduct, which is a sort of functional attention seeking. Tantrums, on the other hand, are often a kind of dysfunctional attention seeking in which a youngster attempts to get attention via bad behavior.

Attention-seeking behaviors in children with autism are common, and they need assistance in handling them. Children’s attention-seeking habits may be managed by spending deliberate quality time with them, avoiding undesirable behaviors, and encouraging good ones. Mindfulness and being more aware of one’s own thoughts and behaviors might help adults.

In people with autism, attention-seeking behaviors must frequently be handled differently.

What is the definition of attention-seeking behavior?

Any activity in which a person tries to acquire acknowledgment from another person is considered an attention-seeking behavior. Parents and caregivers are often involved in the lives of children, whereas classmates, colleagues, and family members are frequently involved in the lives of adults.

Attention-seeking habits aren’t always terrible. For accomplishing something excellent, children and adults often desire praise and acknowledgment.

Attention-seeking activities that need management and control are often seen as unhealthy. They may be damaging, challenging, and even hazardous.

These are some instances of autistic children’s problematic attention-seeking behaviors:

  • Jumping, bouncing, and dancing
  • Being obnoxious
  • Having a temper tantrum
  • Crying or feigning tears
  • Acting as though a task is impossible is a bad habit to get into.
  • Whining
  • Taking off or bolting
  • Head thumping, hair pulling, and tossing the body down are examples of self-harm.
  • Hitting, kicking, biting, or striking out at others are all examples of violence.

Adults who crave attention are often motivated by poor self-esteem, jealousy, or loneliness. They may consist of the following:

  • Controversial behaviors intended to elicit a response
  • I’m looking for compliments to receive attention and affirmation, therefore I’m fishing for them.
  • Exaggerating and embellishing tales in order to win pity or appreciation
  • Creating the appearance of being unable to perform a job

Attention-Seeking Behavior & Autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disease characterized by speech and social interaction impairments. Repetitive and restricting behaviors are common among people with autism. Nearly 40% of those diagnosed with autism are nonverbal.

A large majority of them also have learning disabilities, mental health issues, and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (ADHD). People with autism often engage in attention-seeking activities.

It’s crucial to think about safety while dealing with attention-seeking behaviors in someone with autism. These behavioral habits may be hazardous to oneself or others, and they must be addressed as such. If a youngster is prone to bolting from safety when left alone, for example, provisions must be made to guarantee that they are unable to leave the safe area.

Attention-seeking behaviors may be managed through preventive and proactive tactics and actions, as well as reactive strategies and actions. Proactive techniques are approaches for preventing undesirable attention-seeking behaviors from starting in the first place. Once they’ve happened, reactive techniques may assist you deal with them.

Managing Children’s Attention-Seeking Behavior

When a child’s attention-seeking behavior is annoying and upsetting, parents can frequently control it by using some tried-and-true proactive and reactive tactics.

There are a number of techniques that may be used to reduce and regulate attention-seeking behavior, including the following:

  • Ignore a few troubling habits. This might be difficult, but if you don’t give the kid the attention they want – scolding or bad attention is still attention — they will frequently stop doing the unpleasant things. If the child’s activities endanger them or others, try to keep your contact with them to a minimum while you remove them from the situation and into safety – without reprimanding them. Maintaining consistency in your behaviors is critical.
  • Recognize and reward proper conduct. This strategy may be used both in a proactive and reactive manner. For instance, if a kid is acting out and you ignore the bad behavior, and they begin to engage in good activities again, reward them for it. Praise good activities before a kid acts out as a preventative step might help them act out less since they are already getting attention.
  • Make use of diversions. Redirecting a child’s attention to anything else might help avoid or limit dysfunctional attention-seeking behaviors, even if you know that specific circumstances or events generally trigger these behaviors.
  • Recognize the source of the problem. You can better avoid or decrease the recurrence of negative attention-seeking behaviors if you understand what causes them. If you know your kid behaves badly when overstimulated, for example, attempt to avoid this circumstance.
  • Schedule quality time on a regular basis. This proactive method might help your youngster realize that they will have your undivided attention at a certain period each day to do something they like. Set clear expectations and limits for this time, and actually connect with the youngster. They will be aware of their importance and will be able to exert some influence.

It’s critical to reinforce good behaviors and activities with praise and prizes while ignoring problematic ones while helping a kid with autism manage attention-seeking habits.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a kind of treatment that focuses on reinforcing good behaviors while also addressing destructive and nonfunctional ones. Parents may learn new and successful ways for regulating attention-seeking behaviors while enhancing social relations and communication skills in children with autism with the aid of a qualified therapist.

Adults & Attention-Seeking Behavior

Mindfulness may assist adults with autism deal with dysfunctional and attention-seeking behaviors. A person may learn to control their behaviors by being more aware of their body and emotions, and how their link impacts responses and actions. Therapy methods, such as behavioral and movement therapies, may teach mindfulness techniques.

Adults’ attention-seeking habits are often caused by a lack of self-esteem. Learning to connect with oneself and find contentment inside oneself might assist to reduce bad habits like these. This is something that life skills training and therapy therapies may assist with. Therapists can assist individuals with autism in recognizing and dealing with problematic attention-seeking behaviors.

Friends and family members of autistic people who engage in attention-seeking activities may use proactive and reactive methods similar to those employed by children. For example, ignoring undesirable behaviors while encouraging or reinforcing favorable ones is still beneficial.

Quality time and concentrated attention may help autistic people feel understood and valuable while reducing attention-seeking behaviors.


Attention-seeking behavior is a common problem for children on the autism spectrum. It can be difficult to know what to do when this behavior starts, but there are examples of replacement behaviors for attention-seeking that you can use instead.

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