There are many sorts of attention seeking behaviors, but one is known to push the buttons of most parents out there, and that’s when you simply can’t help!
“Why do the kids need me the most when I’m busy and can’t help”?
This brilliant question was asked in my Facebook group, and indeed – it’s a struggle! Just when you’re on the toilet, on the phone during a critical conversation, have your hands all dipped in ground meat, or in any other way not accessible – that’s when they need you!
And it happens multiple times a day, every day.
So Why do Kids Exhibit Attention Seeking Behaviors?
Let’s start from the beginning – human beings are driven by attachment and connection. Thriving attachments are the main factor in our happiness and all we seek. Grown-up, modern life, however, changed that. We’ve shifted our focus from connection to success in the past two centuries, even if success means something different for each person. Children, however, don’t yet have “other” goals; connection is the only thing children strive for.
When you are on the phone, toilet, cooking, or otherwise unavailable to your child – they sense it. They immediately feel the attachment void, and their drive to fill that void with you, and only you, creates these situations.
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The attachment void exists within each child, each human being. Because life, let’s admit it, is a process of separation. It starts with birth, then daycare, then college. Then, the older we get – the further away we move from each other.
Young children are wired to fill this void, to prevent it from widening, and they seek you adamantly. When you say that you can’t, you deepen the void. If you do that multiple times a day (like most of us need to), your child will begin to feel a real sense of separation, which will increase his need for you and the amount of connection-seeking behaviors.
I guess you’re now asking yourself what to do, and the “mommy can!” title is confusing you because you can’t, really. So let me explain.
Here’s what mommy can do: mommy can prevent that void from existing!
Take a few days to notice when these attachment voids take place. Equipped with this knowledge, you’d be able to create the connection BEFORE your child has the chance to experience the attachment void.
Connect Before You Disconnect
Come close to your child and touch them. Physical touch releases oxytocin that promotes the sense of connection and well-being and decreases cortisol that promotes stress.
Make eye contact and say something about what your child is doing. This will increase the sense of attachment.
“Wow, you built a beautiful Lego castle here! You seem so focused”!
Then let your child know you’d be away for a few minutes and offer what I call a “void-filler”:
“I want a few minutes to talk to Aunt Mimi. Do you need me to get you a drink or a snack before I call her”?
This little offer (and offering) builds a bridge between your child and you when you are gone.
Consistency is Key
The best part about this strategy to dealing with attention seeking behaviors is that it doesn’t only work to allow you the time you need to take care of yourself (or the house, or Aunt Mimi), but it also works to promote the sense of attachment between you and your child in the long run. In other words – the more you’ll practice this, the less attachment void your child will experience. This means that your child’s security in your attachment will grow, and they will not need to seek you so adamantly.
Give this tip a try, join my group and tell me all about it 🙂