Teaching At Its Best
Strategies for Attention Seeking Behaviors

Strategies for Attention Seeking Behaviors

It’s frustrating when your students are constantly misbehaving in order to get your attention or the attention of their classmates. Having to repeatedly address their calling out, noise making and peer agitating behaviors is tiring and presents a major challenge to your teaching process.

I want to shed some light on students who misbehave to get attention and what you can do about it.

Attention-Seeking Behaviors


The Characteristics

Some of the attributes of students motivated by getting attention are:

Like to get response from others– They enjoy how their behavior affects others.
Like to be the center of attention – They do not like to share the spotlight.
They need an audience– It doesn’t work them unless someone watching or paying attention.
They like to perform -(can we say DRAMA)- A lot of times, these students can take things over-the-top unnecessarily.


The Student’s Goal

For the most part, these students have one main goal:

To get attention from others, teacher, peers


Possible Reasons for this Behavior

Less attention in other areas of life– This student may not be getting the attention they need away from school.
Makes them feel important or valuable– Some student may feel that they matter, only when given that extra-attention


How this affects your classroom

Influences other students’ behavior
Prevents you from teaching
Disrupts the class


Strategies for the Student

Give a lot of attention for appropriate behavior– Catch your student behaving responsibly and celebrate and encourage to the max.

Teach replacement behaviors– Show your student appropriate ways to get attention.

Set up opportunities to get attention appropriately– Create situations where your student can get natural (built in) attention via classroom job or responsibilities (ex: Class comedian – read or tell teacher approved joke of the day)

Give attention to students demonstrating positive behavior as a cue– Pay attention to on-task students to give your misbehaving student a hint on what behavior gets your attention.

Planned ignoring– Let the student know that the negative attention-seeking behavior is not ok and will be be ignored.  Be specific on which attention-seeking behavior is ok and make sure to give plenty attention when that desired  behavior is demonstrated.

Allow for chill out – When behaviors get out of control, provide an opportunity for the child to go to an separate area within the classroom to calm-down and refocus.


Strategies for You

Accept that your student needs more attention than the norm.- sometimes no matter how much attention we give, that bucket will never get full.  That’s ok.  Do what you can and accept their need.


I’m not going to lie to you.  A student who displays problematic attention-seeking behaviors is a lot of work.  Choose 1-3 strategies, be consistent and you will see your behavior management workload decrease.

This guest post was written by Michele Holiday and was originally published on her website at www.feedtheirneeds.com.

Micheles is a Behavior Coach and Trainer. She helps teachers manage their classrooms and student behaviors. She also helps schools reduce behavior incidents and referrals by equipping their teachers with strong classroom and behavior management skills.

Visit her website for more posts in her Behavior Strategies Series where she focuses on the 4 main functions of behavior and what you can do to prevent them from taking over your classroom.

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