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3 Tips to Decrease Attention Seeking Behavior

I did a quick search on Pinterest for how to decrease attention seeking behavior. Every pin brought me to a regurgitation of the last.

-Catch students being “good”

-Show them appropriate coping strategies

-Ignore the behavior

And yes to all of that!

But, and I feel like a broken record here, it’s so much more complex than just that.

(which is why blogging feels so tricky to me sometimes…like, can I just come to your school and show you what I mean? If yes, fill out this contact form!)

So today I’m giving you 3 ways to reduce that annoying attention seeking behavior.

Here we go!

  1. Ignore…kinda

  2. Give attention in positive ways…build, build, build

  3. Tap into emotional intelligence…why the hell is this even happening!?

Now, remember, behavior management isn’t linear.

These tips are NOT meant to be done in order necessarily, but rather, cyclically.

Each of these steps builds on one another and is meant to wrap the student with support, rather than strip it, deny it, or replace it.

Oh, and as always, these strategies have to work in your classroom. So, take them, tweak them, and see how you can implement them into YOUR behavior management system.

1) Ignore…kinda

I think we’ve all heard someone in the behavior space tell

If you see the behavior starting, don’t simply ignore it, but dive into it!

What do I mean?

As soon as you see attention seeking behavior starting, take that as your cue to go in!

Yes, some ‘experts’ may say don’t do this because then you’re reinforcing the behavior, but hear me out.

There’s a sweet spot when intervening with a behavior.

The Sweet Spot

You can find it right between when the student begins to get dysregulated, upset, and exhibits those preliminary signs (I call these thunder) AND the full out target behavior.

THAT’S the sweet spot, baby!

If you’re able to identify it and intervene in that space, you’re making bigggg progress, friend.


Well, let’s look at it from a neuroscience perspective.

Behavior is really just a pattern. Routes your brain takes that it’s been familiarized with.

If we interrupt that cycle right when it first begins, by intervening with more appropriate behaviors or coping strategies, we’re retraining the brain. It’s super important to do this right when the student begins showing signs of dysregulation, because that’s when the pattern starts.

So, next time an attention seeking behavior rears its ugly head, try to intervene in that sweet spot!

If the new strategy you’re implementing isn’t accepted in that moment and we go full on spider-man, then let it go.

Ignore the behavior, while regularly reminding the student of the option to take the safer coping strategy.

2 + 3) Give attention in positive ways…build, build, build & Emotional Intelligence

Build those skills, y’all-but ask your student how first!

Let’s face it…we allll want attention.

When I get super in my feels, thinking my husband isn’t paying enough attention to me, what do I do?

Revert to old whiny high-school-girl, woe-is-me, behavior.

Don’t act like you haven’t played that card either! (mhm)

The days when I’ve been able to tell my husband exactly what I really want and need from him (and vice versa), those are the days we’re smooth sailing!

…Because we’ve taught each other how to show up for the other.

Your students are NO different.

ASK them how they want you to show up for them:

What makes them feel cared for in your classroom?

When do they feel like people are the nicest to them?

Who makes them the happiest in the class?

What kind of attention do they prefer? (from you, peers, silly, serious, etc.)

Ask them and build on that! Tie in coping strategies, and preventative measures that support the student in the way THEY need to feel seen and heard - not just how WE think they should be getting attention!

Hopefully those tips provide you with a little more context no how to actually implement and why.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any specific questions regarding attention-seeking behavior!

Can't wait to hear,


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