How to Deal with a Student who Craves Attention

It seems that every teacher whether in a classroom, a church, or even at home has had a similar experience – that one child who has to have constant attention.  While everyone else is quietly performing a fairly simple task, one child must have help.  Even if the teacher is aware of the child’s ability’s to complete his assignment, it seems it will never happen if she does not sit down next to the child while he does it.  Normally this is the same child who asks repeatedly to go to the restroom, or who constantly interrupts instruction to ensure he is the center of attention.  What can or should an instructor do when faced with this challenging student?

First of all, one should attempt to determine the reason the child needs attention.  Is he starved of attention at home? Does he have a low self-esteem?  There is chance his outbursts are simply due to a want for attention, but could that want actually be a need?  The instructor should also attempt to review the child’s file to discover if there is any form of attention deficit disorder or a learning disability.  The tips set forth in this article may be helpful for all of the above circumstances, but more research may need to be done if there is a situation involving learning disabilities.

The most important way to help an attention craving student is to help him or her to seek out the right kind of attention.  If this is accomplished, he will no longer act out in class, but will strive to do his work.  In order to do this, a teacher should attempt to ignore outbursts or provide punishment that will isolate him from any attention. For example, if he is acting out, his desk could be moved to a secluded location in the classroom for a short moment and all bad behavior should be ignored. Yelling or talking to the student will only encourage the behavior as the student would be receiving the attention he wants. Furthermore, the student should be rewarded for good behavior.  For example, when the teacher notices the child is working, they should immediately go the child and let them know that he is doing a good job.  This way, the child will relate obedience with receiving attention, rather than disobedience.

Another helpful tip would come into play when the child requests help with something he is more than capable of doing.  In this situation, the teacher needs to find a way to encourage the student to work on their own, while rewarding good behavior.  The teacher could say something like this, “You know what?  You are so smart I know you can figure out how to do this.  I’ll tell you what, I’m going to go back to my desk for five minutes.  If you work really hard and try to figure this out for those five minutes, I’ll come back and see how well you did.”  Using this method shows the child that they will only get attention by performing their work on their own, and not by disrupting the class.

In conclusion, when dealing with a child who seems to need attention an instructor should not starve him of it, but rather show him that attention is given when he works hard to accomplish his tasks.  Seclusion is a good disciplinary method for a child of this personality, and the best reward that could be offered to them is positive attention.  Above all, remember that reprimanding the child verbally will only worsen the situation.