desire for attention is a basic human need. Ask 19-year-old
gunman, Robert A. Hawkins, in the Omaha, Nebraska shooting.
He killed eight people so that "now I'll be famous." He knew
he'll be dead yet he was desperate for attention; he got it
in the worst way possible, by taking others with him. His
story just highlighted the fact that our children need
are three primary ways for our children to get our
attention: Negatively, positively and directly.
Children that do negative things will get attention. Babies
cry for attention and to make their needs known. Crying is
an annoying sound, but that's the only way babies know how
to communicate their needs. Some of us never grow out of
that way of dealing with their needs.
small child can throw a tantrum or make a mess and they'll
get their attention - albeit negatively. On a teenage level
- well it almost is beyond the scope of the human
imagination what teens dream up or get involved in to get
attention negatively. There are many other ways that
children get negative attention such as complaining,
criticizing and taunting.
Though your child will sometimes get attention this way,
some parents won't be manipulated into responding because
they expect better and the child won't get the attention
Another way to get attention is
positively - by trying by
trying to please people. People pleasers will go out of
their way to do whatever they think will satisfy others and
earn them attention. Some examples could be cleaning up a
mess to please their mother, doing well on an exam to please
their parents or falsely complimenting others because they
think it will get them some more attention.
Though this might seem like a good way to get attention
because it is asking in a positive way, it doesn't always
guarantee the results we want because the action can
sometimes be ignored. The child who comes home with a
perfect score on his test to be signed might be disappointed
that his mother is distracted with the other children and
doesn't comment on the grade. The boy that cleans the shed
to please his father might be let down when his father
doesn't notice and remark about the job.
last way to get attention is the most powerful: By directly
asking for it. A child who comes home and says, "I had a
rough day, I need some time to talk, I need a hug" is asking
for attention in the healthiest way possible of all. That
child is also more likely to get the time and the attention
they want than one who comes home and throws a tantrum.
Asking for the attention one needs is not a guarantee -
there's always a chance one will be told, "I know darling,
but it has to wait" - nonetheless that gives the greatest
chance of getting what we're asking for.
big drawback to asking for attention directly is that if the
overture is rejected it can be extremely painful.
smart parent will ignore the negative attention seeking,
cash in on the positive attention seeking, but most of all
train our children to recognize their need for attention and
ask for it directly. Of course, a direct request has to be
responded to graciously and abundantly.
three means of getting attention and all their ramifications
apply to every relationship - particularly marriage - where
each spouse is looking to receive attention from their
sad that Robert Hawkins felt he had to take other human
lives to get the attention he deserved. Most people don't
feel that they need to go to such extremes. Had Robert
learned to ask for attention in a more healthy way his nine
victims would be living today.