Attention Seeking

That phrase has one of the most negative connotations. People tend to see it as annoying, worthy of teasing, and pointless. But that’s not the case.

In my Early Childhood Education classes one of the things we talk about is attention seeking. The children who act out all the time and push all your buttons. The children that make you long for home and a glass of your favorite beverage. Those are the children who need you. They need attention. Positive, constructive attention. They need you to see them when they’re being good. They need you to pay attention to them for no reason. Ignoring them will make it worse. Reacting only to the negative will continue the actions, and even make them worse. You have to purposely praise them when they do something good. When they are looking for attention and aren’t hitting, pushing, yelling, running away, etc. Give it to them. Even if it’s still not in a way they should be looking for attention, if it’s an improvement acknowledge it.

Children (and people in general) want attention. The more confident in yourself you are the less important the attention is to your overall life. But attention from other human beings is still something most people want to some degree. And I don’t think that should have a negative connotation. We are social creatures. Babies have a higher mortality rate if they’re not given physical contact. You can give them all the nutrition they need and a warm bed to sleep, but if they don’t receive physical touch they will “fail to thrive”. Human beings need attention. It is just as important as food and shelter.

So based on that it makes sense that if people aren’t receiving the attention they need they will act out. Regardless of age. They need attention, and how you react determines the continued relationship. If they act out and you respond but don’t respond when they quietly try to get help then now they know that they have to over react to gain your attention. But if you show them that when they ask for attention you’ll respond, they will learn the over reacting is not necessary. Even if you’re busy, you can delegate. Set a specific day or time when you can talk, and stick to that day. Ask if there’s anyone else they’re comfortable talking to and help them reach out.

I’m desperately trying to find balance in my life. I don’t like being seen as an attention seeker. But, as earlier stated, people ignore me. So when I need help to regulate myself no one pays attention. They’re too busy. But if no help comes then I will spiral down to starting to make plans to commit suicide. And then all the sudden people care. And I feel like crap. I don’t want people to only care about me when I’m close to death. And I feel pathetic. I start wondering if I’m suicidal just for the attention. (I’m not. But in those moments my brain will use everything it can to break me down and keep me from reaching out.)

I’m still going for the walk I promised I would today. But today is a bad day. My thoughts are racing. My stomach feels sick. I’ve already had to use my breathing exercises at least 3 times to calm myself away from an anxiety attack. And I have no one to talk to. Hopefully the walk will help me before I get home. Because if not I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop myself from self harming.


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