Attention Seeking

Attention is a basic human need. Children of all ages seek out attention by saying or doing something that results in one or more adults and/or children providing some form of interaction.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

Attention seeking child shouting into a microphone

Attention-seeking as part of normal development

Attention is a basic human need. Children of all ages seek out attention by saying or doing something that results in one or more adults and/or children providing some form of interaction. For example, a baby cries to signal to the parent that they are hungry, a child who walks up to the teacher and says ‘I need help with this’ or an upset teenager who walks up to her friend for a hug.

The attention given by others – whether positive (e.g. looking, talking, playing, helping, laughing and comforting) or negative (e.g. scolding, yelling, criticising, shaming, lecturing) or none at all in response to the child’s behaviour plays an important role in their survival, development and well-being.

Forms of attention-seeking behaviour

Attention-seeking behaviour can take many forms. It can be a child talking, seeking validation, making noises, raising a hand, clowning around, blurting out the need for someone to help, teach or watch them do something; tattling, provoking a confrontation, incessantly questioning, bullying or teasing, and telling fantastical stories or exaggerated unrealistic experiences.

Attention-seeking behaviour of concern

Some children consistently exhibit attention-seeking behaviour. Attention-seeking behaviour becomes a concern when the following occur:

  • the frequency (i.e. how often a child exhibits attention-seeking behaviour) becomes excessive,
  • the duration (i.e. how long each incident of the attention-seeking behaviour lasts) becomes excessive,
  • the intensity (i.e. the strength of the attention-seeking behaviour) escalates from minor behaviours into extreme behaviours, and
  • the attention-seeking behaviour negatively impacts the child’s participation in activities, interaction with others, their day-to-day functioning and development.

Impact of attention-seeking behaviour

When a child begins to persistently exhibit attention-seeking behaviour of concern, the climate of the context (e.g. childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary school, disability support and youth services) can change dramatically. A considerable amount of time and energy can be spent on the child showing the attention-seeking behaviour, which can have a deleterious effect on the quality of the learning experience for all the children. Research consistently shows that managing behaviour is linked to staff experiencing high levels of stress, burnout and job dissatisfaction.

Hence, attention-seeking behaviour affects everyone involved and the child who is seeking attention requires necessary help to learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Positive behaviour support resources for attention seeking behaviour

Positive Behaviour Support Framework Graphic

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) focuses on evidence-based strategies and person-centred supports that address the needs of the individual and the underlying causes of behaviours of concern, to enhance the quality of life for both the individual and those that support them.

PBS recognises that there is no single cause for attention-seeking behaviour. It is a complex behaviour that is a product of the interaction between multiple factors contributing to its development and persistence.

Attention-seeking behaviour is like the tip of the iceberg so it is essential to look beneath the surface to work out the why before we can address the problem. To understand attention-seeking behaviour we need to firstly, experience the situation from the child's point of view. Secondly,  consider the underlying emotion behind the attention-seeking behaviour (e.g. anxiety, jealousy, boredom, sadness, confusion, frustration or feeling insecure) and thirdly, recognise that the child may have difficulties with controlling and regulating their behaviour in the moment due to feeling overwhelmed by their emotions.

Behaviour Help resources are at hand:

A for Attention Seeking - Forms cover image

Download this free PDF guide

The forms contained in this pdf booklet are from the A for Attention Seeking: Positive Behaviour Support guide that can be used as part of the process of developing a PBS plan.

Download A for Attention Seeking - Forms

Which resources are right for you?


Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.


Use the practical tools (checklists, forms, and strategies) in A for Attention Seeking: Positive Behaviour Support book to develop comprehensive PBS plans that can be used to support children of all ages consistently in all settings.

This invaluable guide is useful for parents, caregivers, educators in childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary schools, disability, mental health, allied health, and supervisory professionals.


Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.


Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.


Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.


Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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