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Addicted to Attention?

Can parenting coach Susan help this local mom detox her son's attention addiction and salvage the rest of summer break?

Dear Susan,

I am at my wit’s end!  My school-aged son constantly needs my attention. Summer’s here and I just don’t think I can take this behavior all summer long! HELP!

Sincerely,

Running on Empty in Atlanta

Dear Running,

Well, at least you’re in good company!  I get a lot of requests for help with this “attention addiction” children seem to have.  My recommendation is immediate detox (no tapering off!).  Starting tonight, ignore your son.  If you are reading a book and he wants your attention, simply say “You do not need a mother right now.  Go find something to do or I’ll find you something to do.  Run along, now.”  And continue reading.  If he continues to beg for your attention, send him to his room for the remainder of the day and make his bedtime for the rest of the week 2 hours early.  You need to treat this problem swiftly and strongly to break the addiction your son has on you.  Within 2 weeks, you’ll enjoy more free time and, most importantly, your son will learn that he can entertain himself!

One note:  you may find that you have been enabling your son’s behavior by doing too much for him.  Consider increasing your son’s household responsibilities and decreasing your input on homework, activities, etc. and things may improve even faster.

Good luck and let me know how things are in a couple of weeks!

Susan

susan@ParentCoachAtlanta.com

www.ParentCoachAtlanta.com

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LA June 22, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Susan, your logic suggests that you understand the reasons behind the child's craving attention. It seems to me that a wiser and compassionate approach to dealing with this might be discuss the situation with the child and figure out why they need the constant attention and address the underlying cause. If the child has insecurities about the parent's love for them, suddenly ignoring the child without any explanation, might just make matters worse.
Susan Eppley June 22, 2012 at 02:25 PM
LA, Thanks for your comment. I don't assume I know the "why" of the child's behavior. What I suggest is a way to prevent the misbehavior (begging for constant attention). And I disagree that it is "wiser" to talk to children about their "needs." Children feel they "need" a lot that they don't. It's a parent's job to differentiate between their child's needs and wants. This mother's son wants constant attention but he does not need it. Not even an infant needs constant attention! And, I feel the wise approach is to allow children a lot of freedom from adult intervention and micro management! However, today, children are overly dependent on their parents for permission and approval and I feel it is more compassionate to allow children the freedom to explore, discover, and learn without a parent or caregiver constantly providing management, feedback, and opinion.
LA June 22, 2012 at 02:48 PM
All I'm saying is that something is driving this behavior and it would be better to figure out what that is before giving your kid the silent treatment.
LA June 22, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Also, in determining the reason for the behavior, talking to the child about it couldn't hurt. It probably won't be the only thing that helps you decide what to to, but if they're stressed out about something, it would be good to know what it is.
Susan Eppley June 23, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I agree that it is GOOD to talk to your children! Absolutely. Parents might not always be able to determine what drives our child's behavior so parents must do what they feel is best for the child, even if the child doesn't agree.
ES June 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Susan is absolutely right on track. See the recent New Yorker book review: www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/07/02/120702crbo_books_kolbert about American children versus other cultures.... I am older and will be dead by the time the current crop come of age.... frankly I am grateful for that.
Susan Eppley June 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM
ES, Thank you for posting that article. You get it! The mission of Parent Coach Atlanta is to work toward reversing the, as John Rosemond puts it, "post-modern psychological parenting" and help parents get back into the driver's seat of their families. As JR often says "A well behaved child is a happy child."
Ms. June 27, 2012 at 01:55 PM
How old is the child in question? Good review overall (though obviously full of extremes), but I have to call bs on a 3 year old "making cupcakes by herself."

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