HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

Ask the Experts

Help! My Child Always Wants Attention

By Dr. Ron Taffel, Family Therapist


My daughter is in trouble once a week.

She likes to get attention all the time and it interrupts the class and her work. She won't listen to the teacher at all. I have taken away her TV and restricted her to her room. What can I do to stop her wanting attention all the time and help her learn to get the right attention at the right time so she can do her work and pass?


I am going to give you a little homework about this that may make a huge change in the way things feel around the house. This suggestion has helped many other parents. Keep a brief log of the time spent with your daughter - just sharing a good moment together - not monitoring, not scheduling, not managing. Keep it for a couple of days or a week. See if you are spending a few minutes each day enjoying each other's company: reading together, playing a board game, having a relaxed dinner time. Don't blame yourself or your child if you immediately notice something is missing. Chances are, if you're like most of us, we end up spending less time connected during those better moments of childhood than we would like. If you can add just a couple of positive minutes together to look forward to, your daughter may need less of the wrong kind of attention.

Dr. Ron Taffel is a noted child and family therapist, and author of Parenting by Heart, Why Parents Disagree, Nurturing Good Children Now, The Second Family, and a guide for child professionals, Getting Through to Difficult Kids and Parents. He consults with and lectures at schools and community organizations around the country. He lives with his wife and children in New York City.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from readers

"I don't disapprove of taking TV but restricting a child to their room (presumably so you don't have to give her attention)? Seriously?"
"Seriously! I spend plenty of time---literally hours a day with my child. He is still getting in trouble at school. This is ridiculous."
"What can i do my child always is in trouble at school. He is running away from his teachers, didt'n listen them and follow the other kids when they are running and didn't listen to teachers. At home he is ok with me he listen to me obey but he is very hyper, and whe he is upset is aggressive"
"And exactly how does this help this child at school? the answer is. It doesnt because the teacher is not going to take time out to put together a log. This advice is very unhelpful"