Attention Seeking Behaviours

The first thing to remember when you feel that a CYP is displaying attention seeking behaviour is that it is a form of communication. Your job as the adult is to work out what the CYP is trying to say to you through their behaviour. Sometimes, the need for attention can culminate in any attention being craved, including negative attention. It is the aim to change this for the CYP and give attention for positive reasons.

As with any behaviour that you may find challenging, check the underlying need; use the roadmap of support to ensure that you have explored common reasons for attention seeking behaviours.

Disruptive behaviours

  • Use planned ignoring. Ignore the CYP disrupting and praise a CYP nearby who is behaving appropriately

  • Remember, “What gets attention will increase.” Acknowledge and reinforce appropriate behaviour

  • Reprimand when away from peers

  • Do not get into a powerplay scenario - walk away

  • Use language that expects compliance such as, 'Stop the chatter, thank you'

  • Use pre agreed consequences for common disruptive traits

  • Develop a whole class / year group reward system

  • Consider the use of the 'secret student'

Poor social and emotional understanding

  • Teach other CYP to use “I” statements: “I like you Ernie, but I don’t like it when you push in the line.”

  • Teach friendship skills to enable the CYP to make and maintain relationships

  • Pair with good role model - don't pick the model pupil, use a less intimidating CYP!

  • Use a ‘work-buddy’ system


  • Make them feel valuable by organising a special job or responsibility.

  • Teach the CYP new skills e.g. skipping, so they experience success

  • Label the behaviour and not the CYP as this will keep their self-esteem intact

  • Use ‘I’ statements and acknowledge feelings: “When you talk during story time, I feel very sad for the other children who cannot hear the story.”