O.M.G.

Ok. Let me tell you how ‘as a behaviorist’ I would really react to a child wanting attention (and doing something naughty to get it).

First- I would ask “Am I sure he really wants attention” A  problem I often see is people assuming the wrong motivation to a child’s behavior. So, I would start by confirming that is in fact what the child wants.

Next- In that moment I would simply give the child a more appropriate way of getting attention. It would be important that I give them a skill that matches their chronological and developmental age and is going to be something they can use more efficiently than the negative behavior. “Hey buddy- blowing that whistle hurts my ears. If you want my attention you can say ‘Look at this’ or you can bring my your toy and show it to me.” “Here lets try it…”

Then- Moving forward I am going to look at the child’s environment . Is it that he just happened to want mommy’s attention in that moment and didn’t know how to get it appropriately or does he really need more mommy time in general. I would look at strategies to address his underlying need/motivation for the behavior t be sure his needs are met.

Also- If all of his needs are met I might wonder…Does this child need to learn some impulse control or wait time? And if so I would spend some time (in a naturalistic way) helping him develop those skills.

Finally- I would give him lots of opportunities to practice the appropriate attention getting behavior (as well as wait time and impulse control) and let him know/ show him how great of a job he is doing with it.