When I say attention seeking behavior the first thing that usually comes to mind is toddler tantrums. Kids who drop to the floor, kicking and screaming over a toy, or ones who throw a massive fit in the middle of the grocery store. Almost every kid goes through this stage, and what a joyous time it is.
But those toddler tantrums aren’t what I’m talking about today. Attention seeking behavior isn’t limited to the screeches designed to force your hand in public. As kids get older this kind of behavior shifts, taking different forms to achieve various goals.
But a child’s universal aim, conscious or not? Getting you to focus on them.
We’re sitting smack dab in the tween years with our kids, a time that I get is already rife with hormonal emotions. Add in any latent adoption issues and things can become positively volcanic.
So while both of ours flip out from time to time, one in particular does tend toward resorting to attention seeking behavior when he doesn’t get his way.
Not that he can explain why.
We’ll be having what seems like a typical day when a tsunami of emotions rolls over him, knocking him down and dragging him under while he tries desperately to be like everyone else. (Because who can ever really convince an 11-year-old that being yourself is way more interesting than fitting in with the crowd.) He’ll lash out over the most random things, pushing us away, then an hour later he wants to hang out and bond.
He’ll snap at Bear or fight with a friend or just plain old melt down over an imagined slight…he’s always right and we’re never fair and the whole world’s against him. Mammoth feelings knock him side to side and while he’s jerked around he passes the misery along to those closest to him.
But ask him why he’s acting the way he is? Or what exactly is bothering him? He hasn’t got a clue.
I bet those of you with tweens and teens are saying welcome to the joys inherent in the next six years or so…and that could be. My struggle is in not knowing how much of this volatility is run of the mill hormonal drama and how much might be buried deeper. Those self-esteem issues rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times; how am I supposed to sort that out from all the rest?
I think in the end that I simply can’t make that my focus. We face every day, handling each tidal wave as it comes, and I try to remember that no matter what the root cause T-man is fighting his own demons.
And eventually we’ll all come out on the other side.