What Is Positive Attention?

08 January, 2020
Positive attention, through a warm and loving relationship, helps children feel valued and safe. Read on to learn all about this topic!

Children are in a stage of growth where they need a lot of attention, especially from adults. For this reason, they sometimes resort to bad behavior to attract attention, even if it ends up being negative. So consequently, it’s necessary to use positive attention with children.

This way, you can make sure they don’t resort to attention-seeking behaviors. In addition, this also facilitates healthy personal development.

Positive attention and negative attention: what are they?

Praising and congratulating a child after a good performance, showing interest in their achievements, using affectionate expressions, and encouraging them in their tasks are some examples of what it means to use positive attention.

Through such actions and experiences, you tell your child that they matter. This makes them feel valued, which is one of their main needs from the moment they’re born.

On the other hand, if you don’t value and celebrate their accomplishments, meaning you don’t pay attention to them in a positive way, children will look for other ways to catch your attention.

What Is Positive Attention?

In view of this, if children aren’t able to meet this basic need in a positive way, they’ll look for ways that will definitely catch adults’ attention: bad behavior. Thus, if you shout at and lecture your children, you’re using negative attention.

“Children have a greater need to be recognized and taken into account. Thus, they’ll try to get attention in any way, even if it’s negative attention.”

– Gloria G. Rodríguez –

Although it’s best to offer children positive attention most of the time, as early childhood education specialist Gloria G. Rodríguez states, sometimes it’s very difficult not to fall into the trap of reinforcing and rewarding bad behaviors. For example, when you only react if your children misbehave.

How to use positive attention

Undoubtedly, it’s a primary behavior motivator in children. Thus, the key is to give them positive attention when they behave well and stop using it in the case of misconduct.

According to what psychology professor at Rutgers University Maurice J. Elias and psychologists Steven E. Tobias and Brian S. Friedlander state, adults must try to reduce the amount of negative attention they give children, as this tends to increase conflicts at home and affects self-esteem.

What Is Positive Attention?

Thus, you must teach your child specific behaviors that they can identify as ways to get positive attention. In other words, it’s important for your child to know that you’re praising their good behavior.

Why is it so important?

Elias, Tobias, and Friedlander assume that the more negative attention children get, the more insecure they’ll become. Therefore, this will lead them to try to get even more attention, which can become a problem because negative attention is less satisfactory.

However, the most important effect of using positive attention in children is that it leads to the development of a healthy self-concept and self-esteem. Through positive attention, you can help your children build a healthy self-image. In other words, you can help them value themselves and make them feel more secure and confident.

  • Elias, M.J., Tobias, S.E. y Friedlander, B.S. (2014). Educar con inteligencia emocional. Cómo conseguir que nuestros hijos sean sociables, felices y responsables. Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial España.
  • Rodríguez, G.G. (1999). Criando a nuestros niños. Simon and Schister. Nueva York: Estados Unidos.