How to handle an attention-seeking child

Dear Kid Whisperer,

My daughter is 7, requires a lot of attention, and is a wonderful little performer. She really is talented and very funny. She performs little sketches and dances and songs that her father and I really enjoy. The problem is that she is very prolific and probably performs for us for at least 45 minutes per day. We hate to tell her that we can’t watch every performance, and she has a really high need for attention that we need to fulfill, but we just don’t have the time to sit through these long performances. What do we do? — Carrington, Key Largo, Florida


Your daughter does not have a need for attention. She wants attention, and that is great. Your daughter does have a need for love, of which I’m sure you are already giving her plenty. Assuming that you are also providing shelter, water and food, you are attending to all of her needs. Good work!

Now let’s move on to her wants.

Wants are trickier than needs because you actually don’t want to fulfill all of our children’s wants. In fact, the more we fulfill our kid’s wants, the less likely they will work toward getting the things they want. In fact, if you give your kid everything they want, they probably will stop working toward getting things, since you cannot aspire to attain what you have already been given.

By the way, this is the reason a lot of today’s kids don’t work to achieve anything: THEY ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING!

It appears that your daughter wants a huge amount of attention. Again, this is fantastic and you are not going to give her all of the attention that she wants. Do you know who else always wanted a ridiculously high amount of attention from their parents and everyone around them? Jim Carrey, Bruce Springsteen and Kevin Hart. Their parents did not give them 100 percent of the attention that they wanted, and everyone who likes to be entertained should be appreciative of this. All of these great performers wanted more attention than their parents could give, and, as a result, they are paid very well to get lots of attention from millions of people.

Here’s how I would fulfill your daughter’s need for love, while taking good care of myself:

Kid: Ahem. I will now perform Vivaldi’s Mandolin Concerto on the triangle while singing Prince’s immortal classic Purple Rain while my youngest brother Freddy accompanies me on the electric harp. There will be a short intermission when we hit the 20-minute mark. Ready, Freddy? A-one, and a-two, and a …

Kid Whisperer: Oh, honey. I love you and I love your performances so much. I am going to listen and watch this performance for 5 minutes and then I need to cook dinner. After that you can either do this performance for your dolls, or pretend that a wall is a giant audience of people who bought tickets just to see you and Freddy.

Kid: But that’s boring.

Kid Whisperer: Fair enough. Five minutes starts now!

Don’t try to give your kid all of the attention that she wants. What good would that do?

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