View Full Version : Only child EXTREMELY demanding of attention

08-18-2011, 01:30 PM
I have been caring for a 3 YO boy who is an only child for about 3 months now and he is driving me crazy with his attention-seeking. Less often, he does the negative attention stuff, but it's the constant pull for attention (asking almost ridiculous questions to keep my attention - What colour is the sky? Why are we eating?, etc.) and if he is not getting it that way, he is whining or tattling on every move of every other kid in care all day! His parents adore him and although they say that they will not acknowledge the demanding or annoying behaviour, I feel that he must be having it reinforced somewhere... I've tried to spend a little more one-on-one with him, but it just seems to make it worse. Also tried time-outs for the tattling.

Any advice as to how to resolve this is GREATLY APPRECIATED!!! Thank you!!!

08-18-2011, 01:40 PM
Is he the oldest in your care? If so give him tasks to help out the smaller kids. i.e get him to play Simon says or tell them a story, even if he can't read he can still tell a story with pictures. Let him know he is your biggest helper. Let him help with diaper changes by getting you the supplies etc...Ignore the fibbing if it's harmelss.

I have 2 three year olds and the crazy questions about everything is normal, just answer with crazy silly answers. What colour is the sky, say rainbow, etc... they ususally laugh and tell you the correct answer. He sounds a bit board, does he like puzzles this can keep him busy when you need some down time. The leaf frog video's are amazing too for learning if you need to keep him busy while your making lunch etc... amazon.ca has some great deals. My 3 year olds love them we have like 6. They are only 1/2 hour videos but very eduactional.

08-18-2011, 01:45 PM
I wouldn't give time-outs for things like tattling as it is annoying, but not serious compared to hitting, etc. I would tend to ignore attention seeking as much as possible unless it is dangerous or harmful to others. As for the question asking, that is pretty normal for a 3 year old...my 3 year oldasks a lot of questions too and if I can't answer I will tell him I am busy right now and will answer later, but when I can, I simply answer them because he actually just wants to know; they sound like ridiculous questions, but for him they are real questions he has (the why is extremely common at this age).

08-18-2011, 02:56 PM
Actually....the child development guides for 3 year olds say that one of the characteristic of a 3 year old is

"Why questions" and lots of questions in general. This is a natural milestone/time for every 3 year old and some kids go through it more than others. My older son never really asked much but when my daughter hit 3 she asked me stuff all the time about EVERYTHING. I would get annoyed with her because I didn't understand it...but once I learned more about child development I saw that it was actually her just being a normal 3 year old and that it was in manuals as a normal part of developmnent

A lot of what you are describing actually sounds like a list of the normal development listed for 3 year olds so no worries.

It can be testing your patience but it helps to know that he is actually pretty normal. text book even :yes:;)

08-18-2011, 03:24 PM
This is from my Child development section from a course I took
3-5 years
Intellectual and cognitive development

-Longer attention span
-Very curious and asks many questions - is interested in "Why?"
-imitates others and likes dramatic play
etc etc

then under Emotional, Social and Language development
-Plays more with peers
-Enjoys pretending to be an important adult i.e mother, father, police officer, doctor
-Can be bossy and at other times, protective of younger children
-Has a sense of right and wrong and likes to follow the rules
-Needs to feel important and worthwhile, appreciates praise for achievement
-May be defiant and needs controlled freedom
-Has a sense of pride in his/her belongs or accomplishments

Sorry too long to type out all of the things under each section. But hopefully that helps to show that the child is actually quite typical

08-18-2011, 03:45 PM
My daughter is 3 years old and she acts as you described. My 8 year old boy was also like that when he was around 3. But "in between" son never said the word why! Go figure why!!! lol!!!

Mommy, why this and that, ah ok but why ...

Mommy, what are we eating? Lasagna. 3 minutes later, mommy what are we eating. If I go to the bathroom she comes in and mommy, what are you doing? I tested her many times by answering silly answers and she knows the answer. That made her laugh, she gave me the correct answer and left happy, without coming back for the same question! But always a different one, non stop!

Patience my dear! It doesn't last long...


08-19-2011, 06:20 AM
Thanks for the feedback ladies. Although I know that questions are super common at this age (after raising 3 of my own and doing childcare for several years), with this little guy it's excessive. I've had only children in care before who were more needy of the attention, but I have never seen it as strong as with him.

The questions aside (I wish that I hadn't even mentioned it as now we have started a forum about how "Yes! 3 YO's ask questions!"-lol), I was looking more for advice about whether it's more effective with a child like this to give more attention to reassure or to reinforce that he is part of the group and that he can't have all the attention all day long. Thanks!

BTW- I love the idea of making him my right-hand man and enlisting him as a helper and he can handle it with tasks where he isn't competing with the other kids (ie. diaper to diaper pail - yes, entertain other kids where he is no longer the focus - no) I suppose it'll be a work in progress!

08-19-2011, 01:02 PM
Just because a child asks a question doens't mean we need to buy into the conversation. I will answer a question once, then if asked again I turn it around and thus the child ends up giving me the answer. After that I will no longer engage over that topic.

Mostly the questions are an attempt to seek attention and they are simply told it isn't the time for questions and to go play or something to that effect.

08-21-2011, 06:56 PM
GardenGal:I understand you. There are times when it is clear that a child is asking you stuff not for the sake of having a true conversation or out of curiosity, but because they are looking for your undivided attention. I have a 3 y/o once-in-a-whiler that is this way exactly. I used to answer, over and over again. I have since switched to answering the question once, and then saying "What do you think is the answer to that?" or "You just asked me that question, do you remember my answer?" If it is truly not a good time to chat, I tell him that. "Miss L is busy with this right now, so I am not able to discuss that. Why don't you go...." At that age, he can begin to understand/be taught that sometimes our attention NEEDS to be on something else for a period of time, and that that is okay. So my point is: give attention when it is the appropriate time and place. There is nothing wrong with a little extra praise for a job well done, or a picture that is beautifully colored, lol. But when it's not required, a simple and consistent explanation is in order.