Parenting the Attention Seeking Child
Children at any age are attention seekers. From the time they are very small and just learning how to walk and talk to the day they go out the door, children want and need your approval. This is fairly easy to remember when they are young-most active parenting workshops will teach the stages of childhood development and effective parenting skills for each stage. Also, they are much more vocal about stating their needs. "Watch me" is common-just go to any swimming pool at any public park in the summer and you'll get to see attention seeking at it's best.
It's not so easy to remember as they get older, but it's true, especially at the age where they are moving from being a child to an adult-around 18-20. During this time, your child will want to be treated like an adult, but have some of the approval seeking behaviors of a child, including getting into trouble or throwing temper tantrums. The tantrums just don't look the same as they did when your child threw himself down on the floor in the grocery store. Now it comes in the form of drug use, inconsistency at being able to stay in school or keep a job, or a series of boyfriends that you don't approve of, just to name a few. These are all normal stages of childhood development.
The good news is that at this age they are also more inclined to sit down and have a conversation with you. It may get heated, these kids have their own opinions about how you should behave as a parent, and no, they usually won't be grateful for the sacrifices you have made for them. That probably won't show up until their mid twenties or even their early thirties, and most likely after they have had children of their own. You can read all the articles about parenting that you want-time takes time.
There are, however, some effective parenting skills that you can learn to help them-and yourself-through these trying times. They work for any age. If your child is small and wants your attention all the time, provide them with positive feedback and spend as much time with them as you can, and when you are, explain to them that there will be a payoff-that you will read them a story but after that you need to spend some time working on the house or just reading one of your grown up books. If your child is older you may want to make a date with them once a week to see a movie together or go shopping-the movie idea works great if your child is a boy, shopping for girls, at least in my experience. Children at any age who are getting regular attention from their parents have a better self image and grow up with more confidence.