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siissy Offline
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Attention seeking behavior - August 8th 2017, 09:55 PM

I know all the basics. I know I love my family and that they love me too, but sometimes I don't feel like it. I feel like I'm ignored, and then I do stupid things top stall away my parents attention from my brothers.
I know what I do, but I can't stop doing it and I don't know why. It would be easy to admit I need attention, but I need more then the rest of the kids and so I don't feel satisfied with the extra attention they give me.
I make up lies, and and throw tantrums, I threaten suicide or wish I'd die. Even negative attention is better then nothing.
I scare myself.
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Attention seeking behavior - August 10th 2017, 11:33 AM

Hey there (and welcome to TeenHelp!)

It sounds like you have a lot of conflicting feelings- knowing that you are loved by family, and sometimes feeling unloved. And when you feel this way, it may seem natural to show 'attention seeking' behaviour so that you can feel loved again. The term 'attention seeking' is often used in a negative way, but when you think about it, it's a very natural and human thing to do. When we are hurt, upset, scared, the best thing to do is to talk to someone which means getting attention. Humans need the drive to seek attention in order to survive and meet our social and emotional needs. So it's not a bad thing, per se.

But sometimes when our knowledge and feelings don't match up, it can create conflict. You know you are loved, but don't feel it. It must be horrible for you to feel this way, and as you say, negative attention can seem better than nothing.

I'm wondering if you can think of specific situations that might trigger you into the negative behaviours (lying, tantrums, threatening suicide)? If there are, then it may be best to make your family aware of these situations so that you can try to avoid the situations (as you may not be able to stop the situations from happening, especially if your brothers are getting the attention because they need it too, but you can find ways of avoiding the situation).

Another thing is learning how to cope in these situations. I'm not sure about you, but for me, it can help to remember all the good moments with loved ones so that you remember you are loved. When you aren't triggered, it may help to write a list or a collage (you can even get your family to help you too!) about all the times your family were there for you, and the times you felt loved. Then when you feel unloved, you can look at it, and try to remember that even though what you are feeling may be very powerful and true in the moment, that it's still just a feeling and feelings are temporary and may not reflect the situation very well (since emotions can often cloud your judgement and perspective on things). It takes a lot of restraint to try not to act out and instead focus on the positives, but it can be worth it if it helps to keep the peace and helps you to remember that you are loved. Or you can try to distract yourself, and treat yourself very kindly and gently. Perhaps have a cry and then curl up with a good book or a movie, or have a relaxing bath. It's also beneficial in general to have other interests and friends to rely on as well as the love of your family, just so you aren't too dependent on one source of love and attention

It can also be good to have an open and honest conversation with your parents too. Let them know how you feel, and that you understand that your negative behaviours are scaring you. Let them know that you do know you are loved, but sometimes don't feel this way and that's why you may act out. Perhaps you can schedule some quality one on one time with your parents (minus your brothers)? I understand that sometimes it feels like a deep void that needs to be filled and that you feel you need more attention than your brothers, but at the same time, they deserve just as much attention as you. It's hard trying to balance this but can help if you spend some quality time your parents, as can your brothers, and then spend time together as a family too. In this sense, you aren't competing for attention but you are getting the attention you need, as well as strengthening the bonds between you and your family.

I'm wondering how you would feel about getting professional help such as counselling? Counselling can be a great way of learning about your behaviours and feelings and how to cope when things get difficult. Especially since you are worried about these things, and it's always good to talk and get help for things that concern you.

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