Last week, we talked about the escape function of behavior. Now, we’re going to talk about behaviors that occur to get attention. These behaviors happen when other people are around and can give the child attention, good or bad. They can start to because the child doesn’t know the appropriate way to ask for attention, so they do anything they can to get adults or their friends to look their way. It is a normal and healthy desire to want attention. Time with a favored adult or friend can be extra valuable to children who have attention-maintained behaviors, but it is the adult’s job to teach the child the appropriate ways to get that attention.
An example of this is behaviors that happen at school, but not at home. Some of these include talking back and fighting. These are all behaviors that they know the teacher, or their peers will react to. The child may make noises out of nowhere or make inappropriate comments when they are in class, since doing so will get their peers to laugh and give them the attention they are looking for.
At home these behaviors may start happening if parents or caregivers spend time on the phone or computer instead of with them. A child may start to yell or whine until someone comes to check on them or looks their way. These behaviors can sometimes stop if the audience is removed, but the behaviors can also get more intense to gain attention from anyone else who is around. Tune in next week to learn more about how we handle attention-maintained behavior at the Husky ABA clinic!