ksmom1's picture

Attention Seeking 4 Year Old

New to the board...seeking some advise!  I'm the single mother of a 4 1/2 year old boy.  His father has never really been in the picture - I have sole legal custody.  My family has been more than supportive and my son is more than loved.  Two years ago, I moved 4 hours away from my family - my support group - for a job opportunity.  This is where we have been ever since.  This is also where I met my current boyfriend of over 2 years.  He's a wonderful guy to both me and my son - he's definately a wonderful role model who I trust 100% with my son.  About 5 months ago, we moved in together.  I know moving in the first place, then having another guy (other than my son) come into my life, then moving in together has been alot for my son to take in.  Top that with the fact that my boyfriend is a divorced father of 2 young girls that he has custody of every other day and every other weekend. 

My son is very loving and very smart; however, he seems to be having a hard time adjusting to the fact that there's other people in my life (and that he can no longer get away with murder.  My boyfriend has opened my eyes to many things that I've let "slide" - whining, getting his way, etc, my excuse being, "As a single mother who works full time, it's sometimes easier to give in than to put up a fight").  Of course, my son comes first.  Even though I work full time, tend to the house, make dinner and enjoy some "me" time once in awhile, I do my best to make the most of the time he and I have together (read books, play games, go to the park, etc).

I'm trying to break him of is his need to constantly seek attention.  We'll be sitting at the dinner table and he'll be loud or say what he thinks are "silly" things so that all eyes are on him.  Other times, he'll sit there and repeat himself over and over again (for example, saying "ouch" over and over again even though he's not hurt just so someone will come and see him).  My boyfriends 3 and 4 year old daughters and my 7 year old cousin have all said something to him about not having to repeat himself over and over again...pretty bad when his behavior annoys even young kids!  Recently, a member of my boyfriends family came to visit.  The family member was talking to one of my boyfriends daughters and my son (who has met this person maybe one other time) inturrupted their conversation and said, "I love you" to this person - because he wasn't the one being talked to (getting attention) at that moment.

By no means is my son being neglected or ignored.  He is #1 in my book and my boyfriend thinks of him as a son.  He's not pushed to the side or treated any differently than anyone else.  I want to know how to stop this "me me me" behavior.  I know that being the center of attention at this age may be normal - but not to this extent.  It's even extended into his pre-school, where he'll hit/kick other kids and teachers.  Knowing how loving and smart my son really is, I don't want him to be "that kid" that's always seeking attention (which many times becomes negative - trouble in school, bullying, etc). 

I know this whole thing was pretty long winded but I'm curious to hear from others who may be in a similar situation and suggestions for me as far as what I can do to help him see that he doesn't always have to be the center of attention.  My boyfriend and I want to see him be the smart, loving kid that we know he is.

ksmom1's picture

Thank you for sharing, gdjq1. I have also had my son checked for attention disorders and he's been cleared as having "no problem". I really hope to turn this around before it comes a major problem!

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I've often heard that when a parent's discipline techniques change, things get harder before they get easier. It's an adjustment for both parent and child. Plus w/ all the other changes in your lives, do you really think your child wld sail that smoothly through the transition?
Be consistent, and stand your ground. You said your son is used to you letting things slide. Suddenly, the tables have turned. You probably haven't mastered your discipline techniques yet, and your son most likely hasn't gotten used to the fact that mommy is not letting me get away w/ certain things anymore. Of course he's going to act up and try to see what buttons he can push. It's you're job to put your foot down and remain firm. Once you've mastered that, and once your son's learned that no means no, I'm sure things will get better for all of you.
Question: Does your BF ever discipline your son? If so, make sure you're both on the same page, otherwise your son will do whatever he can to manipulate you over your BF or vice versa.
Good luck to all of you!