Appropriately Get Your Attention

For you & your preschool student

The ability to successfully capture someone's attention is a fundamental social skill and provides the foundation for future success in social settings and relationships. Children use a variety of ways to get attention and will often resort to techniques they find most effective, such as yelling or whining. How can you change this pattern? You can teach your child the way that you want him to get your attention and then reward him when that behavior occurs. When you take the time at home to build on the skills your child is learning at school, you reinforce these positive skills and create a solid social foundation for your child which will help to reduce challenging behaviors.

Try it at Home

  • Model the behavior you are teaching and do it often. if you need your child's attention, tap her on the shoulder, move to her eye level and begin your communication from there!
  • Practice, practice, practice. Play with this new skill. Practice with both parents, siblings, and friends. Your child can teach her grandparent or teddy bear how to tap on someone's shoulder to get their attention.
  • Remind your child of your expectation. If you are on the computer and she whines or begins to cry for attention, remind her, "It looks like you need something. I will respond if you tap on my shoulder and ask me."
  • Celebrate when your child displays this new skill. "Wow, you tapped me on the shoulder because you wanted some milk. I am happy to get you some!"

Practice at School

Most peer interactions are initiated when a child wants to give or get something from a friend. Rather than grab or yell across the room, your child is learning to gain a friend's attention before beginning a conversation by:

  1. Moving to stand next to the person
  2. Tapping the person on the shoulder
  3. Looking at the person's eyes to see if they have their attention