I have heard that getting too little attention from parents can result in personality disorders in adult life and getting too much attention from parents can result in child be an attention seeker as an adult.

My child is 7 years old.

  • What are the signs that a child is receiving too much attention from the parent with examples?
  • What does it even mean to give too much attention?
  • What can be done to prevent this situation or cure such situation?

Is there a good or bad attention? How to differentiate?

  • 2
    I think you have causation and correlation mixed up here. Children do not grow to be attention seekers because their parents give them too much attention; parents simply often give attention seeker children more attention. May 22, 2020 at 22:27
  • 1
    You have a good question. It is important for children to learn to be self reliant and do tasks independently. Helicopter parents and hyper attentive parents can cause issues in their children's ability to be independent. I don't have research to share so I cannot give an answer, but I wanted to add a comment in support of your question.
    – Adam Heeg
    May 23, 2020 at 0:32
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    Oh. First note that attention seeking isn't a disorder, so err on the side of too much attention. Second, I don't think a child ever can receive too much attention, but perhaps the wrong kind of attention, one that isn't uplifting, or one that focuses on achievement rather than the person, or one that doesn't encourage the child to develop their independence, could be mistaken for too much attention. But as asked, I can't imagine what'd be a satisfying answer to this question.
    – user36162
    May 23, 2020 at 7:28
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    @AdamHeeg I don't think that self-reliance is harmed by too much attention, rather it is harmed by parents micromanaging and not letting their child do it themselves, which is not the same thing as attention. E.g. doing up a shoelace for a child versus teaching them to do it themselves. Both are attention, but only one supports independence. May 24, 2020 at 11:59
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    @PaulJohnson - You are so very right. I know this from personal experience; my mother had a change-of-life baby (during menopause) and my parents did everything for him because they had no patience left to let him go slowly or to make mistakes. That the effects of this attitude were profound is a gross understatement. May 24, 2020 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia lists the causes of attention-seeking in adults. Excessive parental attention in childhood is not one of them.

If anything, I would expect lack of attention to be a cause, as the child becomes desperate for attention and learns that the only way to get attention is to demand it. However this is a complicated issue. It also implies that the way you give attention is as important as the quantity.

Lack of attention would also seem likely to cause low self-esteem, which is listed as a cause of attention-seeking in adults.

  • +1 I wince at the idea of too much attention, but couldn't imagine what an answer to this question might look like, as written. This is certainly how.
    – user36162
    May 24, 2020 at 16:08
  • +1, in spite of the fact that you used Wikipedia as a source. Much of Wikipedia is opinions marginally supported by better sources; click through the links to the original sources and see how often they do not really say what the editor is claiming they say. I've done this often with medical issues people have tried to convince me using Wikipedia. Sometimes the references directly contradict the editor! They are hoping, I suppose, that it makes their answer look authoritative and counting on the fact that most people don't click through to the source. May 24, 2020 at 17:15
  • @anongoodnurse In this case I did check to make sure. If you prefer, here is another link with a very similar list: healthline.com/health/mental-health/attention-seeking-behavior, and another which just says that its complicated: psychcentral.com/disorders/histrionic-personality-disorder May 24, 2020 at 18:00
  • Personality Disorders are complicated, and I don't disagree with your answer; I hope that's not the impression you got. Just wanted to warn you about Wikipedia as a source and in general. Because I know medicine and how to interpret a scientific paper, I know how inaccurate they can be in medical articles. I presume it would be the same if I were a specialist in a different field, but that may be erroneous. May 24, 2020 at 23:41
  • @anongoodnurse I think you generally presume correctly. I know math and anything that's of interest to people outside of math is usually extremely inaccurate. The things that aren't aweful are generally the really super technical ones that no one cares about. If you want to learn about cardinal invariants of the continuum it's pretty good.
    – DRF
    May 29, 2020 at 12:02

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