Georgia NeSmith
2 min readMar 2, 2022


This is one of my biggest pet peeves about reactions to children repeatedly misbehaving.

You're dam straight she's trying to get attention. What is wrong with that? Children need attention, and if they misbehave in order to get attention, it's either because they don't know any other way of asking, or because other means of asking haven't worked.

A child who seriously misbehaves on a regular basis is indeed, NEEDING...more attention than her parents are giving her. She doesn't know how to convince her parents that she is struggling emotionally and having a hard time coping with the life that she has to live.

The more your child misbehaves, the more constant that misbehavior is, the deeper the problem, and the sooner they get help outside what their parents provide.

Of course there are all the problems you mention with access -- both with insurance coverage and the availability of services locally.

There may be other options, however. Not the best, but better than nothing. There may be parenting groups that are relatively inexpensive. If the adult has insurance coverage & there's no available therapist for their child, they can also get help understanding & managing their child by getting treatment themselves.

Years ago, my 2nd husband & I had to deal with massive temper tantrums every time she came back from her dad's house, where responsibility for her had been turned over to her stepmother. My daughter had a mountain sized set of reasons for needing help.

We finally sought help. The therapist we went to said that for the most part, she found dealing with the parents more helpful for the child. Well, she was right. From her we learned better ways to manage my daughter's behaviors. She helped us to understand the dynamics at work. By understanding the dynamics, we learned how to help her cope with situations over which we had no control.

And it worked. It took only about 12 weeks. When she misbehaved, we told her that that behavior was unacceptable. We didn't punish her, but rather made it clear that if she wanted our attention there were better ways to get it. She began to accept "not right now" so long as we gave her a "when" that she would get our attention.

We did a whole lot of fun things together with her, but only what she'd asked for in a proper way, and it didn't involve suddenly dropping what we were doing & attending to her. (She was .) If it was an emergency, of course she'd get us right away. But if it was something that she could wait for, we'd make her wait at least 10 minutes. Longer if we had things we had to get done.

We used tons of other tips and tricks we were given. The change in our household was dramatic.

She never saw a therapist. We learned how to be better parents and provide her what she needed from us as parents.

With children, parents who know how to parent properly are the best therapists a child can get.



Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.