How to Change the Behavior of a Teen That Constantly Seeks Attention From Boys


Although it is developmentally expected for teens to seek out romantic relationships and attention from boys, taken too far, this behavior can lead to social problems and violate your family’s rule and values. While some attention-seeking behaviors might be driven by the natural biological changes that come from puberty, attention-seeking or sexualized behavior might be a sign your child has incurred sexual abuse. Thus, if your child does not respond to redirection or family rules, consider consulting a psychologist, counselor or pediatrician.

  • Set clear behavioral expectations. Before you can begin to change your teen’s behavior, ensure that she knows what is expected of her. For example, set limits on the type of clothing your child is allowed to wear -- for example, no stomach-bearing shirts or skirts above the knee. Likewise, set rules limiting your child’s interaction with boys and set clear boundaries for your teen, advises Planned Parenthood. For instance, you can stipulate that your daughter can't attend sleepovers where boys are present.

  • Talk to your child about healthy, age-appropriate relationships. Although it might be uncomfortable for both of you, starting a conversation with your child about healthy boundaries in relationships can reinforce your household rules and help your child understand the potential negative effects of attention-seeking behavior, such as developing a poor reputation among peers, teachers and community members.

  • Help your child foster a healthy sense of self-respect. While your teenager might gain positive feelings from the attention she receives from boys, help her explore positive qualities other than her appearance or status in a romantic relationship. For instance, work with your teen to examine the inner traits that she brings to friendships, family interactions, social activities and school, such as compassion, genuineness or creativity.

  • Encourage your child to engage in esteem-building activities. Helping your teen become involved in constructive activities with same-sex peers might help her shift her focus from boys. According to an article by the Women's' Sports Foundation, posted at, girls who participated in sports "Are less likely to be involved in an unwanted pregnancy; more likely to get better grades in school and more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports." Joining a girls’ softball league, Girl Scouts or other activities that can connect her with same-sex peers might help her focus on her own strengths and friendships and shift away from attention-seeking behaviors.

  • Seek professional therapy. If your teen continues to display inappropriate attention-seeking behaviors, professional therapy can help your daughter learn how to set healthier boundaries, develop stronger self-esteem and learn new behaviors. Along with individual therapy, your child’s counselor might also recommend family counseling, which can provide you with practical new suggestions for addressing inappropriate attention-seeking behaviors.


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