Once upon a time there was a young boy from a small village who was very lonely and bored. It was his job to guard all the villagers’ sheep on the hilltop overlooking the village. The boy was very sad, lonely, and often scared.
One day, he could not take it anymore- He screamed the warning call, “ Wolf Wolf!” as loud as he could, down to the village below. The villagers ran to his aid- but were relieved when they found no wolf among there sheep. The boy did not know what made him do it, but the attention made him smile on the inside.
The next day, he surprised even himself by screaming the warning again! “Wolf, Wolf” he cried. The villagers were not so nice this time- “What’s your problem?” they asked the boy. “Do you not understand how serious this is?” The boy was sorry, but not enough to wish he had not done it. His mother worried about her child’s behavior and thought about what she should do.
Early the next day, his mother brought him to the local art therapist. There he got to paint his loneliness, talk about his fears of wolves, and practice coping skills for when he got sad. By the time he went to the hilltop that day, he was so full of strategies and self-understanding; he did not feel the need to cry wolf ever again.
Moral: Oftentimes when we dismiss what a child is doing because it is “just for attention,” we should look to figure out why he is looking for that attention in the first place.