How to spot attention-seeking behavior
1) One easy way to tell is that if a child merely wants attention, he or she will typically stop the disturbing behavior once reprimanded (at least temporarily). Once he has your attention, his goal has been satisfied, and there is no reason to continue. A power-seeking child, on the other hand, may intensify his defiance after you’ve intervened.
2) Another indicator is when a child seems to act up during specific times of the day or when you are otherwise preoccupied. For example, “John, five, next to the youngest of four, is the ‘good’ child in the family. However, he does one thing which drives Mother to distraction. Every time she is on the phone, he finds ways to interrupt her. He has to show her something, asks to go outside, asks to have a friend in, wants something to eat, wants an object out of reach, or wants to know where certain toys are. Sometimes Mother stops her conversation to answer John. Other times she scolds, ‘Let me alone till I’m through!’ At this point John usually starts to tease his little sister and make her cry!” (Dreikurs & Soltz, 1964, p. 142&)