Forgetfulness in Children


Your child forgot his homework, gym shoes or backpack again, and you're at the end of your rope with his forgetfulness. If this sounds like a recent scenario in your home, you're not alone. Many children have forgetful tendencies, but your child isn't doomed to forget things for his whole life. Once you understand potential reasons for forgetfulness, you can begin to implement solutions that can help your child remember what he needs -- most of the time.

What Normal Forgetfulness Looks Like

  • Everyone forgets things from time to time, and that's completely normal. It's also normal for some children have better memories than other children, according to Harvard Medical School. If your child occasionally forgets his homework or forgets that he needed to have a note signed, it's probably nothing to worry about. It's also normal if your child blanks on something, such as a vocabulary word or the name of a person he learned about at school. Transience, or forgetting something after a period of time, is also common.

Why Kids Are Forgetful

  • Children can be forgetful for a number of different reasons -- after all, they're busy people, too. One cause of forgetfulness is lack of sleep, according to Harvard Medical School. If your child doesn't get enough sleep, he's more likely to experience mood problems, which interferes with memory. Along the same lines, stress, anxiety and depression can cause memory problems as well.

When It Might Be More

  • If your child gets plenty of sleep and isn't stressed or depressed, make an appointment with his pediatrician. An underactive thyroid can interfere with memory, as can certain medications such as some allergy medicines. Though far less common, alcohol use can also interfere with memory -- something to consider if you are parenting a teen. Genetics can also play a role in how well the memory component of the brain works, according to the Psychology Today website. If your child is consistently forgetful, your pediatrician may also want to have her evaluated to rule out attention-deficit disorder -- ADD -- as this is a common trait.

Strategies for Helping Your Child Remember

  • In most cases, a few routine changes and effective reminders can help your child remember everything he needs to. Make a chart of everything your child needs to remember, recommends the Great Schools website, including homework assignments and supplies for school. As he addresses each one, he can check it off on the chart. Regular reminders from you and from his teachers might also help. You can also try posting adhesive notes on the bathroom mirror or front door to help your child remember important things. Ensure that your child gets plenty of sleep and help him find ways to unwind and relax so he doesn't get stressed.

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