How Do I Help My Forgetful Child?

Tips and tricks to help your child get more organized and less forgetful.
By Michelle Anthony, PhD




Does it feel like your child is always leaving things at home that should be at school — and vice versa? Even the most forgetful child can become more organized and responsible. Below, you'll find strategies from three sources: a mom, a child, and child development expert. 

The Ph.D.: Try to create routines. For instance, have your child set out clothes, find shoes, and pack backpacks the night before. Teach him to check himself and his environment before leaving. Model this behavior with your own wallet, phone, keys, and countertop survey before you walk out the door. And finally, allow him to fail. Sure, rescuing your child with reminders every once in a while is natural, but allowing him to deal with an annoyed teacher over forgotten homework one time will make a bigger impression than listening to you nag him again and again. — Michelle Anthony, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist in Centennial, CO

The Mom: I have my kids count how many things they have with them and remember that number. When I drop them off, we go over what they have (two socks, backpack, basketball, etc.) so that maybe they’ll recall the list when it’s time to go. At pickup, I ask if they have everything they brought with them, especially coats and hats. If they don’t have something, they can run back and get it. In the end, I hold them accountable: If you lose your favorite sweatshirt because you left it on the playground, you don’t get a new one. — Ann Ostrowski, mom of four, Lexington, MA

The Kid: I start when I get home and put the backpack at the foot of my bed. Right after I finish my homework, I’ll put it back into the bag instead of leaving it on my nightstand. That way I can just pick up my backpack and go to school. — Jackson Ostrowski, 10


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