Be specific, concrete with forgetful youngsters

Published 10:12 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

QUESTION: Are there strategies for helping disorganized and forgetful kids?

ANSWER: Remembering is more difficult for children with busy and disorganized brains. However, all children need to learn how to listen, remember and follow directions. There are strategies that are kid-friendly and helpful.

Make your directions very specific and concrete. Brain development research has found that using very specific times can engage a child’s brain and help with remembering: “We are leaving at 3:42.” “Bedtime is at 8:51.”

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Use non-verbal signals. Turn off lights to signal dinner time. When it’s time to pick up toys or get ready for bed, play a certain song, so that the song gets associated with the activity.

Teach your children to make written notes and lists as reminders. The process of writing tasks on paper helps imprint the task on the brain. When something needs to be remembered, get use to saying, “Make a note.”

Put their technology to good use. Have them use their alarm on their phone or the timer on the microwave to signal their time limit on video games or when they need to start doing their homework or practicing their musical instrument.

Many kids forget to turn in homework even though they have completed it. Have a child wear four rubber bands on his wrist as a visual, sensory reminder that he has four assignments to turn in. It might be possible to create a routine that as soon as homework is completed, he scans it and emails it to his teacher.

It can help to simplify your lifestyle and your home. Clutter in the home contributes to more clutter in the brain.

For parenting support and problem-solving help, call the Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out Kirk Martin’s Celebrate Calm CDs at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin) and