Forget It! How to be done with everyday forgetfulness.

forgetful boy


verdue library books. Smelly gym clothes. Permission slips rushed to school as the field-trip bus is about to pull away. When will kids learn to remember the things they need before the guilty, “Um, I forgot…” phone call?

As you may have heard before, “A child who always forgets has a parent who always remembers.” Which is to say, every time you rescue your kids with constant reminders or by bailing them out when they forget, you actually do them a disservice, as they never feel the sting of their forgetfulness and learn to take responsibility.

I’m not talking about the occasional slips of mind. You know you have a real problem when you’re dropping off a lunchbox or musical instrument on a weekly basis for one of your kids. Here’s how to solve it:

  1. Remind them to remember—once. Start by telling your school-age kids they’re old enough to take responsibility for remembering their own belongings and commitments. Then break the news that you will no longer rescue them if they forget. This conversation shouldn’t happen in the heat of the moment, but at a time when everyone’s calm.
  2. Empower the memory. While you won’t be reminding kids about science projects and soccer cleats anymore, you can give them the tools to help them remember on their own. Ask, “What can you do to help you remember to pack everything you need?” Then listen to what your kids have to say. After they’re spoken their ideas, you can suggest things like checklists by the door, personal cubbies and packing the backpack the night before as additional memory methods.
  3. Forget rescuing! Once you’ve put your system in play, let natural consequences do the teaching for you. Empathize with your child, but resist the urge to run forgotten items to school. Your kids might receive a bad grade or two for missing homework, but the lifelong lessons will be worth it.

With these tips, you can make forgetfulness—and those rushed trips to your child’s classroom—a thing of the past.

For more strategies to teach your kids to take personal responsibility, join us for an upcoming free parenting webinar. Learn more.

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.