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Why some kids are so forgetful

By Understood Team

This article is part of

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We all forget things from time to time. What were the three things I needed to get at the store? 

But some kids seem to forget things all the time, including what they were just asked to do. They might have trouble following directions and remembering lists.

This can be very frustrating — not just for the kids, but for the adults around them. Parents, caregivers, and teachers may feel like they’re constantly repeating themselves and giving reminders. And they may wonder what’s going on.

There are many reasons kids are forgetful, including stress and lack of sleep. Being hungry can also have a big impact. But sometimes when kids have trouble remembering information, they may be struggling with a skill called working memory.

Dive deeper

What causes trouble with working memory

Working memory is like a temporary sticky note in our brain. It holds new information in place so the brain can work with it and connect it with other information.

Working memory is part of a group of mental skills called executive function . Trouble with it can affect people in lots of ways. For example, it can make it hard to follow directions or remember something you just heard or read.

These types of challenges can be signs of ADHD. That’s because ADHD is a problem of executive function. See a detailed list of signs of ADHD .

Next steps

When kids feel stressed out, they may have trouble remembering things. Exercise and relaxation techniques can help — from jumping jacks to deep breathing. Playing can reduce stress, too. Learn the difference between good stress and bad stress for kids .

If forgetfulness is ongoing, talk to someone about what you’re seeing. Parent-teacher communication is key. It’s important to ask kids what they’re experiencing, too. Have they noticed they’re forgetting things? How does that make them feel? Opening a dialogue can help you understand why it’s happening, and how to help.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom