How to Handle Forgetful Teens

Amongst the many challenges of parenting a teenager, you might find yourself continually issuing reminders -- and checking to make sure your teen doesn't forget something. Although forgetfulness is common with teenagers, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't teach and encourage self-reliant skills. David X. Swenson, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Carver Psy.D., authors of “The Teen Brain: A Work in Progress,” recommend helping teenagers grow into more responsibility for actions and behavior 1.

Encourage your teenager to get enough rest every night to reduce forgetfulness. The University of Utah Health Care website states that teenagers require between 8 1/2 and 9 1/4 hours of sleep every night to ensure that they perform at peak levels and feel well physically 2. If teens do not get enough sleep, they might exhibit forgetfulness and other difficulties with concentration.

Create a system that helps your teenager become responsible for remembering important information and items. The Monterey County Office of Education suggests placing a checklist of important items that your teen needs every day at the door. Encourage your teen to check the list to ensure that she has everything on the list before leaving the house. Provide your teenager with a calendar or notebook in which she can make notes to herself to help her remember important information.

Explain to your child that she needs to be responsible for remembering the items on her checklist. Similarly, your teen needs to make frequent notes to herself to help her remember important information. Warn her that you will not rescue her when she forgets information or items. Alyson Schafer, psychotherapist, author and trainer, advocates transferring responsibility for remembering to children to train them to remember and keep track of important items, tasks and information.

Stop rescuing your teenager when she forgets. The Ohio State University Parents in Action recommends that parents allow kids to deal with the consequences of being forgetful 4. These natural consequences can be effective cause-and-effect teaching tools that help a teen learn a lesson. If your teen forgets her cheerleading uniform or homework assignment, she will either need to deal with the repercussions of not having what she needs, or she will have to resolve the problem by getting it herself.

Praise your teenager when you notice improvement in staying organized and remembering things. Positive reinforcement often motivates people to try harder to repeat the praised actions.