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Reasons for Forgetfulness in Children

By Erin Schreiner ; Updated April 18, 2017

From misplaced homework to forgotten locker combinations, as many parents and educators will attest, forgetfulness seems all too common in children. If your kiddo seems to forget what you have said before you finish saying it, he might not be entirely to blame. While the responsibility of remembering still rests on children’s shoulders, there are some things that can make children more prone to forgetting than their older counterparts.

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While anyone’s mind can wander regardless of the age, paying attention often proves extra challenging to youngsters. Children are not born knowing how to pay attention, but instead develop the ability to do so as they age. If your child seems particularly prone to forgetfulness, you may have more success in improving his memory if you focus instead on building his attentiveness, as this could be at the root of his problem. When speaking to your child, ensure that he is looking directly at you. Also, stop often and ask him to paraphrase what you are saying to ensure that he remains engaged in the listening process.

Under-Developed Memory Banks

When adults learn new information, they store the information among other pieces that they already have in their memory banks, adding to these items instead of creating new ones. For example, if an adult learns about how much food a baby rabbit needs to survive, he may place this information with other knowledge about rabbits or with knowledge regarding animals and food. Because children have fewer pieces of knowledge already in their existing memory banks, sorting new information into existing categories is more challenging for them, often leading to forgetfulness.

Lack of Memory Tricks

As individuals age, they learn tricks for remembering. For example, during schooling a teenager may learn that mnemonics are useful for him and, as a result, use methods such as alliteration, rhyming, word association and color coding to remember items. Because children have not yet learned any of these tricks, they may not have tools to help themselves remember.

Traumatic Brain Injury

While forgetfulness is normal, some children experience even more forgetfulness than others as a result of injury. As KidsHealth reports, traumatic brain injury in children can be a major cause of forgetfulness. Brain injuries of this type can occur in car accidents or major traumas, but they can also take place when children take hard hits in sports or experience particularly hard falls. If your child’s forgetfulness seems to have come on suddenly, have your pediatrician check him for concussion.

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About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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