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My almost 6-year old son walked out of the bathroom without
washing his hands. Again. I asked why he didn't wash his
hands and he said, ''I don't remember. I can never
remember.'' He was sad and frustrated about it (though, in
fairness, it was probably at least in part because I was
frustrated with him).
But he doesn't remember things. I sometimes have to remind
him a dozen times to put on his shoes or if I tell him he
can't draw because we're about to have dinner, 15 seconds
later he is putting a piece of paper on the table to draw
(even if I ask him to repeat back what I've said).
I actually remember being 5 and having my mom send me
across the street with a message for the neighbors and then
forgetting what it was. So maybe it is just genetic. But
could it be something more like ADD or ADHD or...?
I asked his teacher if he might have ADD and she said we
might want to think about getting him evaluated down the
road. He's doing great in school -- way above grade level
in all subjects though he has some trouble following a
storyline, not sure if it is because he can't pay attention
to it or because he can't pick out what is important.
My husband says he's just a 5-year old boy, and I believe
there is something to that, but we also have a 3-year old
boy who *can* remember things, far better than the older
one. (Don't worry, we never compare them to each other.)
So is there something going on? Have you had a kid like
this who outgrew it? Did you do something about it?
What? Is s/he still like this and you've just decided not
to worry about it?
Our 6-yr old does EXACTLY the same thing! I tell him to
walk to the kitchen and get a spoon for me. He sees a cat
outside and decides to go chase it. When I ask him what
happened to my spoon, he gives me a blank stare and has no
idea what I'm talking about. The funny thing is that he
used to be excellent at remembering things when he was
around 3 yrs old. Our daughter, who was six at the time,
forgot everything. Like you, we didn't compare them, but
noted how different they were. Now that our son is at this
age, we notice that he's going through the exact same
No, I don't think he has ADD/ADHD. He's just in a phase
that kids go through and they will absolutely outgrow. Our
daughter, who is now 9 yrs old, has excellent memory - I
sometimes wish she would forget things I told her.
Agreeing with your husband
I am the mother of a bright, curious, outgoing 8 year old son that sometimes
lacks attention. I don't think it has anything to do with memory. I think it has to
do with lack of interest. I still get frustrated when I've told my son 20 times that
he has to get his socks on to get to school. He is more interested in the book he
found while hunting for socks. All these schedules, habits, routines adults have
created aren't necessarily the most important things to give attention to.
mother of budding scientist
My daughter is still like this at 8. Very distractable. I have asked her teachers
the same thing - ''does she have ADHD?'' They all say, no, she focuses well at
school. My husband reminds me that my first son was like this at that age too,
and he turned it around about age 11. I just call her my ''airy fairy'' and try to
keep my sense of humor. It is frustrating, but if it is not interfering with his
learning, I wouldn't worry that something is wrong at this point.
Mama of an ''Airy Fairy''
I know exactly how you feel! My almost seven-year-old son
is the same way. I hear it's very common, especially with
boys. My doctor has said not to worry about it too much.
Yes, it's very frustrating. What we've done is either post
signs/labels (if he can't read that much, slowly teach him
the words) around the house and that does help - some.
Another thing we've done is get a book called ''Parenting
with Love and Logic''. It's really creative parenting and
makes so many things fun. It also makes kids think about
every action they make and teaches us all how to be more
independant. The third thing we've done is have him do
chores. He sets the table every third night, (we have two
other sons - ages five and two and our five does not have
the issue) helps gather the trash, makes and unmakes his
own bed (takes the sheets off for laundry) and sorts his
own clothes. Huge difference. He still has his moments,
but enjoys helping and teaching his younger brothers how
to help as well. Mommy is much more sane now and I yell a
lot less. And if I'm going to be totally honest, my
husband and I were in counseling and we talked to her
about this. She said it can be a quiet rebellion and
control issue. He knows it upsets you and when you're
upset, he has control. It's empowering and very scary for
them all at the same time. Hope this helps!
My grandson has serious language processing problems. It is
hard for him to take in and remember oral information.
language and he has problems expressing himself. You can
put in writing that you would like your son to be tested by
the school speech therapist just to make sure this is not
the issue. The school is legally obligated to act on this,
I think within 60 days. My grandson began getting help when
he was three years old. The sooner speech issues are dealt
with the better. Educators don't always recognize when a
child has a speech difficulty.
I totally feel you. my child is very similar, although he's
6 now. He's also incredibly bright, friendly, well-liked,
yet sometimes totally tuned out or, actually, totally tuned
in...like to what is going on in his head (he has an
He also struggles to remember things (and I remember having
that same problem as a child, too.). He just finished his
kindergarten year and I tell you, biiiiig improvement. His
report cards at first from school showed across the board
lack of listening and doing as asked. his last report card
showed that he was doing well in those categories, and, when
he's challenged, he has tremendous focus. He still can
''space out/in'' but it is improving.
Our teachers told us that what he's doing is quite normal
still and that he should continue to be watched. They said
that a possible eval for ADD (not hyperactive) would be
appropriate if it lingers into first grade, but that so far
I'd say follow your gut and listen to your teachers. If you
find him ''normal'' enough and he is doing well overall, you
may want to wait. but an eval won't hurt him either. just
don't think about drugs or anything like that.
My first grader constantly forgets to bring his belongings home
from school. Each day it is something - clothing, books, lunch
box, etc. I'm not a perfectionist, but I'm really frustrated
that everyday it is something! Does anyone have any strategies
for dealing with this problem - or is it a fact of life at this age?
It is a fact of life at this age. First graders are adjusting to
a full day in school, running with the ''big kids'' on the
playground, some homework, etc. And they are only 6 or 7...it is
a huge adjustment for the whole family. Can you tape a list
inside his backpack? Can you talk to the teacher about whether
the kids are properly using their cubbies or bins or whatever
organizational system the the teacher has? (and they *all* have
organizational systems of some sort) I'm not saying to make it
the teacher's responsibility, but maybe she can tell the whole
class to be sure to put their things in one place so they
remember them. Also, when you pick up your son, you could run
through a list of what he should have, then he can run back in
and get them.
It might be just that he's 'young' but this issue is called
executive functioning. Other features are general
disorganization, not understanding implicit strategies, working
memory issues, not understanding the passage of time, and
possibly not picking up on room or social cues. If this sounds
familiar then you want to learn more about this area. It
doesn't go away and you need to get ahead of the curve on the
topic. The strategy for school would be to take a photo of him
LOOKING the way he would look if he were ready to come home
(showing him with the items backpack, jacket, lunch, books,
etc.) and then have his teacher say, John, ''MATCH THE
PICTURE''. Lists are not as effective, you are trying to engage
the other part of his brain which can ''see'' the result he is
trying to achieve. Also I would give a reward and praise for
every day he comes home with everything - not just that he's
doing what's expected. This obviously isn't easy. Anyway I
got this picture idea from Sarah Ward, her website is
Exec func mom
Welcome to the club!! Overtime, hopefully they grow out of
it. I have the reverse happening now. My kids do homework,
but forget to take them to school and sometimes forget to even
turn it in! LOL. Believe me, you're not alone. :)
In my experience, it some ways it is typical of the age, and in
other ways it can be due to his so-far learned sense of
responsibility. At home, how much responsibility does he have
for keeping his toys, clothes, shoes, bed, etc. in order? If the
answer is not much, then that is probably translating to lack of
organization with possessions at school. I would start by
establishing a routine jacket, lunchbox, homework, etc at home --
such as they always go in a certain place and he always has
four items, and reinforce it every morning until it is routine.
-- lucky mom of seemingly naturally organized kid
Are our children talking to each other? Because my 1st grader is
doing the same! Took her 3 days to bring home her homework packet
then we spent 45 min doing it all so she was caught up.
I have no answers except I have to remind her everyday -
literally. And finally on WED morning, I told her if you don't
bring it home, looks like no TV for the rest of the week (and we
don't watch TV during the week) ... but it worked.
Take something away - like their favorite item, and they can have
it back when they remember to bring home what they are supposed
to. That works for us (sometimes!)
this page was last updated: Oct 1, 2010
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