Two simple words, “I forgot”, can trigger a wide variety of emotions. If you forget your phone at home as your rush out the door, your forgetfulness triggers feelings of panic and anxiety over what will happen if you do not have it all day. If you forget to take out that one red sock, you feel frustration. I’m sure we’ve all felt the sadness and disappoint that comes when you forget to sign up for something in time and your child misses out on a missed opportunity. And then, especially around this time of year, there is always that feeling of worry that you are going to forget to buy a present for someone.
All those feelings are around things that we’ve forgotten to do. What about the spectrum of emotions when someone else says “I forgot”? If a friend forgets your birthday and calls a day later, you feel compassion, understanding and are touched by their admission. If a fellow parent agreed to pick up your child and then forgot, you will feel everything from rage to fear to nervousness to panic and everything in between. Or what about when you make plans with someone, only to receive a text apologizing that they forgot and are now double booked so they cannot come? That scenario can lead to disappointment and can spiral into so much more if you let your mind run away with it.
Why all this talk about forgetfulness? Because it’s a phrase that I’ve been hearing on a weekly basis with my twelve-year-old. The phrase has been spoken so many times that I feel as though I have gone through each one of the emotions listed above. Frustration is the most frequent feeling, especially when it relates to school work. Forgetting to do homework or to turn something in seems like a simple task from my adult perspective. What I have had to recognize is that this is not an issue of will, it is an issue of skill. Junior high is a whole new world with different teacher personalities and teaching styles. Add in the social aspects, which often supersede everything, and it’s easy to see why things slip through the cracks. So what do we do? First approach the situation with compassion, leave the frustration, anger and fear at the door because they are not going to help this situation. Have a heart to heart conversation to find out why your child thinks that they are having trouble remembering (the reason may not be what you think it is). Next, brainstorm ideas with your child on what things would help them to remember. Maybe it’s writing more things down in a planner or setting a reminder in their phone or making a list of the 3 things that they must get done today. Or, together you could go the store to pick out different colored folders and bright sticky notes that will help them stay organized. Your child must be actively involved in the solution or else it will not work. And be prepared, the first try might not work. You need to be prepared to try a few different things before one of them really sticks.
“I forgot” by definition, is unintentional. They aren’t doing it on purpose (even though it may feel like it at times). We can only help them when we meet them at the level where they are at and build from there. We didn’t become multi-taskers overnight and can’t expect that they will either. Ultimately though, it’s up to your child. You can’t do it for them and that’s a hard lesson to learn as a parent. The older they get the more you realize you can advise, but it is their experience and one they must learn all on their own.
Feeling frustrated with a situation with your kids, but not sure what do to to do next or how to get started? Direct message or email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up time to talk.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.