Does this sound familiar: your child forgot their lunch at home, or forgot to bring home a note from school. Or your child cannot find their favorite toy, lost their homework assignment, or misplaced their tablet.
Everyone is forgetful sometimes. Even as adults, we forget things—but the main difference between adults and children is that adults understand the consequences of forgetting things. As adults, we have accepted that when we forget something, we have to live with that mistake. Children, however, are just transitioning from their infant and toddler stages, when nearly everything was taken care of. If they forgot a toy, mom or dad would find it.
It is important as parents to know how to discipline when your child is forgetful. Disciplining the proper way will teach self-reliance and responsibility. The key is to never shame your child but to help them understand cause and effect of forgetting something. Oftentimes, forgetting something carries its own punishment. Additional punishment from parents is often unnecessary and can make your child feel worse than they need to.
It’s best, then, not to discipline your child when they are forgetful in most scenarios. Talk to them ahead of time or after the fact about the consequences of forgetting something. Most of the time, helping your child be more responsible and remember to take care of themselves involves making your child more self-reliant. You would be surprised at how much your young child can accomplish, so feel free to assign chores and other responsibilities.
The final part of talking to your child about forgetfulness is to not correct all of their mistakes. Jumping to their aid will only help them internalize that forgetful behavior is okay. Of course, there are limitations to this kind of reaction. If your child forgot something extremely important, it’s okay to help them and then later explain the importance of remembering.
If you need help explaining to your child the importance of remembering responsibilities and taking ownership of mistakes, we can help. Simply schedule an appointment and we can help both you and your child start the conversation on a path to responsibility and mindfulness.