If your child seems to forget everything that you ask them to do, you are not alone. While it isn't intentional that your child with ADHD forgets what is asked of them, it can be frustrating and lead to problems in school, at home, and in social settings.
This article will explore what working memory is, if working memory deficits are apparent in children with ADHD, as well as strategies to help improve your child's memory.
Does ADHD Cause Forgetfulness?
The short answer to this question is, yes. While forgetfulness can be a normal part of child development, it can also be a symptom of ADHD. For instance, children may forget things because they are not paying attention, they are not very interested in the task, or because they are overwhelmed and stressed.
Children with ADHD have difficulty focusing, which can lead to problems with remembering things. They may forget to do tasks assigned to them, forget to bring home their homework, forget to complete homework assignments, or forget appointments and events.
If you believe that your child's inability to remember things is impacting their performance in school or becomes a problem at home, it might be helpful to consult with a health care provider or mental health professional to determine the causes of the forgetfulness and develop effective strategies for improving their memory.
What Is Working Memory?
Working memory is important for completing everyday tasks, such as following instructions, solving problems, and understanding language. It allows us to hold information for a long enough period, so that we can use it.
Working memory is a type of short-term memory that is utilized for storing and manipulating information in the process of completing a task. Information in working memory is typically only held for a few seconds to a few minutes and has a very limited capacity.
Working Memory Deficits
Working memory is essential for learning and problem-solving, and deficits in working memory in ADHD children can affect their ability to learn and do well in school.
There are many factors that can contribute to working memory deficits in children. For instance, children with ADHD and/or developmental disorders such as dyslexia can display working memory deficits.
With that said, working memory deficits are evident in children with ADHD. Research has indicated that impairments in central executive working memory are present in most children who have ADHD, causing significant problems in daily activities.
Helping Your ADHD Child with Forgetfulness
If you become concerned about your child's forgetfulness, there are a variety of different strategies you can try to help your child remember things more effectively. These strategies can include breaking down large tasks into smaller ones, asking for their full attention before asking for something, encouraging them to write things down, engaging in memory games, and practicing organization skills.
Try memory exercises and games
Another strategy that parents can consider implementing to help their ADHD child strengthen their brain, improve executive functioning abilities, improve long term memory, and reduce stress are memory exercises and memory games.
Memory games are a fun and effective way to improve your child's working memory and cognitive skills. Here are a few examples of games the whole family can try:
- Visualization. For this game, you can show your child a series of pictures in order and then have your child close their eyes and visualize the pictures in their mind. You can even take it a step further and have your child choose which picture went in which order.
- Word Recall. In this game, you can improve your child's verbal memory by saying a series of words and having your child repeat them back to you immediately after.
- Concentration. This is a card game that requires your child to match pairs of cards. In this game, children must be aware of where various cards are located in order to find its match.
- Association. In this game, children can improve their memory by associating new words or information to something that they are already familiar with, like an object or concept.
How Joon Can Help Memory in Children
Joon is a routine app designed for children with ADHD (ages 6-12). Joon motivates children to focus and stay on top of their tasks. Using a video game platform, parents can assign tasks as "quests" and then Joon will do the rest!
Try your free 7-day trial with Joon today!
Your child will choose a virtual pet to take care of by completing the tasks that are assigned to them. 90% of children who use Joon complete all of the Quests that are assigned to them!
Using Joon will help kids develop their executive functioning skills, improve memory, build routines, and increase independence.
Encourage your child to pay attention
If your child has difficulty paying attention because there is just too much stimulation and things going on around them, consider reducing distractions.
For instance, if you have the TV on while your child is sitting at the kitchen table, completing their homework, turn the TV off and provide an environment that is quiet and distraction-free. If your child is trying to complete their homework in their room, but they are distracted and instead, playing with their toys, consider moving your child's "homework area" to a different section of the house.
Break down big tasks
Large, multi-step tasks can be overwhelming to any child, with or without ADHD. Therefore, try breaking the tasks down into smaller simple step instructions so that the task becomes manageable and easy for your child to remember.
For instance, it may be helpful to create a list or flowchart for your child to follow. You can even try using a to-do list app, like Joon to help keep your child on track and aware of what tasks they need to complete.
Ask for full attention before asking for something
Sometimes, when asking a child to do something, they are already engaging in another task or activity. For instance, maybe your child is watching TV or playing a game with their sibling. When you want your child to complete a task, it is important to ask your child to focus and to stop what they're currently doing. These are simple parenting strategies that can make a huge difference in daily life.
Encourage them to write things down
When using a visual aid, such as writing something down, you are helping your child build their working memory and executive function skills. Writing a task down serves as a visual reminder for your child on what needs to be completed.
For instance, consider having your child write three things down that you would like them to complete when they get home from school. This can include, finishing a math worksheet, organizing their backpack, and going for a walk with mom before dinner. This is a great tip to use if your child tends to struggle with remembering what they need to do when they get home from school.
Practice organization skills
Organization skills are important for children to develop, as it can help them be successful in school and their daily life. Organization is also a skill that they will carry on with them into adulthood. You can help your child practice their organization skills by trying the following simple strategies:
- Teach and encourage your child to make a daily to-do list. To-do lists are important for reminding children (and adults) the tasks and responsibilities that need to be completed.
- Have a designated study space in the house for your child to complete their homework assignments and study for tests. This will help your child stay focused and organized when completing their homework.
- Encourage your child to put things away, such as toys, games, and books, when they are finished using them. This will help children keep their room organized and clutter-free.
- Have a set time each week for your child to get organized. This can include your child organizing their back pack and getting rid of old papers, etc. With a set time, this will get your child into the habit of staying organized.
It can be a challenge for your child with ADHD to remember things, as they might have difficulty with paying attention or retaining the information. You are not alone! However, there are a variety of strategies that you, as a parent, can implement to help your child with their memory. Together, you can develop a plan and recognize what works to support your child's learning and memory skills at home, in the classroom, and in daily life.