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MomTalk.com November 19, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Forgetful Son: Good Enough Moms

A three-generational column by Twin Cities' Dr. Marti Erickson
with her daughter, Erin Erickson Garner, and her mom, Betty Farrell

Q: My 10-year-old son is unbelievably disorganized and forgetful. He brings his school papers home all wadded up in his backpack and never seems to be sure what assignments he's supposed to do and when.

A three-generational column by Twin Cities' Dr. Marti Erickson with her daughter, Erin Erickson Garner, and her mom, Betty Farrell

Q: My 10-year-old son is unbelievably disorganized and forgetful. He brings his school papers home all wadded up in his backpack and never seems to be sure what assignments he's supposed to do and when. Even with simple tasks at home, when we tell him to go brush his teeth and wash his face, he forgets the second thing by the time he's done the first. Even though he's a smart kid, we're worried that his forgetfulness and lack of organization will interfere with his success at school -- not to mention drive us nuts at home. How can we help get him on track?

Marti: Oh my gosh, I think I'm married to your son! (I wish my husband's parents had asked someone this question years ago.)

Erin: Your son sounds a lot like me too! (I was even placed in remedial math classes in first grade because I did not complete my math assessment - it was wadded up in my desk and I'd forgotten about it.) Working with your son to find an "organizational system" that he can easily follow might help keep him on track. Talk with him about what might work best. Maybe you can go out and let him pick out a cool 3-ring binder with folders for each class. Label everything, so there is no question where everything goes. If everything has a place, he'll have an easier time putting things in their place. And to help him with at-home tasks, especially those everyday things like brushing his teeth and washing his face, place reminders for him in prominent locations. For example, write, "wash your face and brush your teeth," in big letters on a piece of paper, laminate it (so it won't get ruined by the splashing water) and place it on the bathroom mirror. Each day, spend a few minutes with him when he gets home from school going over everything from school -- organizing his papers, writing down due dates, making a to-do-list for that evening. Gradually, he should learn to do it on his own.

Betty: Erin's suggestions are good ones, and she knows since her mom had to do those things with her. But you also might want to talk to your son's teacher to find out what she or he thinks. It's pretty common for kids that age to be disorganized, but the teacher would know if your son has a problem that needs special attention.

Marti: Yes, I think it would be wise for you and your son's teacher to work together using some of the same strategies to help him get organized, especially now that he's getting to an age where demands at school will be increasingly complex. Keep track of his progress and praise him for trying hard and staying focused. Then, if he still isn't able to be more organized and complete his assignments, you and the teacher may want to seek the advice of a school psychologist who can help determine if there's an underlying learning disability or attention problem that would benefit from special intervention.

GEMs Multi-generational photo.JPG
Marti Erickson, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and director of the Harris Training Programs at the University of Minnesota. A well-known public speaker, writer, and media commentator, Marti also is the mother of two adult kids and three young grandchildren.

Erin Erickson Garner, Marti's daughter, is a writer and a specialist in maternal and child health. She currently is home with her two young children except for Saturdays, when she and her mom co-host the Good Enough MomsTM radio show on WFMP-Radio, FM107.1 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Betty Farrell, Marti's mom, lives in Houston, TX, and is known fondly as "Grandma Betty" to Erin and her kids.



Categories: School-Age, Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare,


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