As parents we’re always telling our kids “don’t forget” this or that, but it might not really be helping as much as we hope. We remind them “don’t forget to put your library books in your backpack,” but before we’ve even finished saying the words, we start thinking they’re going to forget. And it turns out “don’t forget” may actually be a waste-of-time command.
Time management expert Leslie Josel explains that the brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised, but if parents are the only ones calling the shots, telling our kids where to be and reminding them not to forget their soccer bag, it’s only our brains getting exercised, not our kids. So to help our children form their own connections and exercise their brains, try asking this simple question instead: “How are you going to remember that?”
It makes them have to stop and come up with solutions and that’s a skill they’re going to need for the rest of their lives. Leslie says with older kids and teens, she likes to ask “What’s your plan” because it’s “softer and sounds more like curiosity than nagging.” By asking your teen: “What’s your plan to get that paper written because we’re going to grandma’s this weekend?” you’re giving them the chance to think it through and not just reminding them.
“What you’re doing is helping them see time,” Leslie says. “You’re helping them see future time. All of a sudden their brain is forced to actually think ahead.” Now, their plan may not always work out, and they’ll still forget things. But the shift in language puts it on them and hopefully if their plan doesn’t work this time, they’ll come up with a better one next time.