Forgetfull Princess

Updated on September 05, 2008
D.M. asks from Clayton, CA
9 answers

Where do I start!!

My 9 year old daughter is nearly perfect in every way...or so i feel of course!! ;) She has wonderful grades, she is loving to everyone she meets..especially me and her sisters. She is thoughtful..(notes around the house telling me she loves me, notes in my purse, text messages etc etc) Polite, respectful, courteous...I constantly get good comments from other parents and teachers about her...anyhow, how can I complain right???...she has chronic forgetfulness and it drives me insane!!! I often lose my patience with her. i will ask her to go get her hair brush before her shower, and she comes back with a book to read...not only did she forget the brush, she forgot she was supposed to be getting ready for the shower all together!!! last night I found a check I had written for her lunch account at school she was supposed to turn in… her pocket from MAY!!! All crumpled up from being washed so many times. lol!!! When I say chronic, I mean chronic. Every morning and evening her chore is to feed the cats and give them fresh water. And every morning and evening I have to remind her. Every night she has a notebook for school that has to be signed, and every night I have to remind her. Certain days during the week she has to take an additional bag to school for after school sports and she always forgets it. I can't count the amount of leotards I have had to run to the store to buy because her bag is at home across town. it doesn't help that she has a 10 year old sister that remembers everything...I work 40+ hours a week, and also have a 1 year old, so I try to remind her as much as possible but it gets really old and I get overwhelmed….She wanted the darn cats, not me!!!  Her father and I have not been together since she was 9 months old, so we have our routine when we get home from school, but that goes out the door the days he picks her up. I try for consistency but he is just as bad as she is!!!! She lives with me so he drops her off after his evenings with her, but again...I say please go unpack your clothes from dads house and get ready for bed...and again, she is on her bed looking through a magazine for Halloween costumes!! I know there is this whole ADD thing, but she only do this at home, so I can’t for a second believe it is something like that. I ask her Dad (he and I are on very good terms and have been for years) does she do that at your house and he really wouldn’t know because he forgets everything also!! Not to mention she has no responsibilities at his house because the time is limited over there because she does live with me…so I can’t fault him for that. I feel just awful when I get impatient with her because she is so wonderful everywhere else. In every other aspect, she is a child you just dream for. I try to pick and choose my battles, but I just can’t take having to tell her to do something four and five times. Not exaggerating…really four and five times!!! I have tried chore charts, bribery, allowance, taking things away. Am I asking for too much? I feel like we lose out on quality time (which is especially precious to me as I have to share her with her Dad) because she has so much to do or it takes her so long because she gets side tracked. I am out of ideas and really would like her to learn responsibility and how to remember things. Does anyone have any ideas to help, or at least some reassurance that a lot of kids are like this and I am not a bad Mom for getting so frustrated with her!! My day to day seems to be a constant struggle with this and it’s wearing on our relationship. I don’t know what else to do….

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answers from San Francisco on

This sounds funny due to I thought only my daughter did this I have a 14teen yr old who has been doing this for years, but she only does this because this is not what she wants to do, she gets good grades and she is a great kid as well, i say just stay on her dont allow her to do what she wants to do! when it's time for my daughter to clean up she finds everything else that needs to be done, homework, her hair then sometimes she just pull the oh i forgot one!!

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answers from San Francisco on

I can't help thinking a lot of this is just over-load.
Some kids are fine with a constant barrage of stuff to do and keep track of, and some kids need more empty space.
There's a lot going on with this kid - two households, school, siblings, activities.
It doesn't sound so much ADD-like to me, as just unwillingness to be that "on" all the time.
Though, of course it's frustrating, especially if this is a re-play of living with her dad.
If it's any help, my own dreamy kid turned into an organizing fiend at about 17.

But it doesn't teach your kid to be responsible for you to be running after her about all these different tasks.
What you need to do is back off a little, and let her realize that these are not *your* issues, but her own.

How about re-structuring things a bit?

What happens if you just leave the bag from her dad's house?
She probably has plenty of stuff to wear anyway.
So the worst result is that a batch of clothing just isn't ready for her later, because it's still in the bag.
Her problem, not yours.
Can all the spare leotards just ride around in the car, even if the bag is elsewhere?
She doesn't have all the other stuff in the bag, but you don't have to go haring off after yet another outfit.
Can you just let her go to school with an unsigned notebook?
Let her deal with the consequences at school, so that it starts mattering to her if it isn't done.
The cats, though, do need to be fed.
Maybe, she doesn't eat til they do.
No dinner, no breakfast, no leaving the house for her til cats are done.

Eventually it levels out.
I think at this age they are just gathering strength for their adolescence.

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answers from San Francisco on

Try making a checklist, stick it on the door or somewhere, use star stickers for her to put next to her tasks. Then write out her routine. When you wake up: Feed cats, Brush teeth, etc. Good luck, I know it's frustrating.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi D.,

I agree with the others who have suggested that she be left with the natural consequences of her behavior (sit out of dance class, miss a sports practice, consequences with the teacher for not getting her notebook signed,etc.).

Perhaps you could combine that with some kind of reward system. My son has a list of chores and personal responsibilities that he must do every day. For each day he remembers, I give him a sticker (he is younger than your daughter) on his "good job" paper (not a fancy chart - just a piece of paper with stickers on it). When he reaches a pre-determined number of stickers, he gets a reward of some kind. We do not do this all the time. When he starts slipping in his responsibilities or when we are introducing new expectations, we start with the sticker paper and stick with it for a month or two. Once the behavior is established,we often let it go for a while.

Don't try to change all her behaviors at once. Maybe you could start with remembering everything needed for school in the morning, and remembering to get her notebook signed for school.

Good luck. It sounds like you have wonderful children and are doing a great job at parenting.


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answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like you're doing the best you know for your blended family. This child is sending a signal that she's overwhelmed and over programmed. She needs some down time AND SOME TIME ALONE WITH MOM. Pick her up early from the after school program or childcare. How about going for a walk with her (put those cats in a harness and take them along) just two times a week? Let her talk while you listen. She needs to feel special just for herself. Look at the changing seasons, smell the flowers, pick some fruit or veggies and eat them on the spot. Turn off the radio in the car and take turns sharing. The older girls will benefit from your TIME intended just for each of them. The baby is learning to walk and will get everyone's attention for basic needs in the next couple of years. Nine year old kids are building emotional synapses in the brain and will be sensitive to changes in marital/relationship status as in new baby and another husband for mom or wife/relationships for dad let alone new class at school, friends, extra-curricular activities like more classes for gymnastics or dance or sports. Give her hugs every time the baby needs changing or feeding. Show her what she needs to do for her cats' care. Help her understand how it might feel to go unfed or uncleaned and remind her how comforted she feels when she's fed and clean and loved. Best wishes. a little about me: I'm mother to three and grandmother to one 8 year old; retired teacher and advocate for children and families with parents involved in education. S.

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answers from San Francisco on

I would recomend the book Parenting with Love and Logic to help you learn to better deal with your daughter's "forgetfulness". She sounds like a normal 9 year old (and I have worked with many) that would prefer to read a magaizine then to take a bath and knows that if she forgets a leotard it will be no big deal because mom will buy a new one. I can't tell you how many students forget musical instruments or lunches on a regular basis. The ones that continue to forget are the ones that have parents that bring it to school for them. The ones that have an improved memory are the students who go without lunch for a day or sit through music class without participating. Your daughter is so lucky to have your support, but one day you might not be available, and the stakes might be a lot higher than a forgotten leotard.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have a very forgetful princess too. She often gets lost from the kitchen to her bedroom. LOL!!! I had to learn to let her reap some of the consequences of her forgetfulness (ei: no leotard means no class, not another new leotard) and in other instances take the responsibility out of her hands (ei: giving the check for lunch to her older sister since she is more responsible.) Writing down what is expected of her also is very helpful. Maybe write her notes like she writes you, loving reminders...

Try to be patient. My daughter is now 11 and is slowly becoming less forgetful. She is becoming much more responsible for staying on track, but I don't know if I'll ever get to the point of not having to remind her to do things. Maybe it has something to do with being a second child, I don't know. I am often reminded of Bill Cosby "Himself," when he talks about having to repeat commands over and over to the "brain-damaged children" and laugh to myself! (If you haven't seen it, rent it, you'll laugh hysterically and it'll bring some levity to your situation with your daughter!)

What strikes me is her thoughtfulness and general good disposition. I'm curious if it is possible to let this go a bit for the sake of your relationship with her and accept a little that this is part of who she is, and as she matures it will get better.

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answers from Phoenix on

Hi--Your daughter sounds like a gem, but I can see your frustration! As an outsider, and a teacher of this age group I can tell you that what you are experiencing is not unusual. I too had notebooks that needed daily signatures and at least 1/3 of the kids could never get this done.

What I have to suggest is that your daughter may need visual cues to help her remember things instead of the current auditory cues-- which turn into nagging and frustration for you. How about a small sign with a picture of her notebook on it with "Did Mom sign this?" posted on the door she leaves the house from. Another sign on the fridge with a cat and an empty bowl and the words, "Did you feed me today?" As a visual learner myself, I have always had a hard time remembering things that were said to me but no difficulty remembering things I either wrote down or saw. It might be even more helpful to have your daughter make the signs herself and post them where she thinks they'd be most noticed. You can explain to her that this is a way to make her life run smoother because now that she is a big girl she can become responsible for reminding herself of important things. Best of luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

Have you sought the advice of a medical doctor? If she were male he would be "labeled" ADA with that kind of behavior. Girls symptoms are a little more discreet. They also go through a stage were they are "airheads" and them come back around to "reality". My suggestion is to have a doctor check it out and if everything is OK then pray for a return to her norm. You are very fortunate to have three daughters.

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