Six Year Old Frequently Losing Her Things

Updated on June 26, 2019
N.Z. asks from Los Angeles, CA
15 answers

My 6 year old (7 next month) who will be entering the first grade in the fall frequently forgets her jacket at school. Last school year, she lost two jackets (even though they had her name on them) and left her jackets at school a number of times overnight or longer, which we were eventually able to find.

She’s been in summer camp at her school since last week and she’s already left her jacket at school twice. Once last week, which we were able to find and yesterday, which the counselor said she would keep an eye out for.

How can I help her to be more responsible of her things?


The weather's been cloudy in the morning at drop off and in the 60s, but the sun comes out later in the day around noon. She goes to school in a short-sleeved shirt and a light jacket over it. This question isn't necessarily just about the jackets, but being responsible with other personal items too.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I tried to convince her to not take a jacket, but she refused -- she said she gets cold sometimes and needs it. I guess I'll just have to remind her to put it away in her backpack when she takes it off.

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answers from Indianapolis on

She's a kid. My 12 year old would lose her head if it wasn't attached to her shoulders. (I finally get to use that line after my mother said the same to me when I was growing up). Anyway this is normal. My daughter lost so many jackets and cups. Her school allows kids to bring water so cups are lost all the time. I will be watching for tips to see what others have done to help their forgetful children. Good luck!!

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Springfield on

Keep in mind, she's 6. It's not crazy for 6 year olds to struggle with this. Heck, my 13-year-old-soon-to-be-7th grader struggles. They have these huge tables at his junior high with all the lost and found items that kids have not picked up. As a parent, it seems ridiculous! How do you loose your Under Armour slides? Or Nike sweatshirt? (maybe it's partly because I pay for these items!!!!!!)

You could try asking the teacher to help you out. At the end of the day, maybe the teacher could ask all the kids to make sure they have their jackets or lunch box or whatever. Does she have a hook at school where she puts her jacket and backpack? As you drop her off, you could say, "Don't forget to hang up your jacket!" Maybe if she gets into the habit of hanging up her jacket it will be right there on the hook when she's getting ready to leave. Maybe the teacher will have an idea for you.

Do you take her to school? And pick her up? Can she run back in and get it if she forgets?

Maybe you could leave a note in her backpack that says, "Don't forget your jacket!"

This is just so normal. It's definitely something she can work on, but it's also completely normal.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Yeah - they do that.
I think it's almost a required description to be included in 'what is typical for a 7 yr old'.
You get good with going to lost and found - sometimes right into middle school.
With our son he would sometimes forget and other times a friend had the same jacket and they each took the others home with them.

In the grand scale of things losing a jacket is not that bad.
Losing glasses or a retainer (or a phone or iPad) is a lot more expensive.
(As far as personal items go - don't overwhelm them.
If taking something with them for the day is optional - tell them to leave it at home.)
This is when you rethink how long they will wear a jacket before they out grow it or lose it - and you realize it's something that is fine to get something really cheap.
If it's cheap enough - get two - so you have a spare for when the first goes missing.
Or you can pick one up in a consignment store.

You can try reminding them about it but you'll just get hoarse doing that and it's really something they just have to out grow.
Most of them get better by the end of elementary school but a few linger in this stage through high school.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

She needs a routine. My kids had them from the start - whether it was daycare/preschool/home/school - jackets/hats/hoodies/belongings went in cubbies or on hooks.

Keep it the same wherever she goes. Some kids need more structure/routine than others. Kids who are a bit 'scatterbrained' (or who just get to a place, see kids or toys, or activity - and go!) need routine even more.

There are kids who go through life like this and become adults who misplace stuff - keys, etc. It's just their personalities. Those are the people who need those places right by the door for their keys, etc.

We always had a cubby by the door for each of our kids when they were little (that age) and everything went there at end of day. Otherwise, we never would have found their stuff. It mimicked what it was like elsewhere. Even if it's unorganized at summer camp (and you can't always expect counselors or teachers to keep an eye out for everyone's gear), just get her to put it in one spot every single day or her bag. Who is picking her up? If it's dad, tell dad - GET her jacket before you go. Have a post it note in the car by dash to remind him (or a reminder on his phone) whatever works.

At 6, not all kiddos remember this. I always reminded mine when picking up from sports, activities, etc. "Do you have water bottle?" etc.

If she doesn't have a backpack, maybe pack her one, and everything she takes off, goes inside. That way, all together and doesn't get mixed up with everyone's else's stuff. Easy for her to grab at end of day.

Good luck :)

ETA - just wanted to add, at that age mine brought home other kids' snowpants from school (one time, my kid wore two pairs home, one pair on top of the other..), hats, mitts have been lost, lost water bottles .. etc. It's kind of the norm, so know that even with routines this happens to most kids and families.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i guess it depends on how high this hill to die on is.

this is a notoriously absent- minded age. so do keep that in mind. it's not an excuse, and kids DO need to learn to keep track of their things. but she's really very young, isn't she?

so you can dive into it hardcore and accept that there will be a long unhappy learning curve. i remember my parents deciding that i needed to start making my bed every day, after 12 years of it not being a thing at all. their method was to take away my riding lesson on saturday if i missed a single day during the week. after a month of no lessons i did finally start remembering. maybe it was worth it to my parents, but if they knew the degree of anger and frustration and sadness that month caused me, i have to wonder if my stupid bed was worth it.

but it worked. eventually.

or you could devise a reminder checklist and go over it with her at breakfast, at school pickup, and before bed. maybe create some sort of fun reward if she goes a week without losing anything.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It's super common for kids to do this as they get distracted with friends.
Imagine walking into your door every day and you are greeted with: a barking dog dropping a ball at your feet, your phone ringing, your child yelling from the back bedroom for help with something, your husband coming to you with his computer trying to order airline tickets or showing you something.

It's brain overload.
So the easiest thing to try is say: "daughter as soon as you take off your jacket at school walk it to your backpack & put it away". If she's outside, "wrap it around your waist then put in backpack as soon as you return to school".

Teach her at home with everything:
-she comes in & immediately hangs up her jacket
-she comes in the front door, takes off her shoes and where do they go? By the front door or in her closet (wherever your family puts them)
-she finishes a craft at home, tell her to clean up her work area & put the crafts back in their place (we put them in those clear shoe boxes)
-she sees you walk in put your keys in the same place every day by the door, take your shoes off & put them where you keep them in your house, putting your purse by the door etc.

Tell her where things go, have her do it, follow up and most importantly....model by example!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Some kids just tend to lose their stuff a lot. And this can continue through high school. You can either drive yourself crazy over it, or just accept that a certain amount of loss is going to come with this child, and maybe don't spend too much on some of the items. It's really not worth stressing yourself out over.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My kids were both like this at age 6, 7, and 8. Do you pick her up? Check if she has things then and if not make her go back and get them. If she gets a bus ride home you are out of luck. I would remind my kids every day but they still would forget things till they got a little older and more mature. Another idea is maybe clip on a list on her backpack hanging on the outside for her to see at the end of the day and go get her things. I worked on getting my kids to ALWAYS put their jacket/water bottle back in their backpack when they were not using it anymore. Not to leave it on the playground or on the floor but to put it back in the backpack. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure there's much you can do. Our elementary school lost and found bin was ALWAYS overflowing with lost items, mostly jackets and sweatshirts! I learned early on not to buy expensive outerwear for school and camp.
And for what it's worth, we definitely had a routine, I provided bins, baskets, hooks and a million reminders, all to no avail.
I certainly wouldn't make her pay for it, as someone below suggested, BUT she can always go to camp without it. If it's "cold" she can wear a long sleeve shirt, and remind her that you can't afford to keep replacing items that she can't keep track of.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Welcome to parenting, every parent has gone through this, and many will continue to do so for years! My former SIL's kid would still lose things as a teen, and then when he was in his 20s. My own child lost a couple of jackets. The only solution I could find would be to ask about it at the time of pickup, and tell her that until she finds it, we aren't going home. Eventually, after seeing what a drag it was to waste time looking for a jacket when she was super tired and wanted to go home, she kept better track of things. Putting her name on the tag also helped, in cases where another kid maybe accidentally picked up her jacket and put it on. My co-worker buys hoodies in packs, I think at Wal-Mart, and I think she said they were $4 each. The reason she buys each of her grandkids 4-5 hoodies each, is for this very reason. The price tag is such a negligible amount that if it does end up lost, it's not going to be a big hit on the pocket.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My kids both frequently left things at school. I got into the habit of asking them at pickup to make sure they had everything and if not they had to go back and get it. If the child's teacher is willing to work with you on this that will help. Talk to the camp staff and her next teacher to see how they can help you keep track of things you don't want lost. Last school year I had 4 students that I had to help with keeping track of hat, scarf, hair accessories or jackets. So school staff should support you in this.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

When one of mine was in 1st grade, he forgot stuff at school all the time. I put a luggage tag on his backpack zipper pull and instead of contact info, I put a sticker that said "Folder? Jacket? Lunchbox?" The simple visual reminder (which he couldn't overlook) solved it most of the time.

After a few months, the tag fell off but he was in the habit of gathering his stuff so he didn't need it anymore.

So, my comment is that this is really typical of a child this age - their attention spans aren't all that long yet and at the end of the day they are tired. If there is a simple way to remind her (like the luggage tag was for us), please use it and try not to make this into a global "my child is irresponsible" thing. Tackle the specific issues one at a time and help her develop good habits (such as having a list and checking it, etc).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I won't make any "jacket in summer" comments because according to LA is in the 60s now.

BUT - if it is easy for her to forget a jacket, that means she does not *need* it.

Of course that's no excuse for being irresponsible with personal belongings, but pretty much anything that can go away over and over that easily, take it as a sign that you should be more choosy about days when you have her wear a jacket. (I am figuring that she would not forget her jacket during a blizzard.)

Dress her for this in-between weather. Maybe have her wear a heavy-weight shirt or sweatshirt and figure she will not take it off.

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answers from Denver on

You can try buying her a super cheap, plain jacket at a thrift store, like Goodwill. They have tons of them. When she complains that it's a boring old brown jacket, you remind her that she lost the cool pink jacket with the sparkles (or whatever her favorite jacket is), and when she can keep track of her jacket, she can earn back the right to have a fun one.

If she doesn't care what her jacket looks like, then save yourself the trouble and go to Goodwill anyway and buy a jacket for a dollar.

And make sure that going to retrieve the jacket is a bother for her. If she's playing with friends or watching a movie, don't go off by yourself to get the jacket out of lost-and-found. Tell her she must come along. Tell her there was going to be time to make cookies but now, it's just a jacket-retrieval mission and don't make it fun. No ice cream on the way home. Don't act angry, just make her see how inconvenient this all is. And if she has an allowance, make her contribute money for every jacket she loses.

It works with all kinds of possessions. When something is lost or damaged due to neglect, you don't replace it with a similar item. That just reinforces the idea that it's not necessary to be careful about things. If a kid loses a smartphone because he left it "somewhere", he doesn't get a new smartphone. He gets a cheapo one until he can demonstrate that for X number of months he will have that cheap one in his possession at all times.

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answers from New York on

Tie a consequence to what she loses. If she forgets her jacket, she goes without to school the next day. If the jacket is gone forever, then she needs to replace it out of her allowance.

Once there is a "cost" to something, it is amazing how fast kids will all of a sudden starting taking more personal responsibility for their items. Yes, even at that age.

1 mom found this helpful
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