How To Parent: Children Saying I Forgot As An Excuse For Not Doing Something They Are Told

Does Your Child Say This? “I forgot.”


Does Your Child Say This? I forgot.Is your child’s answer to everything, “I forgot?” The fact of the matter is, sometimes children do forget, and certainly a reminder from the parent to do their work or complete a task is appropriate. But when kids use “I forgot” on a regular basis, it becomes a way to justify irresponsible behavior. As an excuse, “I forgot” means the child is avoiding a certain task or responsibility which they don’t feel they can perform and don’t know how to get help with. Or it could be because they’re being lazy and don’t care about it. Laziness causes as much irresponsible behavior on the part of children as any other explanation. Sometimes laziness can be interpreted as “I’m tired and I don’t feel like it.” Sometimes laziness can be interpreted as “My life’s not going to get better anyway, why should I try?” In either case, laziness doesn’t empower the child to take care of business.
So when your child says “I forgot,” you have to say, “Forgetting is not an excuse to justify not doing something.”

Child: “I forgot!”

Translation: “I don’t feel like it.” Or ”Why should I try?”

Ineffective response: You didn’t forget! You’re just saying that because you’re lazy.”

Effective response: “Not forgetting is your responsibility. I’ll help you learn ways to not forget, such as creating an assignment book for school, or using cue cards to prompt you for the next task. If you’d like, I’ll help you develop a list. But you are responsible for remembering what it is you need to do.”


Does Your Child Say This? “I forgot.” reprinted with permission from Empowering Parents. For more information, visit www.empoweringparents.com

James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James’ foremost goal was to help kids and to “empower parents.”

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