The Cowboy called Forgetful Jones is a Sesame Street character who can’t even remember that he needs his horse to take a ride around his ranch. That’s cute, except when it’s children who have problems with their working memory. That may happen because of hearing issues, ADHD or developmental difficulties, and it can lead to problems with reading, learning and social interaction. A recent Canadian study found that preschoolers with a good working memory were much more likely to stay in school as teens.
If you notice that your child has a hard time following instructions, remembering what comes next in games or seems forgetful, you can help:
▪ Have your child teach you. Did he learn to jump rope? Have him instruct you in how it’s done.
▪ Limit exposure to digital devices for kids 5 and younger. The researchers say, “video games, smartphones, tablets and television can undermine cognitive control.”
▪ Don’t overload your child with information or tasks. Avoid saying, “Pick up your coat from the floor and hang it up, and then grab a drink from the pantry.” One thing at a time.
▪ Teach visualization skills. Encourage your child to create a picture (initially by drawing, eventually just by imagining) of what he/she’s just read or heard.
▪ Play soft, pleasing music while your child does tasks. As we mention in our book “YOU: Raising a Child,” exposure to music can improve memory.
And, remember: By working with specialists and helping your child with memory problems, you can see substantial improvements in focus, learning and social interaction.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.