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. Such forgetfulness is cute in a puppet. But it’s not cute when it's children who have problems with their working memory.
Memory issues can happen because of hearing problems, ADHD, or developmental difficulties, and they 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 by doing the following:
• 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 that 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." Give them one task at a time.
• Teach visualization skills. Encourage your child to create a picture (initially by drawing, eventually just by imagining) of what he or she's just read or heard.
• Play soft, pleasing music while your child does tasks. Exposure to music can improve memory.
And, remember: By working with specialists and helping your child with memory problems, you will see substantial improvements in focus, learning, and social interaction.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
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