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.”
About James Lehman, MSW
James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.