Wednesday, October 27, 2010
You forgot (fill in the blank) AGAIN!!!
Lets set the stage here. You have reminded your son and daughter at least 10 times in the last 24 hours not to forget their (fill in the blank) You know whatever that thing is, books, sports equipment, permission slip, lunch, etc, etc, etc. This is now become almost a daily ritual, you say "don't forget", they say with increasing frustration: " I won't" as if they have never forgotten anything in their life, and then the phone call from school or from practice, "Hi, said in the sweetest and most loving voice you have ever heard from your teen, and then the dreaded words, I FORGOT MY ............ Of course it is at the most inopportune time. You are just about to walk out the door, or go into a meeting, or are dripping wet from the shower and you lose it. " How many times did I ask you if you had your......." That's it, I'm done, I've had it, no way, OK where do I bring it?" You cave!!! Why because even though your teen has not thought ahead of the consequences of forgetting whatever, you have. The teacher said he would give your kid a zero if he forgot his book again, the coach said, your kid would be benched if he forgot his equipment again, and so on and so on. So you leave whatever you're doing so that you're kid doesn't get penalized for forgetting. This is like watching a rerun of your least favorite show when there is nothing else on TV....torture. Here is the disconnect. When you yelled up the stairs the night before"don't forget" or in the morning before school, don't forget, your teen registers it for a second, and that's when you get the scream "I have it". But then a text comes in asking some really important question like "what are you wearing today", or they look in the mirror and are disgusted by what they see, or their favorite song just played on their IPOD, and whatever they were supposed to remember has been supplanted by something else. Teens are driven to distraction, their brain delivers so many new thoughts every moment that it is almost impossible for them to keep track. Just telling them to remember does not work. It does in the moment you scream, then it gets lost in the hurricane force wind that is their brain. The work here is to help them come up with a strategy for remembering. The key in designing this strategy is that it has to be something that works for who they are and how their brain works. Maybe you are a list maker, and if you could just get your kid to make that list the night before of what he/she has to do, and what they have to remember for the next day, your life would be so much easier. Maybe your kid buys into the list idea, and then two days later the dreaded call comes in again, I forgot! What happened to the list you ask? I'm guessing its on the floor under the bed, under the coke can, or fallen into the dirty laundry basket. It was never their idea in the first place, and so they never really took ownership for making it work. Your job is to help them come up with their own idea. Maybe your kid would read a text from you just before he comes downstairs, maybe putting post it notes on the door out to the garage of all the stuff he needs for school placed their the night before, so its the last thing they see before they leave the house. There are a million strategies, just make sure its your teens and not yours. Your job is to say, and here is your I Get It moment: "I get it, mornings are really hard for you, you have alot on our mind, its easy to forget these things, but we need to come up with a new strategy. I'm game for anything, and it might take a little trial and error before you find something that works, but I am happy to help you with that. Here is what I am not willing to do anymore, and that is interrupt what I am doing while you are at school to bring you whatever you need. Lets just get a good system in place." Remember parents, just saying "don't forget" is not helpful, figuring out a strategy for remembering is!