Friday, February 23, 2018 - 11:15

Setting reminders and visual cues for forgetful children could be a solution for parents frustrated over missed chores and homework.

Researchers from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology found children were unlikely to set themselves reminders to compensate for their anticipated memory failures until around nine years of age or older.

The research team, from UQ and University College London, used a computer game to ask children aged between seven and 13 to remember to perform a number of simple actions.

Children were then given the option to set reminders if they wanted to.

UQ PhD student Adam Bulley said when asked, children of all ages recognised their performance would be worse when there was more to remember.

“However, only older children around nine and above set more reminders when they thought their memory would be worse,” Mr Bulley said.

“That suggests simply telling young children ‘not to forget’ is unlikely to make any difference to memory performance.”

Mr Bulley said helping children to set strategic reminders to aid their memory performance could help.

“For example, placing a timetable of weekly household chores on a child’s bedroom door would alleviate their need to remember these actions by themselves,” Mr Bulley said.

“Leaving key items by the front door can also activate the memory to pack their school bag with the things they need for the day ahead.

“Young children, who are forgetful at the best of times, may be among the most likely to benefit from these strategies,” Mr Bulley said.

The study, co-authored by UQ’s Dr Jonathan Redshaw and University College London’s Johanna Vandersee and Sam Gilbert, was published in Child Development.

Media: Adam Bulley, adam.bulley@uqconnect.edu.au, +61 414 735 050; Kirsten O’Leary, UQ Communications, k.oleary@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 7436.