Teenaged children could explain loss of memory

  • Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dear Liz,
I'm a scatter-brain. I 'lose' everything, from my keys to my phone, to my head. I'm only 40, with two teenagers in high school. I'm physically in pretty good shape. My husband (fortunately) does not lose anything, never late and thinks I'm a dingbat. Help.
Dear 'Scattered…'
Well, the good news, is your husband's skills can balance your lesser strengths (also can make you more scattered if he points out your faults). Certain personality temperaments are more inclined to be exacting, a little/a lot anal, and always on time. Others are not and have other strengths. You did mention you have two teenagers in high school? That can do it too. Once you are clear of anything medical - you have to create a 'toolbox' of systems that will help you keep up with things. This can include: a tray or bowl for keys and phone by the front door; a watch you can set with reminder alarms, or reminders on your phone (and keep the phone on you at all times). There needs to be a place for mail, a hook for your purse, disciplines like hanging up or hampering clothes the second they leave your body, laying out your clothes the night before and so forth. It may not be natural at first, but can leave you much more time to enjoy life, that used to be wasted trying to search for everything. By the way, my husband automatically calls my phone when I am looking for it - which is great as long as I haven't turned it off. I found it in the freezer once.
Dear Liz,
My son is just not doing his normal best in school this year. He is in middle school, seventh grade. Up to this point he was a good student. I think he is reaching puberty - he's gotten moody and wants to be left alone. He does have activities he still participates in and some good friends. Should I be worried?
-Worried mom
Dear 'Worried,'
Any change in behavior or performance needs to be addressed, but with kindness, caring and understanding and, sometimes, 'tough love.' here have been studies indicating that learning literally stops (periodically) in many seventh graders during hormone swings and growth spurts. Not an excuse, just a reason. Change in mood, isolation and lose of interest in activities can be signs of depression. Please have your pediatrician rule this out. You said, he is still participating in activities, which is good. But school is his job now. It may be time for a student-teacher-parent conference with each teacher just to check in. Kids need a specific plan for catching up, or for getting extra help with a tough subject (in writing, please). Sometimes they need help getting along with a teacher or understanding the demands. This should not be punishment - it should be a regular part of the school year. Every four and a half weeks parents get a report on their child's progress. Discuss this with your child - see what's working and not. Don't let the child get away with blaming it on the teacher. If discipline is required because they are 'goofing off,' make it time-limited and selected with their help. Teaching children self-discipline and problem-solving is a lifelong gift.
(Thank you for your questions and comments.Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, consultant and mediator. Liz is known for her many years as a TV News and Weather Broadcaster, and as a long time columnist for the monthly Lowcountry Sun. Liz is the proud mom of two and joyful grandmother of three.)

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