HERE’S THE WEIRD NEWS ABOUT CHILDHOOD MEMORIES:
You know all those memories you’re working SO hard to create for your kids? They’re going to forget them all. Well, probably. Blame it on science and a phenomenon called “childhood amnesia.”
Turns out, kids can remember events before the age of 3, but by the time they’re around 7-years old, their early autobiographical memories are lost. That’s because of a child’s developing brain and their ability to retain explicit and implicit memories.
What’s the difference?
Explicit Memory: Generally associated with a time and place (Remembering what you had for breakfast, for instance.)
Implicit Memory: Not specific, more of an emotional recollection. (Remembering the warm fuzzies you felt as you ate that delicious jelly donut for breakfast.)
Kids begin forming explicit memories around the 2-year mark, but the majority are still implicit memories until about 7-years-old.
BUT HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS:
While your child may not remember meeting Mickey for the first time at age 2, memory can be thought of as a unit of experience and every experience shapes the brain in meaningful ways.
Specific memories may be forgotten, but those memories are what form the fabric of our identities and they are never truly gone.
(By the way, sign up for the Empowering Kids with Character email newsletter for tips and insights to share meaningful moments with your crew.)
”If the kid has fun, even if they don’t remember the experience, that’s nothing to sneeze at in terms of forming a worldview that life can be enjoyable,” says Nora Newcombe, Professor Of Psychology at Temple University and Co-Director of their Infant & Child Laboratory.
“It sets a global expectation that the world is a nice place and people are good to me. These are the kinds of things people are building up in the early years.”
FAMILY TIME IS INVALUABLE, WHETHER YOUR KIDS REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL OR NOT
Don’t let this news about memory discourage you. While your preschooler probably won’t remember the amazing cupcakes you made for their Halloween party, they will remember the important feeling that mom and dad take care of me, the world can be trusted and life is good.
The key is to consistently engage in quality family time. Download this FREE Family Time Printable to make the most of your next gathering.
And here’s a tip: Include storytelling in your family activities. Research shows kids absorb a lot more information from family stories than most parents assume.
Sue Shellenbarger backs up this idea in her Wall Street Journal column, “The Secret Benefits of Retelling Family Stories.”
“Parents may be surprised to learn that their children actually acquire a sense of identity from hearing family stories,” Shellenbarger shared with NPR’s Ailsa Chang in a November, 2019 interview.
“At Emory University’s Institute for Liberal Arts, researchers have taken a really deep look at what kids remember from family stories. And a surprisingly large number – about 90% of teenagers and young adults – can remember a family story when asked, even if they seemed uninterested or riveted by their phones when the stories were told. So surprisingly, they do really listen.”
In addition to storytelling, here are other cool ways to make lasting memories:
1. Write stories together. Have your child draw the illustrations.
2. Have a cell-phone obsessed teen? Beat ‘em at their own game by playing Drawful by Jackbox Games.
3. Don’t forget to grab this FREE Family Time Printable.
4. Teach your kids to play chess, then play together.
5. Roast marshmallows over an open oven burner (with parental supervision, of course!). Then cozy up in sleeping bags for movie night.
5. Play Telephone and laugh at how mixed up the phrase get.
6. Build paper airplanes and have flying contests.
7. Tell ghost stories in the dark with a flashlight.
8. Make popsicles with unique, made-up flavors (think interesting juices combined with homemade purees). Gather everyone for taste testing once frozen.
9. Have your kids or class write and produce a play.
10. Shop at a thrift store together. Everyone gets to pick out one item to take home.
Don’t forget: Sign up for the Empowering Kids with Character email newsletter for other family time tips and cool insights.
***Meg Rutledge Keys is the author of The Waiting Line – What to Do (and Not Do) When Someone You Love is Struggling with Infertility and an award-winning advertising and marketing writer with nearly 20-years professional writing experience. She is fueled by her love of food, art and fluffy pets and lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and son. Find her at megkeys.com.
PS Founder of CRP, Maria Dismondy, recently spoke an event at The Detroit Writing Room along with other amazing children’s books authors. Devin Scillian, David Small , Sarah Stewart, Lisa Rose and Amy Nielander. Maria represented Cardinal Rule Press while sporting some new promotional buttons we ordered from Sticker Mule!