Many children have problems with memory. To determine the amount
of memory problems your child has, play memory games with them and compare them to their
peers. Psychologists often look at memory by the scores on digit span sub-test of an intelligence
test. If you feel your child can improve in memory, the following game can be a fun way to
develop auditory memory.
The purpose of this exercise is to increase your child's ability to remember instructions that are
given to him/her. Some children cannot remember two, three or four instructions
simultaneously. Often they will forget even single commands. Play this game often to
strengthen your child's short term memory and help them become less distracted when
Start the game by telling your child about the game. If desired, other siblings can participate.
The game's object is to see how many commands the child can successfully complete. Most
children can get up to four, so four commands is a good starting point. For example, you may
suggest: "First bring me a tissue, second, put the dish rag in the dirty laundry, third, turn on the
light, and fourth, put the magazine in the magazine rack.
If the child is able to do all four, give him/her lots of verbal praise. Really make a big deal at
being able to complete four commands. Next, ask the child if he/she is ready to do five
commands. Make up five more simple commands. If he/she completes all five, give a lot of
verbal praise. Keep playing the game until the child forgets one of the commands. It is not important that the child complete the simple commands in the order that they were given.
When the child forgets one of the commands, the game simply ends for that day. Congratulate
the child in getting the amount of commands he/she was able to do. This is the child's current
record. Next time the goal will be to beat the child's record. If more than one child plays the
game, parent's must stress for each child to beat their own record and not worry about how the
other siblings are doing. A valuable principle can be taught when you stress competing against yourself rather than comparing yourself with others. If your goal is to improve your child's short
term memory, this game should be played at least daily, six times a week. Once 12 simple commands are remembered on a consistent basis, the child is ready to learn complex commands. Complex commands are activies that require several steps (e.g., wash the dishes, carry out the trash). A good goal for a child is to be able to remember four complex commands.
Do not be
authoritative about playing the game. Keep the game fun. You can add incentives to get the
children to enjoy playing it. For example, you could say that if everyone breaks or matches his/her own record, the family can go to McDonald's or rent a video.
1. Choose a time each day that you can play this simple game with your child. ________
2. Complete the following sheet each day to help you with your memory. Each line should have
a specific task written in that the child can complete without leaving the room (e.g., bring me the
book, turn on the lamp, put the blue ball on the coffee table).
Step 3. Play the game. Start off with Trial 1. Go as long as your child can remember the items
without being prompted. When he fails, stop the game. If he does well, go to the next trial.
Note: You will not have to fill out Trial 10 each time you play the game. Keep the commands
the same on Trial 10 until he masters Trial 9. You will have to rewrite the trials he completed
successfully the day before. This way you are helping his short term auditory memory and not
long term memory. It is usually the short term memory that is a problem. Some parents may
feel that Trial 7 or Trial 8 is a good goal to work toward. Play this game at least 4 times a week.
You can stop when your child's memory is at Trial 7 or Trial 10. If your child has mastered
Trial 3, you need not start on Trial 1 each day. You can start on Trial 4.
Step 4. Provide rewards for successful work. This increases motivation so that your child looks
forward to the game every day. A good attitude also helps memory increase faster.
Step 5. After the simple commands are mastered, your child is ready for complex commands
(commands that take more that one or two steps). Complete the following form for complex
commands (e.g., take out the trash, make a peanut and jelly sandwich).
Note: Only do one trial a day. Once the child has mastered Trial 1, go to Trial 2 on the next day.
Trial 3 is enough memory for most children. When your child has mastered Trial 3 you should
be proud of him/her. Keep giving the rewards to keep this a game and not just a bunch of
Step 6. Encourage your child to use his/her memory in school, around the house and at play.
If your child can remember seven simple tasks and four complex tasks, he probably has enough
short term memory to get him through most school assignments and home instructions. Short
term memory can be a problem for many ADHD children. The command game can help
develop memory ability.
The top photograph was by Les Anderson on Unsplash. We are grateful.
If you would like, please check out our sponsors. We receive payment on qualified purchases from the links below.