Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Helping boys remember

A few weeks ago, I thought my memory could use some work. But after talking with some friends about my memory gaps, I've determined that I have a pretty good memory. I can remember little details around my childhood; lectures that I attended in college and loads of details about my time with my wonderful husband.

Little things fade away - a bad movie that I saw, but still had the ticket stub for, the exact number of Cabbage Patch Kids I owned (I think it was seven) and even some of the plots of the books I read last year.

But the details that stay with me are part of my life's story. And knowing those details has to do - in a large part - with the way my Mom talked to me. 

From the ages of 2 through 6, we learn how to form memories, and researchers believe this is primarily done through conversations with our parents. When parents ask children for the details of their day - for their stories - it helps children form long-term memories around those events.

But here's the catch (because there is always a catch): It turns out that parents often have those conversations slightly differently with girls than they do with boys. And that slight difference may affect memory-making abilities, and may help explain why "men never remember anything."

Here's the difference: When talking to girls, Moms usually ask about feelings in addition to details about the event. By associating feelings with the activities of the day, more connections are formed around that memory in the brain, making it stronger. Boys are not asked about their feelings as much, so there are fewer "retrieval cues" in the brain to pull that memory out later.

So, the next time you ask your son about his day, you may want to ask him how he felt about a story that he tells you and draw out as many details as possible. Who knows? He may remember that story for the rest of his life.

Who has the best memory in your family? Tell me in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment