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You're Trying To Give Your Kids An Amazing Childhood. How Much Will They Remember?

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Which experiences will be the ones your kids remember?

The other day I came across a picture of my son when he was two years old, gazing wide-eyed into the camera during a trip to Puerto Rico. Memories came flooding back: his floppy sun hat, the white smudges of sunscreen on his cheeks, the ball he kicked around with some older kids, the joy of watching him take his first doggie paddle strokes between my wife and I in the clear turquoise water.

“I remember that toy bus I’m holding there,” he said, pointing to the picture.

That? I thought. We took you to one of the most beautiful places on earth, and what you recall is a plastic toy we could have bought anywhere?

As parents, we put so much effort into creating experiences for our children that we hope will paint the picture of a happy childhood. But what will our children actually remember when they grow up? And are memories something that we actually have the power to shape?

Kids do hold on to memories — just not always the ones you’d expect

We know that virtually no one remembers their infancy, and that memories of toddlerhood begin to fade as children grow. But there’s no exact science to knowing which experiences kids will carry with them as they get older, or which details they will forget.

Sometimes, as in the case with my son’s toy bus, the things our kids remember can seem pretty random.

“It’s unpredictable what they’re going to remember,” says Nora Newcombe, a psychology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who has studied children’s memories.

“The three- or four-year-old is going to both surprise you with how much they do remember sometimes, [and] disappoint you with how little they remember sometimes,” Newcombe tells HuffPost. “Whereas by the time you get to six or seven you’re, memory-wise, almost dealing with an adult.”

But just because a 10-year-old........

© HuffPost


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