how long does it take for a 4 year old to forget someone?

How Long Does It Take For A 4-Year-Old To Forget Someone?

Has your 4-year-old recently lost or been separated from a close family relationship?

How long does it take to forget a person at this age completely?

Have you ever wondered why you can’t remember all details about being a preschooler? It’s because, at the age of 4, children usually remember only a few flashes from this phase of life. 

The phenomenon behind the reason is childhood amnesia, where the child loses memories from the past years.

How long does it take for a 4-year-old to forget someone?

If we talk about strangers or random guests, your child will forget him within a couple of days, weeks, or months. However, if the person is a close family member such as parents, grandparents, cousin, aunt, or uncle whom the 4-year-old has lost due to death or separation will remain in his memory for quite some time. 

If the person was very close (emotionally or physically) to your 4-year-old, he would not forget him quickly and easily. It can take over a year to forget him, sometimes even more. 

Moreover, he will not forget him at once. In the beginning, he will talk about that person a lot, then forget him, then talk about him again and forget. After that, the memories will gradually fade.

It also depends on the child’s personality and how close he is to the person he has lost. Some kids will get flashes or pictures like memories of the people or events that were very important for them when they grow up.

How to help a 4-year-old to forget someone?

Here are ten ways to make your 4-year-old overcome the grief of death or separation.

1- Do not talk much about that person unless the child talks about him.

I’m not suggesting to stop taking the name of the person who died or separated from your child. But if you see that your child is having trouble forgetting that person, do not talk about him more often unless the child remembers him and ask questions like “where is he?” or “ Why did he leave us?” etc. You shouldn’t avoid his questions because it will confuse them more.

Answer the child honestly but do not use harsh words. Children lose a lot of family relations. Do not bluntly tell him why they are separated, no matter what circumstances you have faced against them. Be empathic and never pollute the child’s mind.

2- Do not tell your child, “We won’t talk about him again.” 

Never stop a child from remembering a close family relation that he has lost for any reason. If he wants to talk about him, let him speak. If he has questions, answer them politely and then distract him.

Talking about the lost person would comfort the child and help him heal fast.

3- Give comfort and reassurance

Whenever the child misses the person who has gone, give him a hug and a kiss to reassure him that he is now in a better place or that the person who came into his life was meant to go.

Slightly and gently explain the concept of destiny and tell him that everyone loses something and they adapt to the change very well. 

Although a 4-year-old cannot understand these types of concepts but talk to your child according to his personality and approach. 

4- Keep him engaged with other activities

Take baby steps and help your child engage in different activities; you can enroll him in any sports he likes or join a baking class.

Bring him some educational toys, board games (age-appropriate), and indoor games so the child gets busy with them and does not remember the lost person.

A 4-year-old can be easily engaged in physical activities.

5- Get him new storybooks

When a child gets busy with something that helps him forget about someone, to make him engage through the day, buy storybooks (age-appropriate) and ask him to explore them. Take part in reading and discussing the characters of stories.

4-year-olds love stories, and they have very strong imaginations. 

6- Slowly remove that person’s belongings

In case your 4-year-old keeps seeing the stuff of the person you want him to forget, consider removing them gradually. 

The more a child sees someone’s belongings, the more he will remember him and ask questions. 

7- Take the child somewhere for a few days

It is easy to say that changing the environment diverts the mind from grief—the memories of the person who died/separated come into your mind no matter where you go.

But children of age four always like to have fun and forget about almost everything when exploring new places. So it is better to take your child somewhere out of the city or country to divert his mind from everything around him. Travel heals the soul for both adults and children.

8- Give him time to heal

It is not necessary that adopting above mentioned tips would work like magic. Sometimes we force our children not to do something which is not in their control. For example, missing someone separated or grieving the loss of a close relationship sometimes eventually gets better with time.

So, give your child some time to heal by himself and never force him to forget that person by hook or crook. 

9- Try to adapt something that person used to do for your child

To fill the gap in your child’s life, try to adopt something the person who has gone used to do for your child. For example, if your child has lost any of his grandparents and misses them terribly, try to do those activities with your child that he used to do with his grandparent.

Similarly, if you and your child are separated from a close relationship, try to fill the gap, so the child does not feel bad about it.

10- Don’t talk negatively about someone who has left his life

In case of separation, the primary guardian parent might have faced something wrong, which resulted in a split. Keep your differences with the other party to yourself, and never transfer the hate to the next generation. 

Always stay optimistic about the person who has left, and think through the perspective of your child’s relationship with him.

Will a 4-year-old remember a person he lost when he grew up?

Generally, we don’t have memories before age 3-4. However, we have some flashbacks of important events that happened at age 3, 4, and above. 

So when a child loses a person in childhood, there is a strong chance he will forget him. 

Close relationships like Grandparents, parents, and siblings, children mostly remember strongly for some time, and then they may have only a few vivid memories when they grow up. 

Story books & Workbooks to help your child overcome the grief:

Here are a few storybooks you can get for your 4-year-old to help him overcome his sadness and understand what’s going on.

1- The Memory Box:

2- The Invisible String:

3- I Miss You:

4- The Invisible String Workbook:


How long does it take for a 4-year-old to forget someone? It depends upon the child’s personality and how close he was to that person. Forgetting someone is also not a linear process, your child will keep asking questions about that person and then will forget him. After some time, he will remember the person again, ask questions and then forget him again. Their memories will fade gradually. 

If your 4-year-old loses someone close and special to him, he might have a few vivid memories of that person when he grows up.

Similar Posts