Q: My daughter will be turning 3 next month and she can talk very well. She brings up things that she seems to be remembering from six months ago (playing with a rabbit at a baby shower we took her to) or even almost a year ago (ridding a pony at a birthday party). She can even recall details. Me-"What party?" Her-"Mommy's friend. For the baby." I thought kids don't remember stuff until they're 4. Is this normal? Should I start worrying about closing the bathroom door or her remembering Daddy walking around in his underwear? Or will she forget?
A: Many three-year-olds can remember events from when they were one or two, although you are right that these very early memories tend to be forgotten bit by bit, so that most teenagers and adults are unable to remember much before they were four or five. Your daughter's powerful memory is a sign that she is lively and intelligent, and is certainly nothing to worry about. You raise the issue of family modesty, and questions about bathroom privacy and levels of undress, given her ability to remember what she experiences. Different families have different ideas about these matters, so it is hard to generalize. But your daughter is certainly old enough to be aware of and to be affected by notions of propriety, privacy, intimacy, and attitudes towards the human body. So it is wise to proceed with tact and friendliness as she gradually moves from babyhood to being a school-aged child, and handle issues of modesty with support for her feelings and your ordinary common sense.