My son who will shortly become 3 years old seems to be unable to search for lost things, and I'd like to know if this is something to worry about.
He often takes some item/toy, runs around with it in our home, suddenly leaves it where he currently is, the goes somewhere else. Since I hate stuff lying around, I always tell him to put it back where it belongs if he does not play with it any more. If I know where the item is, this is not a problem - I just tell him where it is and he puts it back without arguing.
But if I don't know where he left it, he seems to have no idea what to do. I tell him: "Search for it! Think, where did you see it last? What did you do with it last? Check the places where you went most recently." (Note that the time between losing the item and my request for him searching is usually less than a minute.) And he does nothing. If I insist he should search, he just looks around where he currently stands, seemingly not knowing what to do. If I say, "You need to walk around! You are not going to find it by just standing there!", he walks around randomly, clearly not following any trail of thought. He often checks the same places several times, probably because he knows I expect him to do something. I then try to help by asking e.g. "Did you leave it in the kitchen?" He then often answers yes on my first question, which most of the time turns out to be false (I find the item somewhere else later).
I know that I radiate quickly growing impatience and expectation in these situations, which most probably inhibits his ability to think. I know I shouldn't do that. But is it really so hard?
It's not like I just complain; I usually engage in the search and comment: "I saw you walking around the edge in the corridor and you still had the item with you, so it's probably not there. But I don't know where you went next - was it room X or room Y? Which room did you go? Let's check there..." But I can at no point see any "click" in his mind. His answers seem random. I usually end up searching everywhere (or at least the places I know he visits often) systematically on my own, as if I hadn't asked anything. He is just no help at all.
It's not that he has no episodic memory. He can tell me what he played with or ate for lunch in kindergarten when I ask him in the evening (he does not know every day, but sometimes). He sometimes tells about past events he liked, and at least for the ones where I was present it is quite accurate. He is usually totally wrong about when they happened (often he says "yesterday" even it was a month ago, but I assume this is just because he does not understand the granularity of time vocabulary yet), but he knows what happend.
Should I be worried?