As we previously learned in our blog What Are Executive Functioning Skills?, executive functioning skills are what help all of us achieve goal-directed behaviors. They are the building blocks of successful planning, appropriate communication and relationships, and task-oriented behaviors.
To help your child increase his/her executive functioning skills, we must look at the whole child. If there are other issues, those must be addressed with qualified professionals, supportive family members and school staff.
To help your child become a prepared, organized individual, increase his self-esteem and aid him in social situations, executive functioning skills are crucial.
It is never too late to offer and obtain help; and for your child to learn the skills needed to increase his abilities. As with any skill, it will take effort, practice, praise and patience.
Try these tips to help your child improve their executive functioning skills:
Pre-school and Elementary School
Helping your child increase executive functioning skills may involve adding more structure to his environment.
Aid your child with putting out clothes the night before school or having her backpack ready at the door. Show your child how to put away her toys and allow her to do it on her own.
Do homework shortly after she gets home and in the same spot each time, with minimal distractions. If she is having trouble with staying on task at school, then the school may offer (and you can advocate for) accommodations through an Individual Education Plan.
Demonstrate through your actions and encouragement that being prepared is a positive message that creates less stress for her and the entire family. Model being on time and planning ahead. Use a calendar to plan playdates and appointments, and encourage your child’s participation in basic planning skills (like setting the table for dinner, studying for a spelling quiz, or writing a card for an upcoming party).
Help her notice when it is her turn to talk, and how others feel if she interrupts. Ask her to think about others’ feelings and behaviors and how her actions or words may impact them.
Middle School and High School
As your child gets older, help him to develop skills aimed at organization and time management. Continue encouraging your child to prepare for school the night before. Sit in the same place to do homework every day. Try to begin assigned work when still fresh and not wait until late at night.
Use an assignment notebook. If needed, have the teacher sign it, check it and give it back to provide accountability. Offer positive reinforcement for fulfilling goals. Limit electronics and distractions. Use a timer to discourage procrastination. Give praise.
Enlist help from the school. If your child’s grades are extremely inconsistent, his work is disorganized and he continually forgets to bring/do homework assignments, it is likely time to speak to your child’s teacher, counselor or social worker.
Your child may need further accommodations at school. These may be resource time to finish homework, meetings with the counselor for encouragement, checking his backpack and locker, preferential seating in class, checking of his assignment notebook to ensure he is writing down his assignments and knows what is expected.
College Years and Beyond
The goal is for our children to be prepared to not just handle the world of work and daily living on their own, but to be happy and successful doing so. Using executive functioning skills such as time management, planning, and organization enables kids to be successful when they are on their own. Being prepared for a work presentation takes planning, time constraint considerations, and organization.
Increase confidence in your child and help him build positive relationships as he learns to navigate social interactions, anticipate possible outcomes and problem-solve to come up with potential consequences of his behavior.
Executive functioning skills will allow your child to cope with many of the stresses presented in his daily life.
Let’s help our children now to increase executive functioning skills that will allow them to be productive and successful in their future. Help them continue to blossom!
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!