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Executive Functioning Blog

Welcome to Think Happy Live Healthy’s Parenting Blog! We are glad you are here. Each week, our blog will focus on a particular topic for parents.

Given the current situation we are all facing, you may be finding that weekdays and weekends are blending together as our typical daily routine that we knew prior to the coronavirus is no longer present. Humans are creatures of habit and we naturally crave structure and routine. As such, many of us are trying to recreate this for ourselves and our families in the best way that we know how.

When it comes down to it, our executive functioning skills are being put into overdrive. In case you are not familiar with this term, executive functioning is like the command center in our brain. These skills allow us to focus, initiate, organize, and prioritize tasks, as well as hold and manipulate auditory and visual information. In addition, they give us the ability to regulate our emotions, inhibit our responses, engage in flexible thinking, plan ahead, and monitor our progress. All of these sound pretty important, right? These skills are crucial for both adults and children. Right now, you may be finding yourself or your family members experiencing challenges with executive functioning and that is to be expected.

At the same time, however, you may also be thinking to yourself that a particular executive functioning skill or a number of skills has been a source of frustration for your child even before these challenging times. Executive functioning weaknesses can be manifested in a number of ways in terms of social interactions, emotional regulation, and academic performance. Let’s take homework for example. Do you feel like you are engaged in frequent arguments with your child regarding assignments? Does your child often struggle with planning for long term assignments, forget due dates, and have trouble prioritizing tasks? We know that a number of children (and parents) can relate to these examples mentioned above.

While there are a number of strategies to help support your child’s executive functioning skills, here are two tips you can try at home:

  1. Break down longer tasks (assignments, projects, studying for exams) into smaller, more manageable components. Help your child prioritize what work needs to be completed first and have them practice time management skills by allocating appropriate amounts of time to complete these various components.

  2. Provide feedback to problematic situations, phrased in a positive manner, and using a calm demeanor. Encourage open communication after a disagreement and involve your child in the problem solving process which can in turn facilitate better emotional modulation.

For additional support, please check out our executive functioning group that will be occurring once schools are back in session during the 2020-2021 academic year. This group will be geared towards students in grades 6th-8th who need help with improving their organizational and time management skills. An evidence based program, Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS) will be used. Please contact Think Happy Live Healthy at 703-942-9311 or info@thinkhappylivehealthy.com for more information and to reserve your spot.

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