23 Jan Can Executive Function be Improved?
“There are dreamers and there are planners; the planners make their dreams come true”
-Edwin Louis Cole
Every parent wishes for their child to grow up healthy, both physically and mentally. And while their physical growth is easier to understand and nurture, cognitive development is entirely a different thing.
Cognitive Development is the development of knowledge, skills, problem solving, and dispositions, which help kids think and understand the world around them. An important part of this development is the executive function skills which is very essential to interact with the world.
What Is Executive Function?
Executive Function Quotient is a mental skill that allows one to plan and make decisions, set goals and get things done.
According to Harvard Education, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.
Because these skills play a role in almost all aspects of life, struggling with executive function can have a big impact on kids.
What are the Signs of Executive Dysfunction in Children?
Executive functioning skills develop over time, and at different rates.
So it can be challenging at times to tell if what you’re seeing is something to be concerned about or if it’s common for a child’s age group.
The list below can help you spot the trouble with executive function in kids:
As they get older, these symptoms will often become more pronounced.
Early intervention is key, ensuring that they will be able to improve their executive functioning skills.
Executive Functioning Strategies for Your Child
Parenting a child with executive functioning issues can have its challenges.
But there are specific strategies and tools that can make everyday life easier for you and your child.
1. Break Down Tasks
A key part of your executive function toolkit should be the ability to break down tasks into smaller components.
Getting into this habit will allow your child to work on improving all three areas of executive function.
First, they will have to think flexibly, to come up with new ways the task can be performed.
Then, they will need to remember the steps that they need to get it done.
Along the way, they will have to avoid getting frustrated or overwhelmed.
It will also get them into the habit of time management.
By doing this, they can avoid the panic that comes when you don’t leave yourself enough time to complete an important task.
2.Try A Musical Instrument
Learning how to play a musical instrument can be a lot of fun.
In addition, with so many different instruments available, you will be able to find something that your child will love.
However, as your child does this, they will be actively improving their executive functioning.
For example, they will have to remember the right notes in the right order, and think creatively about the type of songs that they are playing.
As they start to improve, increase the difficulty of the music played.
3. Play A Video Game
When considering how to train executive function it’s common for parents to think that all the potential exercises will be dull or difficult.
However, when you consider the benefits that video games can provide, it becomes clear that this isn’t the case.
Spending some time in a virtual world is a great way for your child to learn a range of valuable skills.
For example, everything from hand-eye coordination to social skills can be improved.
To make sure that you get the maximum benefits, you might want to try purchasing puzzle-based games.
These will allow your child to get used to looking at problems from multiple angles and trying to come up with a solution.
4. Review Their Previous Knowledge
For many children who have difficulty with executive functioning skills, school can be a very difficult experience.
Often, they might find it harder to learn new information.
You can help by encouraging them to review the things they learned from previous sessions.
This will help them place it into their long-term memory and prepare them for the lesson ahead.
To improve their comprehension, it can be useful for them to use techniques like mind mapping. This will allow them to gather their thoughts.
In addition, you might want to consider color-coding their books. This will tell them which subject they are learning at a glance.
5. Create A Clear Schedule
Another key part of your executive function is the ability to make a clear schedule.
This will allow your child to know what they are doing and when.
This will give them more security, as they can mentally prepare for the challenges ahead.
In addition, you should discuss clear expectations, especially when going into unfamiliar environments.
Make sure to offer positive reinforcement if they meet your expectations.
6. Reduce Clutter
One of the biggest problems for many children is their ability to focus.
This is made more difficult if they are working in a cluttered environment.
For this reason, you should make sure that everything is kept neat and orderly.
For example, you might want to group different school subjects together.
You might want to put similar types of toys together.
By making it easy for your child to find what they are looking for, they can avoid becoming frustrated or overwhelmed.
7. Help Them Think About The Consequences
Often, it might be difficult for them to judge how their actions can impact on someone else.
This can create a lot of potential problems as they grow older.
Thankfully, there are some easy ways for you to teach your child to start thinking about the consequences of their actions.
For example, you might want to read books with them.
Stop at various points in the story and ask how each of the different characters would be feeling at that point.
You should also remember to do this during the disciplining process, explaining why that behavior was wrong.
8. Teach Critical Thinking
It’s essential that children learn how to question the world around them.
There are multiple ways that you can get them to do this and you can start by throwing them simple decision-making questions like the kind of clothes to wear and the book to read. As you do this also encourage them to weigh the good and the bad.
9. Give Them Control
As you go through your executive functioning skills training, you should make sure that your child is enjoying the process.
As we’ve seen, there are multiple activities for you to try.
So, if one doesn’t work, you can move on to another training technique.
This will ensure that your child is engaged in the process, allowing them to want to keep developing their skills.
You should also make sure to put them in control of the activities you are performing.
For example, you might decide to let them pick which game to play next, or what color box to put their toys in.
10. Make It Easy To Progress
When developing your child’s executive skills, try to choose activities that have multiple degrees of difficulty.
This will ensure that your child can learn more advanced skills as they become more proficient.
For example, you might want to start out with books with simple character motivations, then progress to ones that are more morally gray.
Eventually, you might encourage your child to write their own stories, so they can imagine more fully the type of experience that another person might be having.
Ultimately, you want to get them to the level where they are able to do these tasks on their own. This is where they will be able to see the biggest gains.
Executive function skills play a big role in almost every aspect of life.
It can impact on how long a child will be able to focus in the schoolroom and the kind of behavior that they might exhibit.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways that you can do to improve your child’s executive functioning skills. Incorporate these ways in your daily routine and see the difference it can make for your child.