Executive Functioning In Smart but Scattered Kids

Executive functioning is an umbrella term for many different activities of the brain that orchestrate goal-directed action. Executive functions include your child’s ability to: focus, decide what is important, set goals, use prior knowledge, initiate action, manage time, self-monitor performance, use self restraint, and remain flexible.

Executive Functioning Difficulties Look Like This

Imagine you have an eight-year-old son and he is a hot mess. When he arrives home from school he leaves his shoes in the middle of the kitchen and his book bag in the middle of the foyer. At some point he makes himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The bread bag is left open, the lid is off the peanut butter jar, a sticky knife slathered with peanut butter and drips of jelly are on the counter. When you find him gaming, there’s a sea of crumbs on his chair and the family dog has licked his plate clean. This boy has executive functioning difficulties.

Executive functions help modulate our attention, effort, and emotion so that we can plan, organize, and respond independently, consistently, and predictably. Having well developed executive functions helps children regulate their behavior in social settings and their output on academic tasks. These are smart kids who get the big picture but lack follow through on many important details.  Your child might need you to act as his or her executive assistant.

Support Your Child

To help your child provide scaffolding of skills which are provide temporary supports as your child’s executive functioning skills evolve.  Do enough to support but not enable your child.  Second, help create systems of support such as checklists, technology reminders, following a consistent schedule, and organizing materials.  Third, sustain your child’s strengths as our strengths often become our careers and passions in life.  Learn more in my book The Disorganized, Impulsive Child: Solutions for Parenting Kids with Executive Functioning Difficulties.

Test Your Child’s Executive Functioning

Executive functioning difficulties often co-occur with ADHD and learning disabilities.  We can test your child’s executive functioning and provide specific solutions to help at home and in school.  Dr. Forgan is a licensed school psychologist and certified dyslexia testing specialist and can help you at (561) 625 4125.