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Executive Function Strategies (Tips for Parents).

Updated: Jan 11

As parents, we not only deal with the daily problems and challenges that come with having children, but we also deal with the executive function issues that many children face.

And managing these challenges takes a great deal of self-care and balance. Consider these tips to help you manage your child while still being the best parent and caretaker there is.

Establish a routine and schedule

The rationale behind establishing a routine and schedule with your child is to introduce them to the idea of organization, planning, and prioritizing. This simple step improves executive function in children and can be done weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

However, routines should be clear and consistent, but also flexible enough to be changed to accommodate different activities or tasks.

An example of this might be letting your child go to bed at the same time every night, but switching up their morning routine.

Another example is to designate certain clothes or breakfast items as weekday clothes/foods versus weekend clothes/foods so that your child knows what they will wear on which day without needing a lot of guidance from you each morning.

But, if your child starts to feel overwhelmed or stressed, you should consider implementing one of these strategies:

  • Remove stimuli

  • Change the task

  • Break tasks into smaller steps

  • Offer choices between two equally desirable outcomes.

Create an organizational plan that works

You can also create an organizational system that works best for your child so he/she doesn't feel overwhelmed by too many choices. Here are a few ways to do just that:

  • Set daily goals for areas where they struggle. Keep it short and sweet! Your child should be able to do the entire task in about five minutes or fewer. For example, finish reading these sentences, complete this math problem set, or set out these clothes. Nevertheless, it's important to make sure your child knows the next steps so they'll know how to get started and when they're finished with the task.

  • Teach a similar routine each morning, like packing their school pack every night before going to bed, getting dressed first, and then eating breakfast. This will give them something easy to remember before rushing off to school in the morning.

  • Consider using visuals such as calendars, planners, or organizers to keep your child's tasks on track.

Help your child develop a positive attitude by providing encouragement and praise.

Kids sometimes get reprimanded a lot and this can affect their self-esteem and confidence. But when they get praised for getting things right, it encourages them. Here are some ways you can encourage your child:

  • Praise the effort they put into a task and not just the outcome. For example, I love how you tried to make this project neat! instead of: Wow! This is so neat!

  • Listen to them and help them brainstorm ways they might solve problems on their own.

  • Let them know that you’re available to listen to their challenges without judgment.

  • Ask them questions to nudge them in the right direction. For example, you might ask them what they think they could do differently next time around.

  • Offer incentives (that aren’t food) when your child is successful at completing a goal. A hug or pat on the back works. If they reach their goal every day, you could take them out for ice cream.

Model good time management practices out loud.

A few strategies for time management skills are setting a timer, creating a plan, having a to-do list, evaluating urgent tasks, and setting thoughtful deadlines.

You can incorporate these strategies into everyday life and practice them around the home.

It is important to practice these techniques out loud so your child can see and know what they should do during times of increased pressure or stress.

Although different people respond better to different organizational techniques, it's better to experiment until you find a system that works best for you and your child.

Focus on strengths not weaknesses

What you focus on grows! As a parent, it is easy to focus on our child's weaknesses and the areas where they struggle. However, what we can do to help them achieve their goals is to encourage them every step of the way by focusing on their strengths.

Here are some ways you can build on your child's strengths:

  • Discuss the importance of character development with your children. Talk about their strengths and weaknesses, and assist them to identify activities that they excel at.

  • Model positive character traits yourself. Be patient, kind, and understanding.

  • Help your child develop a personal code of ethics. Teach them what is right and wrong, and help them develop a sense of responsibility.

  • Encourage them to learn new things, such as a new language or playing an instrument.

Because we know working with your child to develop new strategies to improve their executive functions can be challenging, our team of highly professional and friendly tutors is here to help you be the best parent you can be.

Through our tailored tutoring service, your child will be positioned to excel at school and in life. Let us know how we can best serve you – book a FREE consult with us today!

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