What is Executive Functioning?
Fall usually feels like a fresh start for your child, almost like the beginning of a
new year! It could be that the school year is finally coming to fruition, or there’s a
new class schedule, or even a new routine. Along with these fresh starts, it is
imperative to freshen up the strategies and tools to help your child become their most
Executive function refers to the skills and the mental processes that enable us to
successfully plan, focus our attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple
tasks. It is imperative for our brains to be able to filter out distractions, prioritize tasks,
set/achieve goals, and control impulses.
As a Certified Clinical ADHD Service Provider (ADHD—CCSP), executive
function works hand in hand with ADHD specific therapy. However, your child does
not have to struggle with ADHD to benefit from executive function coaching.
Executive function is important for everyone to work on, as it can help people
improve their critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, planning, and task
One of my biggest tips when it comes to executive function coaching is
learning to choose our words carefully when it comes to goal setting. Often when we
set goals for ourselves, they are large and vague. For example, “work on ___ project”
or “get good grades.” While these goals are a great start, they can leave us feeling
more overwhelmed and unmotivated than we were before, causing us to keep
bumping those goals back onto our calendar. My best suggestion when it comes to
goal setting is to make your goals specific, time oriented, and attainable.
For example, you could change your goal from “Finish my science project” to
“Read a chapter of my textbook every day and then create 1-2 PowerPoint slides on
the information learned. Have my project completed in 2 weeks.”
The difference between these two goals is huge! It is so important to put effort
into being specific and intentional with your goals because it will help guide your
child on how to achieve them.
If your child or teen experiences difficulties in finishing tasks, keeping track of
assignments, frequently losing or misplacing things, or has difficulty managing time,
he or she may struggle with executive functioning skills. Therapy is instrumental in
aiding ADHD and executive functioning skills.
If your child is a struggling learner, it will help them to know that they have
trusted and supportive adults on their side in school, at home, and outside of school as
well. Academics are more challenging for children with ADHD and executive
functioning difficulties. Strong therapeutic relationships help to keep your child
accountable outside of school in achieving their goals, but also help your child to feel
safe, respected, and valued. Once this foundation is established, true learning and
progress can happen.
Interested in learning more about executive functioning skills and how they can benefit you? Feel free to get in touch with Rachel for a free 15-minute phone consultation. She can answer any questions you have, see whether you and she are a good fit, and start working toward a better future today.