What Are Executive Functions and How Do They Impact Behaviour?

Hey there Super-Parents! You know those days when your kiddo seems to be on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, going from zero to a hundred real quick, and you’re left standing there, utterly clueless? Or when it feels like you’re dealing with a mini Houdini who can’t remember where they left their favorite toy…for the umpteenth time? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there.

But what if I told you that these puzzling moments are actually sparks of a marvellous process happening inside their tiny heads?

Welcome to the mind-boggling world of Executive Functioning Skills!

Think of these as mental tools tucked away in your child’s brain toolbox, helping them navigate their exciting, and sometimes overwhelming, journey of growing up. So, strap on your learning helmets as we dig into the what, why, and how of these brainy skills – and, most importantly, how you can help your child sharpen them. Let’s get started, shall we?

Imagine if your kiddo’s brain was a giant toolbox. Yep, you read that right, a toolbox! Inside that noggin are all sorts of mental doodads and whatzits that help them get things done, from figuring out puzzles to holding back a tantrum. We grown-ups call these superpowers Executive Functioning Skills.

Now, don’t be spooked by the fancy title! In our super-awesome Parentability program, we’ve boiled it down to eight nifty skills your child uses to navigate their daily adventures. Ready to take a peek into the toolbox? Let’s dive in!

  1. Working Memory: Their brain’s sticky notes.
  2. Impulse Control: The mental stop sign.
  3. Emotional Control: The feels filter.
  4. Task Initiation: The internal “Ready, set, go!”
  5. Planning and Prioritizing: The brain’s planner.
  6. Self-Monitoring: The personal brain coach.
  7. Organization: The brain’s tidying fairy.
  8. Flexible Thinking: The brain’s monkey bars, swinging from one idea to the next.

Getting good at these skills isn’t just a kiddo superpower – it’s their ticket to growing up into self-starters, bounce-back-ers, and ‘I-got-this’-ers. We, the parents, are the secret guides helping them get there.

Ready to be a wizard with words during your kiddo's next tantrum tornado? Sign up for our 'Parenting Power Phrases' mini-course! This magic scroll of wisdom will equip you with the perfect phrases to tame those baffling behaviors from your toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener. Be prepared, be confident, and ace the next curveball your little one throws your way!

A Little Patience Please, We’re Still Under Construction

It’s kinda like expecting your tot to be Mozart before they can even tap out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on a toy piano. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, these nifty brain skills begin to sprout around their second birthday party, but they’re not fresh out of the oven until they blow out a whopping 25 candles. Yes, you read it right – 25! But don’t fret! The building blocks are being laid and your child is well on their way.

From their terrible twos to fantastic fives, you’ll see these skills sprouting like little daisies. But remember, not all flowers bloom at the same pace. Some skills may need a bit more sunshine (practice) and others might bloom quicker than a poppy in spring.

Why Doesn’t My Child Just…Listen?

Ah, the age-old question that can frazzle even the calmest of us parents. Here’s the thing, weak or still-growing executive skills can make your child appear like they’re throwing tantrums or just being defiant. But I promise you, it’s not because they’re being a mini-rebel without a cause.

Imagine trying to chop down a tree with a spoon. (Don’t try this at home!) No matter how much elbow grease you put into it, that tree isn’t budging. Same goes for your child. If they’re missing a specific executive skill, they’re going to have a hard time doing that task. This can be a real nail-biter for both of you.

Being Zen Before Being a Whiz

Before your child can make the most out of their executive skills, they need to be in their happy place. This is where regulation, a fancy term for managing emotions and energy, comes into play.

Without regulation, the most honed executive skills can’t function optimally. So, mamas and papas, let’s help our kids find their inner Zen before expecting them to be problem-solving whizzes.

Flexing Those Executive Muscles

You’ve heard the saying “Practice makes perfect”? Well, here’s a secret – it’s not about perfection, but about persistence. Just like how a gentle daily workout can turn spaghetti arms into toned muscles, dedicating a small slice of your day to flexing these executive skills can make a world of difference.

Make it fun, make it light, and most importantly, make it safe. Let’s create a sandbox where our little ones can tumble, fail, and learn, all in the same breath. It’s in these small everyday moments that our children become their best selves.

Taking a Bow

Phew! We’ve dug into the toolbox and explored the secret powers hidden in your child’s noggin. By nurturing these executive skills, we’re shaping our kids to not only thrive today but to soar tomorrow.

Feeling ready to take a deep dive into this exciting world? Then, dear friend, join us in our free class and then hop on the ParentAbility program. It’s an adventure of a lifetime, and your kiddo’s future self will thank you for it!

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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