28: How Do You Teach Executive Functioning?
Previously, we’ve discussed how significantly important it is for kids to have great executive functioning skills. We’ve emphasized that when kids struggle with their executive functioning, they oftentimes have a hard time getting their emotions in check and accomplishing tasks.
Since we already learned the important things about executive functioning, the next thing we have to do now is to teach our kids how to have better executive functioning skills.
Is it possible to teach executive functioning?
Executive functioning is something that can be taught. It’s possible to shift from working awfully hard with outcomes that are not good for you or your child to working smarter and developing skills for your kids that will help them today in school and in the future with their job and relationships.
People with poor executive functioning skills have no sense of time and have poor organizational skills. They have no idea how to plan or prioritize which things make up advanced executive functions.
That means they always need someone to tell them what they need to do, which can be frustrating. There are tools and resources that will help you improve outcomes. For starters, make sure to maintain good time management and a high stress tolerance to avoid frustration.
How do we change executive functioning?
What we want and need to do is to teach our kids how to think about the outcomes and stay focused. We’ve already established in our previous episodes that attention is the brain's ability to stay alert while executive functioning is for planning and prioritizing for a future event or outcome.
When we teach our kids about future outcomes, we want to activate the part of their brain that is kinesthetic. We also want to activate the visual centers of their brain, which comes through patient conversations and it’s easier that way.
Skills, not pills
Neurofeedback speeds things up. But we have to teach skills, and there's no shortcut for that. We have to go for safe and natural remedies. So, we prioritize skills rather than pills.
Usually, when parents get frustrated, they go with medication. Some have tried neurofeedback with me but are not willing to do therapy which is not good at all. We have to build skills.
When you're shifting things, you have to expect that you’re going to get pushed back. That’s a normal part of the process. It’s also going to be a bit of an uncomfortable journey regardless of your kid’s age. That’s why it’s necessary to warn parents beforehand because being uncomfortable comes with change.
That's perfectly normal considering that the brain is going to go through an adjustment period, and your kids are going to start building confidence at a deeply subconscious level. They're going to start rewiring their brain, and they'll start seeing the outcomes.
The greater the constancy and reinforcement, the more it happens
Although everyone’s timelines are different from each other, we need to observe constancy and reinforcement. The greater the constancy and reinforcement, the more it happens.
Most people don’t like being constant, which is why they don’t work out every day. But in order for us to achieve the goals that we want, we have to be consistent in what we do.
We can expect our children to do what we won’t do for ourselves
You cannot automatically assume that if you are good at a certain thing, your child is going to be good at it as well. That’s not how it works and that’s not how it should be.
You should also be challenged that if you’re not good at something, it is an opportunity for you and your kids to learn some skills and uplevel the brain, executive functioning skills and relationships at work, in school and at home. We can’t expect our children to do what we won't do for ourselves.
That is how you teach executive functioning skills. You start with the outcome and work backwards. Spend some time painting that picture, getting to metacognition, getting them to understand that there are implicit things we have to make explicit, and getting them organized. Then, plan, prioritize, and work backwards.
Everybody can do it that's why I encourage everybody to start with executive functioning. Be persistent about it and reinforce it. Don't make it a friction point. Keep it positive and share your experiences whether you're struggling with executive function skills or not.
No matter where you are in your journey, we have resources to help you:
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