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Helping your kid with executive functioning...

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Here are some tips to help teens improve their executive functioning skills:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Teach teens how to set specific, achievable goals. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  2. Organize and Prioritize: Help teens learn how to organize tasks and prioritize them based on importance and deadlines. Use tools like to-do lists, planners, or digital apps to keep track of tasks.

  3. Time Management: Teach time management skills by creating schedules or routines. Encourage them to allocate time for different tasks and activities, including study, relaxation, and hobbies.

  4. Break Tasks Down: Show teens how to break complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. This can make tasks feel less daunting and easier to tackle.

  5. Focus and Concentration: Provide strategies for improving focus, such as the Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break), eliminating distractions, and practicing mindfulness.

  6. Self-Monitoring: Encourage teens to reflect on their progress regularly. Ask them to assess their work, identify areas for improvement, and adjust their strategies accordingly.

  7. Flexible Thinking: Help teens develop the ability to adapt and be flexible when things don't go as planned. Teach them problem-solving skills and encourage them to consider alternative approaches.

  8. Working Memory: Provide techniques to enhance working memory, such as visualization, chunking information, and using mnemonic devices.

  9. Self-Regulation: Teach teens to manage their emotions and impulses. Strategies like deep breathing, taking short breaks when feeling overwhelmed, and practicing self-control can be helpful.

  10. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Emphasize the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. These factors contribute to improved cognitive functioning.

  11. Social Skills: Help teens develop strong communication and interpersonal skills. Effective communication, active listening, and empathy are essential for healthy relationships.

  12. Practice Decision-Making: Encourage teens to make decisions independently. Discuss the pros and cons of different options and help them learn from the outcomes.

  13. Model Executive Functioning: Be a role model by demonstrating good executive functioning skills in your own life. This can have a positive influence on teens.

  14. Seek Support: If a teen is struggling with executive functioning, consider involving a school counselor, therapist, or educational specialist who can provide targeted strategies and support.

  15. Celebrate Successes: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both big and small. Positive reinforcement can motivate teens to continue practicing and developing their executive functioning skills.

Remember that building executive functioning skills takes time and practice. Encourage teens to be patient with themselves and to persistently work on improving these skills.

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