Executive Functioning: to plan and achieve your goals

It’s those unspoken skills we orchestrate daily that are our executive functioning skills. Mostly we do these things on auto pilot, however sometimes these skills take mindfulness and attention to what is happening in the present moment to achieve. Which is where we come in here at OTFC Group.

We’re here to make it easier for you! So, what are Executive Functioning skills exactly? They are the behaviours required to plan and achieve goals. Every behaviour required to plan, organise, problem solve, be flexible to change, manage your time, have attention to detail, self-control, working memory, metacognition, and persistence are all our executive functioning skills at work.

Executive Functioning is not a skill that children are born with, but develop through supportive environments.

Managing everyday life, because sometimes this is hard!

We know that sometimes children struggle with managing the tasks of everyday life. The executive functioning skills required to perform simple tasks can manifest themselves through showing difficulties with self-regulation, task initiation, impulse and emotional control, planning, and flexible thinking.

These may look a little like:

  • Struggling to remember the steps required to tie shoes
  • Difficulty beginning a series of homework assignments
  • Trouble with transitions between activities
  • Struggles around following instructions
  • Completing weekly chores
  • Presenting with a messy desk and/or locker
  • Struggling to remember location of belongings

One of the unique things about OTFC Group and our therapy spaces is we’re able to work on a range of executive functioning skills (attention, problem-solving, planning) while also naturally working on a range of social skills (communication, turn-taking, and collaboration)!

With lots of practice these activities in turn help to make your child’s day to day life a little easier, by them starting to utilise their executive functioning skills at home, school, and play. Repetition is a wonderful thing.

What can you do at home to assist with:

Working memory:

  • Using images or social stories may help by providing organising input, such as routine and sticker charts as well as visual schedules.
  • Keep belongings in the same place everyday

Initiation of tasks:

  • Breaking down the task into manageable parts

Cognitive flexibility:

  • Providing structure through visual schedules to help ease transitions

Self-regulation:

  • Use first/then statements. For example: First we work on printing, then we can paint
  • Provide 5-10 minutes of alone/quiet time for the child, such as colouring or playing quietly with toys of preference
  • Provide time for self-reflection and expression of daily feelings
  • Encourage physically and cognitively challenging activities, such as aerobic exercise during breaks in the day (like lunch and recess).
  • Deep breathing activities
  • Include movement breaks and heavy muscle work: many children with sensory processing difficulties find heavy muscle work such as proprioceptive and vestibular input self-regulating.

Don’t forget, what works for one may not work for the other

Remember to get creative with your home activities. Helping your children with their executive functioning skills are so important in their developmental learning helping them achieve their goals with purpose and a sense of achievement.

For a little more help with your child’s executive functioning skills, we’d love you to contact us and have a look around our website here at OTFC.

We’re now based across three locations: Adelaide CBD, Mile End and Parkside.

OTFC Group – We’re Influencing Lives. Creating Possibilities. Making a DifferenceOTFC is a South Australian clinic-based service that is centrally located and services children and adolescents from birth through to 21 years of age both locally and nationally. Dedicated to providing a client focused approach where children and families feel validated in their concerns, supported in difficult times, encouraged to be proactive and inspired to facilitate change

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