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Executive Functioning Basics

Executive Functioning Basics

When you look at these skills individually, one at a time you can see how a deficit can present a challenge for any child. When you look at the executive functions as a whole and consider deficits in all of these areas, it is daunting to imagine what it is like for a child at school when a simple homework assignment is given.   As you will see below executive function weaknesses can also impact managing emotions which can explain some of the intense feelings your child may experience. 

  • Paying attention
  • Reflecting on past behavior and outcomes
  • Managing feelings and emotions
  • Getting started (task initiation)
  • Organizing thoughts and materials
  • Managing time
  • Procrastination
  • Planning and prioritizing
  • Staying on track
  • Remembering what to do and when to do it (working memory)
  • Problem solving

Initiation – The process of starting a task, taking action

Impulse Control – Thinking before you act

Emotional Control – Managing emotions in relationship to the situation at hand

Flexible Thinking – The ability to hear different ideas and new approaches to solving problems

Working Memory – Holding important information in the mind

Planning and Prioritizing – Breaking tasks into parts and deciding the order things need to be done according to relevance and importance

Time Management – Understanding the sweep of time and how much can be completed within a marked period of time

Organization – Occurs mentally and physically and includes thinking in a logical, step by step manner while keeping materials in order 

Self-Monitoring – The ability to reflect accurately on how you are doing on goals


Take the time to fully understand executive functioning as this new understanding will help the stage for strategy development.  Change is possible! This is not about being lazy, it is about creating pathways in the brain for a new skill set.  

Mom's Choice, ADDA, CHADD, ACO

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