Building Executive Functioning Skills in Your Child: A Fun and Simple Guide for Moms

As moms, we’re always on a mission to help our kids grow and succeed. One area that’s absolutely key to their success is executive functioning skills – you know, those fancy skills that help them plan, organize, focus, and not lose their socks every five minutes. But how can we, as moms, tackle this without losing our marbles? Fear not, fellow moms, let’s dive into this with a sprinkle of humor and a lot of love!

Step 1: Establish Consistent Routines

  • Picture this: a morning routine smoother than a buttered pancake. It’s achievable! Start by creating a schedule for your child that’s as predictable as your craving for coffee. Include specific times for activities like homework, chores, play – and most importantly, snack breaks!
  • Use visual aids like colorful charts or a fancy whiteboard to ensure the routine is both clear and engaging. Bonus points if you can sneak in some cute stickers!

Step 2: Break Tasks Down into Smaller Steps

  • Ever tried tackling a mountain of laundry? Break it down like you’re preparing a buffet – fold one basket, then the next, put them into categories for each room, before finally putting them away (a few days later?!). Help your child handle big tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable steps. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to conquer the mountain that way.
  • Guide your little one through each step with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader at a championship game. Go team clean room! You really cannot overdo it with the praise here, so go REAL big!

Step 3: Use Visual Supports

  • Who needs fancy gadgets when you’ve got arts and crafts? Get creative with visual support materials, like schedules, checklists, or charts. The more colorful and fun, the better!
  • Hang them up where your child can’t possibly miss them – like on the fridge, or on their bedroom door. Essentially, this is decorating your home with a touch of organization!

Step 4: Teach Problem-Solving Strategies

  • Life may be full of puzzles, but your child has got this! Encourage them to channel their inner detective and solve everyday mysteries. Who left the Lego on the floor? Where did that missing shoe disappear to? It’s all part of the fun. If you can approach any task or frustrating situation with curiosity, you are much more likely to get a positive response from your child – a huge win!
  • Guide them through the process with as much wisdom as Sherlock Holmes – and as much patience as a saint. If you feel that your patience is waning, do something silly – like breakout into outrageous dancing to blaring music – as this will help ease the tension for you and everyone else. Soon, you will see that you’re raising problem-solving champions!

Step 5: Foster Emotional Regulation

  • Sometimes emotions are like rollercoasters – thrilling, scary, and a little bit nauseating. Help your child navigate the emotional ride by providing simple (yet effective!) coping strategies. Deep breaths, mindfulness exercises, or a hug from mom – whatever floats their boat! You can do this best by MODELING. When you have big emotions, talk about them. Tell your children exactly how you feel, being specific about what exactly is going through your head and your struggles to control these emotions.
  • Encourage open communication and validate their feelings, even if it means listening to the woes of a stuffed animal. Puppets also work really well here. If your child will not talk to you, grab a puppet and see if they will talk to Mr. Sock Monkey – or whoever is the flavor of the day. By taking it one meltdown at a time, you will begin to see them become more and more independent with expressing how they feel, and much more verbal in articulating their emotions.

Step 6: Encourage Flexibility

  • Life is a dance, and your child is only just learning the steps. Teach them to groove with the rhythm of change and embrace unexpected surprises. Who needs a script when your improvisation skills are this good? Again, modeling is key for adaptation, and verbalizing your thought process when you have to switch up the plan or routine will go a long way to helping your kiddos catch up to – and embrace – change.
  • Celebrate their adaptability and creativity – they are the stars of their own show, and they can count on you as their biggest fan!

By following these simple steps – with a dash of humor and a sprinkle of love along the way – you can help nurture your child’s executive functioning skills at home. Remember, parenting is an adventure, so embrace the chaos and enjoy the ride. Together, you and your child will conquer mountains, solve mysteries, and dance through life with confidence and joy!

A grateful San Antonio transplant that fled the midwestern winters at the first opportunity. Driven by her core values, faith, family, and knowledge, Stephanie and her husband are passionately raising their three daughters - Nikoletta (2017), Eleni (2019) and Emmelia (2022). With a husband from Greece, travel is a big part of their family life along with their Greek Orthodox identity. Stephanie has a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology and is a licensed teacher, school principal, and dyslexia therapist. She is also the CEO and Founder of The LD Expert, a nationwide company that brings the best academic tutoring and dyslexia intervention to schools and families through virtual instruction. Favorite Restaurant: Jets Pizza Favorite Landmark: Marriage Island Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Cascarones