Did you know there are these things called Executive Functioning Skills?
And they are kind of a big deal?
I am sure you do; you probably read up on it in a book somewhere when you were doing a bit of research on parenting in your spare time.
But, if you are like me, and didn’t know that this was a thing, you can keep reading – your secret is safe with me.
I suppose that I did know that each of these things exist, albeit individually. I was unaware that someone had grouped them all together in a neat little bundle according to science and brain function and given them a name. (Thanks for that. “Executive functioning” is SO much easier to Google.)
For reference, my day job is in higher education, working with adult students. I talk with my students daily about time management, focus, managing emotions and juggling life in order to achieve their goals. While at a work conference, I attended a lecture that discussed a trend surfacing in college students. This trend deals with the decline in overall executive functioning skills and how we can actively support the development of those skills within our student case loads.
Hint: these skills are easier to develop at a younger age.
Mid-way through the lecture, my mom-brain switched on and I had a moment that was both enlightening and terrifying at the same time. The kind where my head snapped up from being bent over, writing furiously. So much so, that I gave a bit of a start to the fellow sitting next to me.
What am I doing for my daughters to foster this type of behavior?
Let me back up a minute and let you read some of my notes. Executive functioning is in line with self-regulation. Both of these things are considered skills, meaning they are taught, not intrinsic. The brain functions that are the foundation of these skills include working memory, mental flexibility and self-control. Those foundational skills help manage focus, prioritization, setting and achieving goals, all while controlling impulses. Here is a link to someone who explains it in much more detail than I am able to in just a few hundred words.
Sweet milk of magnesia. We can develop these things? They are skills that can be taught? And if they can be taught, that means they can be learned at any age.
It’s not too late.
Developing these positive behaviors for my girls to reason and make healthy decisions for themselves and potentially those around them are not out of reach. And even better, I can work on them, as well.c
If this was not evident about me by reading the things that make me excited, I am a bit of a nerd for this stuff. Processes and lists, calendars and vision boards! Routine, structure and color coding?!
Bring. It. On.