Studies have proven that the child’s executive functions between age 3 and 11 are predictive of physical health and mental health, future earnings, and even marital harmony.
Bottom line is if you want your child to eventually find and keep a job in the future, be a dependable and happy adult, then you need to care about their Executive Functions.
Here’s how you can help your child build up these muscles, gaining more control over their ADHD symptoms and taking strides toward independence along the way.
1. Enforce Accountability
The problem with ADHD is not with failure to understand consequences; it’s with timing. The first step is to not excuse her from accountability. If anything, make her more accountable — show her you have faith in her abilities by expecting her to do what is needed.
2. Write It Down
Compensate for working memory deficits by making information visible, using notes cards, signs, sticky notes, lists, journals, anything at all! Once your child can see the information right in front of him, it’ll be easier to jog his executive functions and help him build his working memory.
3. Make Time External
Make time a physical, measurable thing by using clocks, timers, counters, or apps — there are tons of options! Helping your child see how much time has passed, how much is left, and how quickly it’s passing is a great way to beat that classic ADHD struggle, “time blindness.”
4. Offer Rewards
Use rewards to make motivation external. It’s best to create artificial forms of motivation, like token systems or daily report cards. Reinforcing long- term goals with short-term rewards strengthens a child’s sense of self-motivation.
5. Make Learning Hands On
Using jellybeans or colored blocks to teach simple adding and subtracting or utilizing word magnets to work on sentence structure — helps children reconcile their verbal and non-verbal working memories and build their executive functions in the process.
6. Stop to Refuel
Give your child a chance to refuel by encouraging frequent breaks during tasks that stress the executive system. Breaks work best if they’re 3 to 10 minutes long and can help your child get the fuel, they need to tackle an assignment without getting distracted and losing track.
7. Practice Pep Talks
Teach your child to pump herself up by practicing saying, “You can do this!” Positive self-statements push kids to try harder and put them one step closer to accomplishing their goals. Visualizing success and talking themselves through the steps needed to achieve it is another great way to replenish the system and boost planning skills.
8. Get Physical
Routine physical exercise throughout the week can help refuel and help him cope better with his ADHD symptoms.
9. Sip on Sugar (Yes, Really)
The glucose in these drinks fuels the frontal lobe, where the executive functions come from. The operative word here is “sip” — just a little should be able to keep your child’s blood glucose up enough to get the job done.
10. Show Compassion
It’s important that the people in their lives especially parents show compassion and willingness to help them learn. When your child messes up, don’t go straight to yelling. Try to understand what went wrong and how you can help him learn from his mistake.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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