Executive Functions

How do all of the pieces work together

I have been trained to stop behaviors using rewards and consequences. It took a long time for me to understand that parenting from a misbehavior perspective is not getting anyone to change their behavior. Let’s take a look to see if the source of the challenge is their Executive Functions.

When Their Behavior Is Not Working

When a person isn’t changing or adjusting to the situation, this is described as having a maladaptive behavior. When parenting a child with Executive Functions challenges, shifting our thinking to a maladaptive view will give us a better understanding of their challenges. From there, set realistic goals and get true outcomes.

Let me clarify from the get go that using rewards and consequences do work with some people. If it works for you – don’t change it (“if is not broken why fix it”).

Children and adolescents with behavioral challenges know what we want from them. They know we want them to act in a manner where they are accepted by others. As a parent, I want them to not get in trouble. However, they lack important “thinking skills”.

What Are Executive Functions

Dr. Ross Greene of Lives in the Balance tells us that “Thinking Skills” are:

  • regulating one’s emotions
  • considering the outcomes of one’s actions before one acts
  • understanding how one’s behaviors affect others
  • communicating to others what’s the matter
  • being flexible

When your techniques are working with your kids, no need to change. However, when what you or the school is doing is not working, it is time to do something different. Children and adolescents need the “thinking skills” to handle life challenges. To learn how to problem-solve.

Individuals with ADHD have challenges with Executive Functions.

Executive Functions is the name given to a set of “thinking skills” that facilitate critical thinking and self-regulation. Executive Functions are controlled by an area of the brain called the frontal lobe.

Executive Functions Challenges

Children and adolescents with “thinking skills” challenges include:

  • Organizing themselves
  • Prioritizing
  • Maintaining attention and shift attention when needed
  • Sustaining and regulating their effort
  • Processing Speed
  • Modulating their emotions (frustration, excitement, anger)
  • Recalling information – memory challenges
  • Monitoring and self-regulating their actions

What do we do? We learn how to identify the (lagging skills). Use this tool when you are calm, have time and energy. Use this tool with your professional provider however; as a parent you can start noticing the challenging areas and have a discussion with your provider.

After you identify the lagging skills, then you can define the problem to be solved.

An example of questions to help identify “difficulty managing emotional response to frustration”:

What am I trying to solve? The time my kid goes to bed.

When does this problem happens? When my child is playing video games.

Where is this a problem? At home, every single night.

Who is involved? My child, myself, my partner

How would you like the situation resolve? I want my child to be in bed by 9:00pm.

Consider Collaborative Parenting Skills

You have an incredible opportunity to improve your child or teenager’s ability to manage their own ADHD, behavioral challenges and learn how to parent differently.