Do you have a child who is hopelessly unorganized? This is the child who can never find their pack pack, school books or soccer cleats? Oftentimes these kids are not just disorganized with their belongings but also with their thoughts. They have difficulty starting projects and once they’ve started them, they often lack what it takes to complete them. You may be interested to know that there is a name for this type of disorganization – executive function – or in this case a lack of executive function.
Organization aka Executive Function
Executive functioning issues can produce a wide range of symptoms. Depending on which skills your child struggles with the most, and the particular task he or she is doing, you might see the following signs:
- Finds it hard to figure out how to get started on a task
- Can focus on small details or the overall picture, but not both at the same time
- Has trouble figuring out how much time a task requires
- Does things either quickly and messily or slowly and incompletely
- Finds it hard to incorporate feedback into work or an activity
- Sticks with a plan, even when it’s clear that the plan isn’t working
- Has trouble paying attention and is easily distracted
- Loses a train of thought when interrupted
- Needs to be told the directions many times
- Has trouble making decisions
- Has a tough time switching gears from one activity to another
- Doesn’t always have the words to explain something in detail
- Needs help processing what something feels/sounds/looks like
- Isn’t able to think about or do more than one thing at a time
- Remembers information better using cues, abbreviations or acronyms
It is important to remember that although we aren’t born with executive function skills, we are born with the potential to develop them. The process is a slow one that begins in infancy, continues into early adulthood, and is shaped by our experiences. Children build their skills through engagement in meaningful social interactions and activities that draw on self-regulatory skills at increasingly demanding levels.
How to Help Kids With Executive Function Weaknesses
If your child has any or all of these issues, you are probably dealing with it in one way or another pretty much every day since it affects so many areas of life. This can be tedious. It can also be downright damaging to your relationship with your child not to mention the damage to your child’s confidence.
It is important to understand that your child is not lazy, unmotivated or willful and to learn strategies to help them. For some ideas, read this post => 5 Strategies for Helping Your Unorganized, Unmotivated Child.