Last week, AWESOME and WISE clinician, Kasey, shared with you some the facts about Executive Function (EF). We often describe EF as “the New IQ” and talk to folks about how EF is cluster of skills accomplished by the prefrontal cortex. You might consider the role of a football coach or an orchestra conductor when you think of the EF – having to manage many functions (or team members or musicians) at one time, and in harmony, to make a goal or a beautiful melody happen. That’s what is developing in your the busy and powerful minds of your kids and teens.
We think the brain is AMAZING.
So AMAZING, in fact, that Dr. Amy is writing a book about it for parents, teachers and therapists! SHHHHH! She hasn’t announced it yet but we’re telling you early because you are part of the family! More to come on that! Meanwhile, here is what AWESOME and WISE clinicians, Dominique and Amanda, had to say about EF –
Dominique Adkins, Ed.d, LPC, NCC, ACS:
When considering the executive functioning skills of teens and young adults it is important to remember the frontal lobe is evolving and will continue to do so until about the age of 25.
The frontal lobe is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. A teen’s ability to make mature decisions is often overwhelmed by “gut” instincts instead of thoughtful reasoning. Growing technology further enables and increases the occurrence of emotion driven decisions. It important that parents do not shame teens for their tendency to make more emotion driven decisions. The key is to integrate Emotion Mind (feelings) and Rational Mind (thoughts) to achieve a Wise Mind which is a combination of the best parts of emotion & rational mind.
For teens to achieve a Wise Mind, they first must increase awareness of their emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness activities can help teens increase self-awareness and clue into the moments when taking that extra moment can be beneficial.
Taking time to be notice and be aware of their internal process allows teens the opportunity to integrate their emotions and thoughts which increases balanced decision making and organization. Join your teen in working toward a wise minded lifestyle by incorporating a five minute or less mindfulness activity into your family’s weekly routine!
Amanda Beyland, LCSW:
Executive functioning skills help the brain to get things done in an organized, efficient way and function effectively throughout the day. When children struggle with executive functioning they may have a difficult time starting a task, using their working memory, utilizing flexible thinking, or staying organized. This could mean remembering a big project last minute, taking a long time to get ready for school in the morning, losing homework papers, or becoming overwhelmed with a relatively simple request.
Kids depend on their executive functions to help them with everything from getting through their morning routine to bringing home everything they will need for their homework. Checklists, planners, set routines, and time limits are just a few things that may help to make things more achievable. Try giving children one task at a time or making them a list of chores so they do not become overwhelmed or frustrated when they may miss a step.
Kids can be more organized at school with the use of binders for specific subjects and checklists of what needs to be brought home each day. Practicing mindfulness, or encouraging kids to pause and reflect, may help with focus and problem solving.
Until next week, Be Wise!