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What are Executive Functions?

 

Executive function is like the CEO of the brain. It’s in charge of making sure things get done. When kids have issues with executive functioning, any task that requires planning, organization, memory, time management and flexible thinking becomes a challenge. The more you know about the challenges, the better you’ll be able to help your child build her executive skills and manage the difficulties.

Executive Functioning and ADHD

School can be a challenge for students with ADHD—but here’s how you can help your child or teen succeed in the classroom. 

The classroom environment can pose challenges for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). The very tasks these students find the most difficult—sitting still, listening quietly, concentrating—are the ones they are required to do all day long. Perhaps most frustrating of all is that most of these children want to be able to learn and behave like their unaffected peers. Neurological deficits, not unwillingness, keep kids with attention deficit disorder from learning in traditional ways. 

Executive functions are the mental processes that enable us to plan ahead, evaluate the past, start and finish a task and manage our time. They can affect what we do in the present and also how we plan and organize for the future. These skills affect our ability to access and juggle many thinking skills at the same time. Executive Functioning skills can also impact how we interact with others. They help us to control our emotions, identify and find solutions for a problem, monitor and stop our actions, evaluate our thoughts and give ourselves direction through self-talk. behave better in class. Executive function has been described as the conductor of the brain – organizing and timing brain functions to work together. 

During school, problems with executive functioning (EF) impact students in almost all their subjects and daily tasks. When a student has a specific learning disability they can function well in some areas, thereby highlighting that they are struggling in other areas. However, when there is a problem with executive functioning the student often presents with similar problems across all subjects. These may present as difficulties with: starting work, staying focused on work, completing work, and remembering to do the work. When children present with these problems they are often incorrectly labeled as: lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, defiant, not very bright or as simply not trying. 

Starting a planner to list down your child’s activities and set after school work can greatly help your child cope with stressors and have a better structure that allows them to follow routine more effectively. 

The H2O Planner was designed specifically for students with executive function difficulties. The structure of the planner and the H2O routine aims to help students work on their homework effectively. Students who use this planner gain a strategy that can help them reduce the amount of time takes to complete homework and have a manageable test preparation learning process.

The H2O Planner is now available on Amazon 👉 https://amzn.to/2E621J6 

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Why Doing Chores Is Essential To Children?

Completing chores promotes the development of many basic skills necessary for success in life. For younger children completing simple chores such as folding clothes or helping to make their bed can improve coordination and motor skills. Completing chores also enhances a child’s ability to follow directions and helps develop planning and organizing skills. Completing chores also helps children develop time management skills. 

Doing chores also helps children develop a sense of responsibility. They not only engage in self-help skills which fosters a sense of independence but also a sense of shared responsibility and contributing to the well-being of the whole family. Successfully completing chores also promotes feelings of self-worth and belonging. When parents do everything, children may feel either dependent on others or may feel entitled and expect things to be done for them.  

Here are some points why doing chores is essential to children: 

Chores help teach life skills. They’re young now, but they won’t be kids forever! Laundry, cooking and budgeting are just some of the skills your kids will need once they finally move out. 

Chores help kids learn responsibility and self-reliance. Assigning children regular chores helps teach them responsibility. Tasks that personally affect your kids can help them become more self-reliant at the same time. 

Chores help teach teamwork. Being a productive member of a team can be modelled for children through housework. 

Chores help reinforce respect. It takes moving away from home for most of us to fully appreciate all the hard work our parents did around the house. 

Chores help build a strong work ethic.  Chores are commonly tied to a reward, such as an allowance or TV time. Rewarding children for a job well done can also spark an entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring them to work outside the house once they reach their teens. 

Chores help improve planning and time management skills. It feels like there are a million things to do in a day, and fitting it all into our diaries is a challenge! Chores can help older kids and teens build good habits early. Juggling schoolwork deadlines, housework and their social lives helps them learn to set priorities and manage their time, important skills for the working world. 

Chores give families a chance to bond. People often lament that chores take up time they could be spending with their kids or grandkids. But chores can actually create special moments between children and adults. Little ones who always want to help will feel important and receive a self-esteem boost, and moody teens may decide to open up over a shared task. 

Children may not thank you in the short term for giving them chores. This is a case where the goal is not necessarily to make your children happy; rather it is to teach them life skills and a sense of responsibility that will last a lifetime.  

Laughing With Your Children

Do you remember your baby’s first smile? ⁣⁣ 
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⁣⁣The first smile and giggle when you accidentally tickle their neck while wiping the drool off (yep, true story). ⁣⁣ 
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Humor, smiling, and laughing is part of early development. It’s one of the first things that babies do naturally, typically around 8-10 weeks.⁣⁣ 
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According to Mary L. Gavin, MD of kidshealth.org, we often think of humor as part of our genetic makeup, but a sense of humor is actually a learned quality that can be developed in kids. ⁣⁣ 
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Although kids can start developing a sense of humor at a very young age, their humor changes as they develop. Here are some quick tricks to better understand your child’s humor at each stage of development: ⁣⁣ 

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1️⃣ Babies- Your baby knows when you’re smiling and are happy. They enjoy funny noises and faces and are able to sense your joy and happiness and will often imitate you. Tickling will often give some giggles as your baby is highly responsive to physical stimuli.⁣⁣ 
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2️⃣ Toddlers- Your toddler appreciates physical humor, like peek-a-boo or an unexpected tickle. They will also find rhymes and nonsense words funny as their language skills develop. Around this time your toddler also enjoys trying to make you laugh so be sure to laugh at their (potentially unfunny) jokes. ⁣⁣ 
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3️⃣ Preschoolers- As your preschooler understands the world a little better, they will enjoy finding humor in a picture where something is not quite right (like an ice cream cone hat). Of course, as they become more aware of bodily functions (and what gets a reaction out of you), preschoolers also test out some bathroom humor.⁣⁣ 

You Are Your Child’s Very First Teacher

Does your little one cheer at the football game just like Grandpa does? 
Do you ever find them in the bathroom putting on your lipstick just like you?  
Has a bad word slipped out of that innocent little mouth?  
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You are your child’s very first teacher! Young children are constantly paying attention to the world around them. They watch how their parents and caregivers talk, eat, react to situations, and interact with others. 
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The typical toddler follows a four-step process for imitation: 
1️⃣ Watching and listening 
2️⃣ Processing the information 
3️⃣ Attempting to copy a behavior 
3️⃣ Practicing 
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Some tricks that you can do at home: 
✨ Be a good role model- Choose your words and actions wisely. Set a positive example for your children, even when they are infants and toddlers. 
🏡 Think of your home as your child’s first classroom- What do you want your child to learn? 
📚 Choose meaningful books and television shows. 
🧹 Include your child in your everyday activities and see those activities as an opportunity for learning.  

Positive Affirmations To Say To Your Children

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on Earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” – Brooke Hampton 

Think of how awesome you feel when someone gives you a compliment. 
Your children feel that deep in their souls. 
Young children gain so much of their own identity from their parents. 
They’re watching and listening to you even when you don’t realize it. 
They need you to be their biggest cheerleader. 

Children need positive affirmations to gain confidence. Positive affirmations contribute to a growth mindset and help form who your children believe they can be. 

Repeated positive affirmations help kids with their inner dialogue. You’re competing against a world where the media is sending them messages that they aren’t good enough. 

No parent is perfect, we all say things we shouldn’t BUT you can counteract some of those things you might regret by pouring in the positive. 
It’s never too late to start! 

Why it’s important to read aloud with your kids, and how to make it count

One of the most important things parents can do, beyond keeping kids healthy and safe, is to read with them. That means starting when they are newborns and not even able to talk, and continuing well beyond the years that they can read by themselves. Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world. 

Liza Baker, the executive editorial director at Scholastic, which just released its Kids & Family Reading Report, explains: 

“It’s so important to start reading from Day One,” she says. “The sound of your voice, the lyrical quality of the younger [books] are poetic … It’s magical, even at 8 weeks old they focus momentarily, they’re closer to your heart.” As they begin to grow, families should make sure books are available everywhere in the home. But it shouldn’t end when kids begin to read on their own. “As they become independent readers, we tend to let them go, but even kids in older demographics love nothing more than that time with their parents,” Baker says. “We’re blown away that kids time and again said the most special time they recall spending with a parent is reading together.” 

Below are some highlights of the report and tips for parents on how to turn their babies and children into readers. 

Read aloud early — and keep it going! The good news, according to the new Kids & Family Reading Report by Scholastic, are that more than three out of four parents who have children ages 5 and younger start reading aloud before their child reaches his first birthday. This practice increased to 40 percent in 2016 from 30 percent in 2014 among parents who read aloud before their baby is 3 months old. The research also showed that more parents of 3- to 5-year-olds are reading aloud frequently, with 62 percent of these parents reading aloud five to seven days a week, compared with 55 percent in 2014. 

But it’s not all great news: There’s been a drop in parents continuing to read aloud after age 5. 

Tip to keep it going: Have fun and be playful. Use this as an opportunity to ham it up and perhaps create different character voices to really engage the child. Don’t be shy about not perfecting the read aloud — especially with little ones. Don’t feel discouraged if a younger child gets distracted or interrupts story time with questions. That’s all part of the learning journey and reading process. In fact, books like those in the new StoryPlay series feature prompts and questions for the parent to ask throughout the story to keep young kids engaged and to enhance early reading comprehension. 

Be a resource to your kids for book ideas — even if they don’t ask — especially for infrequent readers. Scholastic’s research shows that parents underestimate that kids need help finding booksOnly 29 percent of parents agree “my child has trouble finding books he/she likes,” whereas 41 percent of kids say finding books they like is a challenge. This number increases to 57 percent among infrequent readers. 

Don’t forget adding books in your home library that showcase diverse story lines and characters. When looking for children’s books to read for fun, both kids (37 percent) and parents (42 percent) mostly agree they “just want a good story” and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh. One in 10 kids ages 12 to 17 say they specifically look for books that have “culturally or ethnically diverse story lines, settings or characters.” 

It takes a village — look to teachers, school librarians and more for book suggestions. Scholastic asked kids where they get the best ideas for books to read for fun. Overall, kids say teachers and school librarians (51 percent), followed by their peers (50 percent). Younger kids (6 to 11) are the most likely to get great picks from school book clubs and fairs, and older kids (15 to 17) are most likely to find book suggestions on social media. 

Never forget — choice rules when kids read for fun. Eighty-nine percent of kids ages 6 to 17 agree that their favorite books “are the ones that I have picked out myself.” And book choice starts early, as 67 percent of parents with kids up to age 5 reported that their kids choose the books for read-aloud time. This goes up to 81 percent of parents with kids ages 3 to 5. 

For all kids, parents with children up to age 17, recommend that the books every child should read are Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Magic Tree House and The Chronicles of Narnia. Book series are a great way to get kids hooked on story lines and characters. 

Tip:  Make books accessible.  Make sure your bookshelves are low enough for kids to reach the book that they want to read. Keep books by your children’s bedside, in the playroom — all over the house. Bring books with you on car trips, to the grocery store, or even to the doctor’s office waiting room. Rather than handing them a device, hand them a book they love. The more accessible you make books, the more you’ll see their reading frequency grow. Also, if your child needs a bit more guidance on choosing books, narrow it down to a nice range of selection and invite them to pick the book they want for that moment. It will change day to day and month to month, so be open and ready to grow and change along with your budding lifelong reader. 

What Your Children Really Need

Guidance sinks in best when you give it with love, understanding and patience. 
You won’t get it right every time but you should never give up trying. 

The key is to show your children that you accept them, even when they have big emotions. You do not need to accept their behavior, but you do accept who they are and how they feel.  

Patience. It’s something many of us wish we had more of. But what exactly is patience? Patience means remaining calm, even in the face of a child’s extreme acting out behavior. It means keeping your emotions in check so you can respond appropriately and effectively, rather than yelling, cursing, or saying things you will regret later. 

Here are some ways to guide your child with love, understanding and patience: 

1. Multiply the affection. Give your child a dozen hugs, tell her you love her twenty-five times, or give her a hundred kisses. Your child will love the silliness of the amount and she will enjoy the additional affection. 

2. Keep perspective. At the end of the day, we are dealing with kids and not adults. Young children’s brains are still developing and will not be fully formed until they are closer to 25. So, some things will take time, but with time comes maturity and with maturity comes more understanding. 

3. Refuel your body and mind. Bob Marley wasn’t kidding when he said, “a hungry man is an angry man.” So, eat something or hydrate yourself before dealing with your child’s behavior. Nourishing your body and mind before dealing with your child will instantly lighten your mood and help you approach discipline in a more calm, constructive and creative way. 

4. Take time for yourself. It’s probably not the best time to deal with your child’s behavior if you’ve had a tough day at work or experiencing other stress in your life. So, if you’ve had a bad day (or week), take the time do something that will help you feel better whether that’s getting a new hair style, exercising, or going out with friends. Taking time for your mental health will give you perspective and make it possible for you to be a more patient parent. 

5. Surprise them. Skip afternoon activities one day and take your child on an adventure. You can take her ice-skating, to the beach, or even take a walk in the park. 

6. Read him one more story. Say yes when your child asks for another story, even when you are tired. He will love the extra attention. 

7. Frame a favorite picture. Print out a favorite picture of your child and write a note on the back of the photo describing why it’s your favorite. Give her this photo to keep in her room. 

8. Tell your child your favorite memory of him. Tell your child a positive memory you have of him. It could be when you first met, the story of his birth, or any other special moment. 

9. Dance, sing, and laugh. Put on your favorite “oldie” and show your child your moves. It doesn’t matter what song; he will enjoy the time you spend together. 

Nurturing a Dysregulated Child

Next time you nurture a dysregulated child, notice how the breathing and heart rate decrease, and the body relaxes as they enter into a calmer biological and emotional state. 

How we respond *most* of the time builds resilience against how we may respond some of the time, when we too are dysregulated. 

A sincere apology and improved responses go a long way in modeling how to repair relational rupture. Which is inevitable. 

We all need relational safety to grow an emotional resilience. 

I think people struggle the most when they feel alone in their emotions. 

When they have no-one, they trust to share their thoughts and dreams with, or empathize with their most uncomfortable feelings, mistakes and experiences. 

Having a trustful compassionate person to share your true feelings with is life-changing. It can be life-saving. 

Parents and caregivers are this safe place for children to empty out their hurts and fill up their love tank. It makes sense for them to find their own trusted adult people in order to unearth peaceful practices and become their own safe place too. 

We all need to empty our hurts and fill our love tanks in ways that promote well-being. It’s never too late to learn and practice how. 

Children are heroes, too…

    Missing their grandparents, extended family and friends. Lack of normal routines. Loss of structure to their day. Parents who are stressed worried, scared, and just different.  Overhearing talks and news without an understanding of what they hear.  

Give your little hero more cuddles, one-on-one play time and an extra dose of patience and forgiveness. 

Kids Who Listen the First Time Have Parents Who Do These 5 Things First

  1. Make sure your kids aren’t distracted when you are talking to them – This could mean a simple, “Hey can you look at me, so I know you’re listening? before you begin your question. Getting their attention first is a way of showing your child respect and giving them the benefit of the doubt that it’s most likely not their intention to ignore you.  

2. Don’t ask them to do things that are higher than their maturity level (age matters) Back to kids aren’t adults. Assign things according to their age level.  

3. Talk respectfully and not in a demeaning way- Kids might be awful at listening but are great in imitating.  

     We all can be weak in communication sometimes. So, take this as a helpful suggestion, not a judgement. It’s easy in the heat of the moment to bark commands at your kids. If you are kind and respectful in asking your child to do something, then their response is more respectful. If you are short and shrill, his response is disrespectful.  

4. Make sure your child is in the right state of mind when you communicate with him or her 

    Whatever the conversation you have with your children, whether that’s addressing behavior problems or asking them how they feel emotionally, make sure you are attentive to the state of mind they are in. 

5. Give them rewards when they follow through on something you asked them to do and on something you did not ask them to do.  

     The most glorious moments in parenting are sometimes as simple as your child doing something you ask them to do, that they don’t normally do, without prompting.  Reward them with your praise and acknowledgement on following through. This can mean a simple “thank you!” 

Tips for Effective Role-Model To Your Child

If you want your child to learn it, you have to be it. ⁣⁣⁣ Children are biologically wired to follow the example of their parent. Your words and your authority as a parent are not enough to teach your children how to live. ⁣⁣⁣ 

⁣⁣⁣ It has to start with you. ⁣⁣⁣ If you have to be it to teach it, then self-work is one of the most important practices you can do as a parent. ⁣⁣⁣Just show them the way. ⁣ 

Tips for Effective Role-Model To Your Child:  

  • Include your children in family discussions, and use these as ways to show them how people can get along with others and work together. 
  • Practice what you preach. Children notice when you don’t. 
  • Work towards a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly. Avoid making negative comments about your body – and other people’s too. Not only will you be healthier, but you will send an important message about body image and acceptance. 
  • Show that you enjoy education and learning. If you make it seem interesting and enjoyable rather than a chore, you child is more likely to have a positive attitude toward school. 
  • Keep a positive attitude in your life – think, act, and talk in an optimistic way. 
  • Take responsibility for yourself by admitting your own mistakes and talking about how you can correct them. Do not blame everything that goes wrong on other people or circumstances. 
  • Use problem-solving skills to deal with challenges or conflicts in a calm and productive way. Getting upset or angry when a problem comes up teaches your child to respond in the same way. 
  • Show kindness and respect to others in your words and your actions. 

Raise Your Words, Not Your Voice

How many times a day do we say these things to our kids throughout the day? And often in a LOUD, BOOMING voice. 
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Want to know why those big reactions don’t work to change behavior?  

1. Loud voices scare kids, and scared kids “listen” less.  

2. Your kid automatically does more of what you give BIG attention to. So, when you give an unwanted behavior your attention, in a BIG LOUD way, you’re (accidentally) asking for more of that behavior.  
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Here’s an example: ⁠ 
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You’re enjoying exactly 22 seconds of time alone, washing dishes, when suddenly, little brother rips a toy out of big brother’s hands. Big brother instantly SCREAMS LIKE HE’S BEING STUNG BY BEES and hits little brother. 
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You turn the water off, storm into the room, rip the toy out of their hands, and LOUDLY say, “THAT’S ENOUGH! NO HITTING, WE ARE DONE!”⁠ 
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Real talk? Your HUGE reaction brings more chaos to the chaos, which is like throwing gasoline onto the fire. ⁠ 
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So, here’s what you should do instead. ⁠ 
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In that moment, you CALMLY, confidently step in – without a loud voice – and hold the boundary: “You’re angry and you want to hit. I won’t let you. I’m going to keep brother over here to keep him safe.” 
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And if you’re ready to REALLY level up? Rather than give your attention to the “bad” behavior, you want to focus on the “good” stuff you want more of. It’s a concept we call “Spotlight the Right.” 
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Here’s what it sounds like:⁠ 
“I noticed you shared that toy with your brother. That was really kind of you.”⁠ 
“Wow! You’re sitting calmly next to your baby sister! I think she likes that!”⁠ 
“Hey! I noticed you were having a really hard time putting your pants on, and instead of screaming, you just calmly asked me to help. Your calm words helped me understand what you needed! How do you feel? ⁠”⁠ 
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The idea is to spotlight the right—so you get MORE of the “right’ behavior! And real talk? YOUR perspective of your kid just might shift in the process. It’s kind of NICE to spend your day focusing on the good. It feels kind of GOOD to notice the good, instead of harping on the no’s.‍‍ 
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