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Executive Function: What is that?

Lucy, a third grader, needs to get to the bus on time to get to school. She is never able to get out the door on time. It doesn’t matter when her mother wakes her up, extra time doesn’t seem to matter.

Jimmy, a high school senior, has shut down. He has a term paper due and midterms coming up, but he doesn’t know where to begin. Instead of working on his paper or hitting the books, he heads out for a night with a few of the guys.

Joe, a hard worker, can never seem to please his boss. He shows up at work, works all day, yet fails to meet his deadlines. His boss gets frustrated, but he is bewildered.

These three examples all point to a deficit of Executive Functions. Executive Functions are those skills that each of us develop over our lives that enable us to get things done.

Michelle Garcia Winner puts it simply:

“Executive functioning means to have a goal, to think about how to achieve that goal, to create an action plan to get to the goal, and to self-regulate behaviors and emotions to carry out the goal.”

So, what does this mean for Lucy, Jimmy, Joe, and many more like them?

Each of our friends have a goal, whether it is catching the bus, writing a paper, or meeting the boss’s deadlines. But how to achieve these goals? That takes a multistep approach that for many people is instant, but for others needs to be broken down into bite size pieces. In the coming weeks we will explore these steps that can help you or your child succeed.

Join me on this journey!

Make a list of two or three goals that you have that you would like to meet, but have so far been unsuccessful with.

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