Executive Functions

1. Response Inhibition

The capacity to thing before you act; this ability to resist the urge to say or do something allows your children the time evaluate a situation and how his or her behavior might impact it. A young child can wait for a short period without being disruptive; and adolescent can accept a referee’s call without an argument.

2. Working Memory

The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future. A young child can hold in mind and follow on or two step directions. The middle school children can remember the expectations of multiple teachers.

3. Emotional Control

The ability to manage emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior. A young child with skill can recover from a disappointment in a short time. A teenager can manage the anxiety of a game or test and still perform.

4. Sustained Attention

The capacity to keep paying attention to a situation or task in spite of a distractibility, fatigue, or boredom. Completing a 5 minute chore with occasional supervision is an example of sustained attention in a younger child; a teenager can pay attention to homework, with short breaks for 1 to 2 hours.

5. Task Initiation

The ability to begin projects without undue procrastination, in an efficient or timely fashion. A young child is to able to start a chore or assignment right after instructions are given. A teenager does not wait until the last minute to begin a project.

6. Planning/Prioritization

The ability to create a roadmap to reach a goal or to complete a task. It also involves being able to make decisions about what’s important to focus on and what’s not important. A young child with coaching can think of a options to settle a peer conflict. A teenager can formulate a plan get a job.

7. Organization

The ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information and materials. A young child can with a reminder put toys in a designated place. A teenager can organize and locate sports equipment.

8. Time Management

The capacity to estimate how much time one has, how to allocate it, and how to stay within time limits and deadlines. It also involves a sense that time is important. A young child can complete a short job within a time limit set by an adult. A high school student can establish a schedule to meet task deadlines.

9. Goal-directed persistence

The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off by or distracted by competing interests. A first grader can complete a job in order to get to recess. A teenager can earn and save money over time to buy something of importance.

10. Flexibility

The ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information or mistakes. It relates to an adaptability to changing conditions. A young child can adjust to a change in plans without major distress. A high school student can accept an alternative such as a different job when the first choice is not available.

11. Metacognition

The ability to stand back and take a birds-eye view of oneself in a situation. It is an ability to observe how you problem solve. It also includes self-monitoring and self-evaluative skills (e.g., asking yourself, “How am I doing? or How did I do?”.. A young child can change behavior is response to feedback from an adult. A teenager can monitor and critique her performance and improve it by observing others who are more skilled.

12. Stress Tolerance

The ability to thrive in stressful situations and to cope with uncertainty, change, and performance demands.