Executive Functioning Development in Childhood: Your Brain Manager
Executive Functioning matures in many adults in the mid-to-late 20s, but it can be even later for those with ADHD or Executive Functioning deficits. It's important to recognize that Executive Functioning develops in humans just like anything else. Take for example Language Development - it doesn't just occur overnight. It takes time and practice to achieve. Executive Functioning can sound scientific but simplify it and think of it as your brain's manager.
Teens often want to be independent but they have an immature brain manager. So, while they feel like they can take on the world, they can act, but not maturely. For example, many teens can think they are independent enough to handle social media, but in reality, their brain manager is not mature enough to make good decisions. The brain manager would help regulate what might get posted or how the teen interacts with others - if that is not yet developed enough, it could lead to trouble.
As it comes to Executive Functioning practice and development, there are practical tools to work on and build. We can teach students methods for organization, planning and more. However, there are also some things that parents may have to simply let go of because the child's brain manager is not ready for those tasks. As a parent, you can continue to fight with your child on these things, but it may be simpler to just let go. If your expectations are too high, do yourself a favor: simplify your life and narrow your expectations. Give it time and raise your expectations slowly. REMEMBER: Get a free consultation with Star Tutoring to discuss how we can help with Executive Functioning Skills!
It's also important to note the Academic Development and Executive Functioning Development may not be in sync. A child can perform on grade level as a 10-year old in terms of academics, but their brain manager may be functioning like a 4 year old. You have to meet your child where they are. If you have the expectations for their independence level to operate at the 10 year-old level, but they aren't ready for it, then your expectations will not be aligned with reality. This will most likely cause many frustrations and arguments. Instead of this, adjust your expectations and develop a plan to help your child get caught up.
Finally, unlike academics, there is no 100% accurate test for ADHD and Executive Functioning. It operates in a gray area. Your expectations for a child's independence cannot be unambiguously decided. You have to measure it many times over time and compare it to their peer group. Therefore, do not jump to conclusions and make sure to keep a constant pulse on your child's brain manager.
For more on these topics, listen to this great CHADD podcast!