5 Activities to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills

Even if you have a toddler, it is possible to help them improve their executive functioning skills. These are skills that are necessary for learning and success in life. There are several different models regarding executive functioning. Tom Brown, Ph.D is a leading ADHD researcher at the forefront of understanding how executive functions or lack thereof impacts quality of life for children.

My brief internet scouring revealed Brown’s break down as the most popular traits associated with  executive functioning. A mixture of Brown’s clusters can be found in various other models. He divides executive functions into six different “clusters.”

  1. Organizing, prioritizing and activating for tasks
  2. Focusing, sustaining and shifting attention to task
  3. Regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed
  4. Managing frustration and modulating emotions
  5. Utilizing working memory and accessing recall
  6. Monitoring and self-regulating action

Even as adults emotions can be overwhelming. Self-regulation can challenge us. Staying focus can…What was I saying again?

Oh…here are five activities to enhance executive functioning abilities in toddlers

1. Walking the line – Helps with focusing and attention. I used blue painter’s tape on the carpet to create a walkable design for A.J.

2. Family matching game – Utilizes memory and recall. I printed two photos of each  of our immediate family, laminated the photos, then added stars on the back of each matched pair so that A.J. would be able to find matches more easily. This game also helps with color recognition. The stars can be removed to increase difficulty.
3. Praying – I sometimes pray much longer than necessary in order to help A.J. develop patience. The food sits in front of him,but he has to wait until I’m finished with my very longwinded prayer before he can touch his food.
4. Calming Mind Glitter Jar – I learned about this idea on Pinterest. I believe the original blogger can be found at Still Life with Circles. Although I made this for A.J., I haven’t really used it yet. It is supposed to give him something to focus on that will help calm him down when he is frustrated. Shake the jar and watch the glitter settle. By the time it settles to the bottom, which is about 3 minutes, he should be a bit calmer. At his current stage however, he usually wants to nurse, wants my full attention, or is hungry. When I address his needs, he calms down. I do think the jar is a good idea for the near future. It’s made from a spagetti jar. I added water, blue glitter glue and purple glitter, I didn’t have blue glitter, but it still turned out beautifully.

Calming Mind Glitter Jar

5. Dance Freeze – A.J. likes to dance and to drum. Sometimes we play a game that I call Dance/Freeze. We dance, then when I say freeze, we have to stop until I say unfreeze. This helps A.J. to gain control over his body and slowly develops his ability to control himself. So far it works better with the dancing than it does with the drumming.
These five activities are fun ways to help improve A.J.’s executive functioning skills. Please share any other fun activities that you come across that you think should be added to this list.
Pray, Persist & Prosper!
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