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What does executive functioning mean?

Have you been told by a teacher or early childhood educator that your child has -

  • executive functioning challenges?

  • poor working memory?

  • slow processing speed?

Note: It is worth having your child’s eyesight and hearing tested as issues with sight and hearing can be mistaken for executive functioning issues.

The Executive Functioning Skills Team

These are a set of skills that help us to focus, learn, remember to do things and get through our day. Each skill is intertwined with the other skills and need to work together like a team. If one 'team member' is not as fit as the other members, it can impact the whole team.

The skills involved are:

· Self-regulation of our emotions and impulses (Eg: thinking before speaking or calling out; stopping ourselves from pushing over someone’s pencil case that is hanging over the desk; following rules even if we don’t want to.)

· Planning and Organisation of materials and time (Eg: packing a school bag; putting toys and clothes away so they don’t get misplaced or damaged; keeping track of time so not late for events; keeping track of time so homework tasks get done on time)

· Working Memory (Eg: being able to remember the instructions the teacher just gave; remembering a parent said not to leave school bag in the hall; listening to what’s happening in a story and be able to predict what’s likely to happen next; remembering the rules of a game, especially if there are many rules; remembering the consequence of breaking a rule; remembering more than one instruction at a time)

· Attention and focus – knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Children with ADHD find this particularly challenging as their brain tries to give everything around them attention. (Eg: focusing on what a parent is saying rather than what is on the computer screen nearby + what is happening out the window + thinking of what to make with the Lego block that can be seen on the other side of the room.)

· Flexible Thinking – adjusting what needs to be done to cater for different situations and circumstances. This involves problem-solving.

· Perseverance – being motivated to keep going to get the task done, even if it is not of interest.

Getting Support

These terms all sound a bit strange but the good news is, there are lots of easy things that can be done to strengthen these skills in children, adolescents and adults.

NaturalGrowth Childhood Counselling offers 1:1 "one-off" 1 hour information sessions where you can learn general tips and strategies to strengthen executive functioning skills.

There is no pressure or obligation to return for any future counselling sessions.

Interested in booking in?

Contact Jo on 0468 853 749 or


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