backpack

Executive Function Development and Your Children: All is Not Lost (Even if Often it Seems That, Literally, They’ve Lost All Their Things)

backpack“Mom, that burrito is still in my backpack.”

Burrito? What burrito? In his school back pack?

Surely my twelve-year-old son couldn’t be referring to the egg and cheese breakfast burrito I bought him last week. (Yes. Yes, he was.)

Today was one of those days when I felt like everyone in my family needs his own personal assistant. It was the kind of day where it seemed like I simply couldn’t keep up with the amount of missing apparel items, the crumpled assignment sheets (and burritos, apparently) shoved to the bottom of backpacks, the misplaced books, as well as the reminders to brush teeth and apply deodorant.

Would it surprise you to learn that the most predictive factor of academic and professional success is not intelligence? If you are the parent of a gifted child, I’m willing to bet you know that the answer to that question is executive functioning. Executive functioning is how the brain regulates itself: cognitive processes such as attention, inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility, delaying gratification/working toward a long-term goal, planning/organization, and emotion regulation.

I really try not to engage in schadenfreude, but whenever I witness evidence that my family isn’t the only family struggling with executive functioning issues, I do feel, at the very least, a little less alone. And, for those of us whose children have messy backpacks while wearing only one winter boot during a mini-meltdown over the long-term project due tomorrow, there is hope.

According to clinical psychologist and Mackintosh Academy-Littleton parent Katie Bellon, “executive functions mainly involve the prefrontal cortex, which fully develops in most people around 25-years old.” All is not lost—there’s still time to help your children’s executive functioning development!

Katie has years of private practice experience. At an upcoming Parent Education event she will share a research-based perspective on what parenting style works best for promoting executive functioning skills in children, how structure versus a lack of structure can affect the development of executive functioning skills, and, as a bonus, she will share some tips and strategies for parenting gifted kids in the summer. Join us at the Mackintosh Academy-Littleton campus on Wednesday, April 29th from 6:30-8pm!

The event will be B.Y.O.B. (Bring your own burrito.)