Just what is Executive Functioning and what does it mean to your child?

Executive Functioning

Executive functioning might sound complicated and something you might find in a multi-million-dollar corporation but we’re here to set the record straight.

What is Executive Functioning?

According to Harvard University:

“Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”

As Harvard go on to explain, children are not born with these skills they are born with the potential to develop them as they grow. Children’s interactions with parents, family, peers and the world around them help develop and hone these skills over time.

Sometimes children are not exposed to the right situations to create and manage these skills. This can be through no fault of the parents, and sometimes children just need assistance to develop their actions and thoughts.

What are some common Executive Functioning issues?

Executive functioning issues are difficulties with a set of important mental skills that are key to learning. Children who have trouble with executive function often struggle with working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control.

Some of the most common traits can be:

  • Have trouble starting and/or completing tasks
  • Being forgetful – forgetting what they’ve just heard or read
  • Have trouble following directions or a sequence of instructions
  • Panic when things change or are out of routine
  • Having trouble switching attention from one task to another
  • Get overly emotional and fixate on things or people
  • Have trouble organising their thoughts and lost interest
  • Constantly losing their belongings

How can Sydney Therapy Co help manage Executive Functioning issues?

At Sydney Therapy Co we can support you directly or via referrals from other medical/allied health professionals.

We begin with a tailored assessment will be designed to get the most information from your child. We use a combination of formal and informal assessment methods, including standardised assessments, interviews, observations, analyses of language and speech samples, perceptual assessments, and tailored tests to produce a holistic picture of your child’s strengths and weaknesses across a range of environments.

There can be many methods to help improve executive functioning ranging from coaching your child to focus on key skills such as ways to get and stay organised – through to skill building games that train the brain to develop focus and memory.

Each child is unique, so different methods will suit different individuals, we also work with parents to provide them with the knowledge and skills that support the work we do.


If you’d like some support or have any questions please free to get in touch with us!