Topic Progress:

Although you should not be unnecessarily concerned, there are simple things that you, as a parent, can do to help drive significant improvements in functioning which are proven to help teens improve their grades in a stress-free way. At this time, your child’s brain is still maturing. Their frontal lobes—which is the center for most of the executive functioning skills, including reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation—have not yet developed fully. But these interventions will also assist with optimal development that remains helpful throughout life. Getting the payoff in as early as possible is key.

Depending on which skills your child struggle with the most, and the particular task she’s doing, you might see the following signs (the main executive functioning skill involved is indicated in brackets):

  • Has difficulty being patient (Response inhibition)
  • Talking to friends in class (Response inhibition)
  • Needs to be told instructions or directions many times (Working memory)
  • Needs constant reminders and prompts to do something (Working memory)
  • Often getting upset or moody (Emotional control)
  • Becoming emotional when frustrated (Emotional control)
  • Has trouble paying attention and is easily distracted (Sustained attention)
  • Loses a chain of thought when interrupted (Sustained attention)
  • Has difficulty working out how to get started on a task (Task initiation)
  • Delays starting an assignment until the last moment (Task initiation)
  • Has trouble figuring out how much time a task requires (Planning/Prioritizing)
  • Has difficulty setting goals or plans for the future (Planning/Prioritizing)
  • Has an untidy room and workspace that interferes with getting things done (Organization)
  • Finds it difficult to organize study material to decide which is more important (Organization)
  • Does things either quickly and sloppily or slowly and incompletely (Time management)
  • Often misses deadlines (Time management)
  • Has trouble making decisions (Goal-directed persistence)
  • Gives up easily on a challenging task (Goal-directed persistence)
  • Has a hard time switching from one activity to another (Flexibility)
  • Gets frustrated with changes in schedules or routines (Flexibility)
  • Finds checking or evaluating her own work difficult (Metacognition)
  • Has difficulty utilizing feedback in an activity (Metacognition)
  • Is teased for being overweight (Healthy lifestyle)
  • Is often tired or have sleeping problems (Healthy lifestyle)

These are only selected examples of executive functions that your child require to perform daily tasks well. If any of these behaviors sounds familiar, it is time to help your child improve her executive functioning skills. A young person’s brain, including their frontal lobes, do not fully develop until age 22. Therefore, the teenage years present an amazing window of opportunity to steer brain development in the right direction. As the brain mature, changes generally become more difficult, so this is the right time to help create massive competitive upsides for your teen.