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  • Writer's pictureKathy Cousineau

Recognizing Weaknesses in Executive Functioning Skills: Signs and Examples

Executive functioning skills are those skills that you use to manage everyday tasks like making plans, solving problems, and adapting to new situations. 


These skills allow us to pay attention, plan, organize, and prioritize our tasks. 

They help us to start tasks and stay focused on them until they are completed, and to make decisions, control our actions and manage our emotions. 


For example, when we need to do homework, our executive functioning skills help us to figure out what to do first, stay focused on the task, and stay calm even if it's hard. 


So, having strong executive functioning skills is like having a superpower that helps us succeed in school, at home, and in everyday life.


Post it with executive functioning skills written on them
Executive Functioning Skills

Common Characteristics of Weaknesses in Executive Functioning Skills Checklist:


1. Difficulty with Planning and Organizing:

  • Struggles to plan tasks or activities, often leading to disorganization and trouble completing assignments on time.

Example: Sarah struggles to plan her homework assignments, often forgetting due dates and losing track of materials needed for projects.


2. Poor Time Management:

  • Finds it hard to manage time effectively, resulting in difficulty prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines.

Example: John frequently underestimates how long tasks will take and rushes to complete assignments at the last minute.


3. Trouble with Focus and Attention:

  • Has difficulty staying focused on tasks, easily becomes distracted, and is unable to sustain attention for extended periods.

Example: David has difficulty concentrating on his math homework, often getting distracted by noises or thoughts and taking much longer to finish assignments than his peers.


4. Impulsivity and Difficulty with Impulse Control:

  • Acts impulsively without thinking through consequences, often making decisions without considering the long-term effects.

Example: Emily frequently blurts out answers in class without raising her hand, sometimes interrupting the teacher or classmates.


5. Difficulty with Flexibility and Adaptability:

  • Finds it challenging to adapt to changes in plans or routines, becoming upset or frustrated when faced with unexpected situations.

Example: Michael becomes upset and refuses to participate in a group project when the assigned roles are changed at the last minute.


6. Poor Working Memory:

  • Struggles to hold and manipulate information in the mind while completing tasks, leading to forgetfulness and difficulty following instructions.

Example: Alex needs help remembering multi-step instructions from the teacher, often forgetting key details and needing reminders.


7. Trouble with Problem-Solving and Decision-Making:

  • Finds it hard to solve problems or make decisions independently, often seeking assistance from others or avoiding decision-making altogether.

Example: Emma struggles to decide which elective classes to take next semester, becoming overwhelmed by the options and unable to make a decision.


8. Difficulty with Self-Monitoring and Self-Regulation:

  • Struggles to monitor and regulate behavior, leading to impulsivity, emotional outbursts, or difficulty controlling emotions.

Example: Jason frequently interrupts his classmates during group discussions, unaware of how his behavior affects others.


9. Executive Dysfunction in Social Situations:

  • Has trouble understanding social cues or navigating social interactions, often misinterpreting others' intentions or responses.

Example: Lily misinterprets her friend's teasing as mean-spirited, becoming upset and avoiding social interactions with the group.


10. Difficulty with Task Initiation:

  • Finds it challenging to start tasks or projects independently, often procrastinating or avoiding tasks altogether.

Example: Thomas procrastinates starting his English essay, spending hours on his phone before finally beginning the assignment late at night. Sometimes, Thomas's teachers report that he will just sit there and not begin classwork unless someone is sitting right next to him.


These characteristics can impact various aspects of daily life and academic performance, making it challenging to effectively manage tasks, regulate behavior, and navigate social situations.


If several of these signs are present, it might indicate weaknesses in executive functioning skills, and seeking support from educators or professionals can be beneficial.


If you think your child may have a weakness in executive functioning skills and would like to learn more about Executive Functioning Coaching, book a call with us.


We can discuss what this looks like and how we can best support them. 

We're here to provide you with valuable insights and practical strategies tailored to your child's needs. 


Let's work together to empower your child and unlock their full potential.


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