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What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Mar 12th, 2024 | by Jonathan Rodil, MS, OTR/L

Jonathan Rodil, MS, OTR/L

March 12th, 2024

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive functioning and its development is a skill formulated in the prefrontal cortex, and its diverse array of skills are important in our development. Executive functioning is in constant development, and it actually does not mature for females until ages 22-23, with males maturing at 24-25.

Executive functioning comprises the following skills: 

  • Planning – The ability to prioritise and plan out steps to reach a goal
  • Time management – The ability to use time wisely, efficiently, and effectively to accomplish tasks
  • Self- control and regulation– The ability to regulate your thoughts, actions, emotions, and to control our impulses
  • Perseverance – The ability to show resilience and problem-solve in the face of adversity
  • Organisation – The ability to maintain a system that keeps materials, assignments, and plans in order
  • Attention and engagement – Focusing on a person or task with engagement, and being able to shift this attention when needed
  • Flexibility – The ability to adapt to new situations
  • Self-motivation and initiation – The ability to initiate tasks on our own


How to Help a Child With Executive Functioning Problems

All of these important pieces of executive functioning are skills that occupational therapists work on with your child to further support their executive functioning development. What might this look like in an occupational therapy session?

1. Improving Self-Awareness

We may work on helping your child identify how their “engine” is running today, to gain better self-awareness about their regulation.

2. Teaching Sensory-Based Strategies

This may be followed by teaching your child appropriate sensory-based strategies to re-regulate themselves.

3. Trying Something Outside of Their Comfort Zone

We may work on flexibility, in being able to try something new that helps your child explore outside of their typical comfort zone.

4. Planning and Keeping Track of Time

We may encourage your child to have a collaborative approach in helping plan the session and keep track of time for each activity.

Executive Functioning Is the Root of All Occupations

Bottom line: executive functioning is at the root of all occupations, so this is definitely an important skill an occupational therapist will work on with your loved one.

Find Additional Resources in the NAPA Blog:

About the Author

Jonathan always knew that his life purpose was to help people. Jonathan is passionate about paediatric mental health, family-centered practice, and learning more about innovative evidence-based therapies. Jonathan refers to himself as an “oversized child” and loves the process of families working together to maximise a child’s full potential. In his free time, Jonathan plays basketball and music, dances, travels, watches his teams play, and hangs out with his friends and family (most especially his dog!)

About NAPA Centre

At NAPA Centre, we take an individualised approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualised programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals.

TAGS: Blogs, OT
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