For those of you who follow this blog or read my other “stuff,” you know that my overall is to present to parents in down-to-earth, understandable terms, concepts that I think have become unnecessarily complicated.

“Executive Functioning” is a term I hear parents use a great deal, but when I ask them what they are referring to, I usually get a shrug and a look of confusion (even though they are pretty sure their child has it).

When it comes to “executive functioning,” here are few points to keep in mind:

Ship’s Rudder: Think of “executive functioning” like the rudder to a ship helping to steer things along.  For many kids they have firm “rudders” and their boat is well-steered. Tasks get started and finished.  Completing homework is no big deal.

For others, their rudder is quite floppy, which leads to floundering around and not staying on course.  Homework is rarely completed.  Basic tasks like walking the dog or putting things away are an enormous chore.

Late Maturing of the Rudder: For many of the students of concern (especially the boys), there is a late maturing of the “rudder.” Effectively, these children are not on the same timetable of school.

 Be careful with comparing your child to the average or the “norm,” as your child may be outside of the norm with the various executive functioning skills, such as task initiation and sustained effort.

The Goldilocks Rule and the 10% Standard: One of the toughest questions parents grapple with is how much they should be involved on a day-to-day basis.

Many parents that I meet (ok, the moms) are very involved with the child’s school work.  As the mom does everything she can to get the child to do their work, the child is ignoring it all while they are on TikTok, Youtube or whatever.

When it comes to parent involvement, I like parents to be thinking of the “10% solution,” which means that the parent should be approximately 10% or so involved.

The “Goldilocks Standard” is also something I mention when considering their involvement.

That is, if you are in too deep (i.e., the soup is too hot) then the kid will not be taking sufficient personal responsibility for things like homework.  Why worry about work if the parent is doing most of the worrying, anyway?.

On the other hand, if you are not involved  (i.e., the soup is too cold) with a weak-rudder type of child, then the child will flounder.

Takeaway Point

Try and find the sweet-spot of parental involvement – not too hot, not too cold, but just right and you will be on the path to helping move things forward.

Copyright, 2022 (revised from 8/20/21)

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick: