Last week we started discuss Executive Function Disorder and how it can impact on our children’s behavior. Many times children have difficulties in the areas of Executive Function. We talked about how Executive Functions encompass the following areas, Inhibition, Working memory, Organization of Materials and Self-Monitoring.
We also discussed that Executive Function Disorder strongly relates to deficiencies in crucial emotional and physiological development, referred to as Executive Skills. Executive Skills encompass the following areas:Language Development, Language Processing, Emotional Regulation Skills, Cognitive Flexibility Skills and Social Skills. We covered the Executive Skills, of Language Development and Language Processing in our last 2 posts. Today we will discuss the Executive Skill of Emotion Regulation and Cognitive Flexibility Skills:
- Emotion Regulation Skills
We previously mentioned that regulating emotions helps solve problems. It is also important to note that there are some children whose temperament is such that they are more prone to be irritable, cranky and frustrated. They experience moods more intensely than happy-go-lucky type of kids. Their ability to be flexible and handle frustration is compromised by their temperament. Being able to regulate your emotions means that you can delay gratification, and control your impulsive behavior which are important for children to develop into healthy adults.
Emotional Regulation is needed throughout the day, especially when children are in school. This is how children get ready for learning, stay on task and approach any problem solving activity.
Children who lack emotion regulation skills will have more difficulty in the classroom and are more likely to exhibit problem behavior.
- Cognitive Flexibility Skills
Young children in general are black and white thinkers. They have a tough time understanding nuances. They are invariably inflexible. As children grow they ideally develop cognitive flexibility, and become more flexible in their thinking and are able to process the “grey” areas of life. Children who exhibit challenging behavior have difficulties in this area. According to Ross W. Greene in his book “The Explosive Child” these children have what he calls, cognitive flexibility dysfunction.
That means they have trouble approaching the world in a flexible, adaptable way. They get extremely frustrated when they have to switch gears and when things don’t go as they planned. They have a strong need for routine and fight their parents when their is a change or when rules and limits are ambiguous.
For example, these children might balk if their parents choose to go out for dinner instead of staying home, or if a play date has been cancelled because of illness. Parents will find themselves very quickly entangled in a power struggle or dealing with a temper tantrum.
As I mentioned in our last post, we are reviewing a lot of information here. We are working on putting this all together in a report form for our subscribers. But for now, stay tuned for our next and last post in the series. We will talk about the last Executive Skill: Social Skills.