Eight Skills to Child Developmental Success

Eight Skills to Child Developmental Success

By: Jodie Maddox, parent coach

Ever wish there was a roadmap to help you navigate your child’s development? Believe it or not, Psychologists and Child Development Experts have known for years what it takes to help all of us, including our children, build healthy relationships and experience academic independence and success. We all depend on a set of skills known as Executive Functioning Skills to help day to day tasks. These eight skills to child developmental success help us stay organized, display self-control, and develop healthy relationships. We are not born with Executive Functioning Skills, these skills are taught and developed over time. There are eight Executive Functioning Skills critical to be successful in our relationships, jobs, at school … ultimately in life: impulse control, emotional control, working memory, flexible thinking, planning and prioritizing, task initiation, organization, and self-monitoring. 

Unfortunately, we are not born with these skills.  Executive Functioning Skills are behaviors we must develop over time. From the the beginning of life, as infants we learn to pay attention and respond to caregivers. These simple yet complex behaviors help develop focus, flexibility, and self-regulation. A simple game of peekaboo can help build memory and focus. At the ages of 3-5 Executive Functioning Skills begin to develop at a rapid rate; this is the time in a child’s life they begin to learn new skills daily like problem solving, developing friendships, and becoming independent thinkers. We see similar growth patterns in these same areas during adolescence. Throughout all stages of development, it is imperative that adults set up environmental structures and routines for children to learn, practice, and sharpen all of these eight skills for child developmental success.

Impulse Control – The ability to think before acting. Impulse control is developed when playing games, learning a new task, making friends, and learning healthy routines in areas like athletics, music, sleeping, diet, and exercise. 

Emotional Control – The ability to keep feelings in check. When children can control their emotions, they are able to make friends, trust their own instincts, make decisions, create, problem solve and work independently. 

Working Memory – The ability to keep, recall and use key information. As humans we rely on our working memory for everything. Having a dependable working memory allows children to learn, make decisions, problem solve, and collaborate with others. A strong working memory is strengthened through playing, reading, acting, singing, dancing, writing and playing sports. 

Flexible Thinking – The ability to adjust one’s own behavior to unexpected challenges. This skill helps us move from one situation to another, responding appropriately to the situation at hand. These skills can mature by playing Legos, blocks, Play-Doh, Lincoln Logs. It also develops with telling jokes, taking turns, writing poetry, making up silly words, making up new rules to traditional games, or using ordinary objects in different ways. 

Planning and Prioritizing – The ability to set and meet goals, begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, or apply problem solving strategies. Sharpen these skills by playing games, making checklists, managing sleep routines, having and keeping a schedule, setting and keeping healthy boundaries around technology, sleep, and nutrition. 

Organization – The ability to keep track of items physically and mentally. Activities like art, music, playing games, note taking, writing/journaling, completing tasks, having a chore list,  or keeping school supplies together all help develop organizational skills. 

Self-Monitoring – The ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against some standard of what is needed or expected. This is also known as metacognition. Journaling, yoga, listening to music, drawing, meditating, reading nonfiction material and reflecting on it’s importance in your own life all deepens one’s ability to self-monitor. 

If you are interested in improving your ability to instill your child with these eight skills to child developmental success, consider joining our guided parenting support group and let Jodi help you help your child reach their potential!

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