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Three in Seven

Welcome to the first installment of ES&B’s “Three In Seven”, 3 EF-friendly tips in a 7-minute time block. Today, our topic covers three tips to build your child’s executive function skills during the summer.

Summer gives most students (and parents) a break from the high-stress school year. Families get time to relax and recharge. I am a huge supporter of having downtime. Everyone needs it. However, during break, parents can create opportunities to build those much-needed executive function skills in their child.

Tip #1: Establish clear daily expectations for your child. 

“Expectations” can be interpreted in a way that fits within your family’s core values. They can include doing daily chores before electronic use, some form of physical exercise during the day, or helping prepare dinner for the family. Whatever you choose, be sure to establish realistic expectations. Tasks need to align with your child’s abilities. To keep them motivated, ensure they experience a sense of accomplishment upon completing their tasks. The ideal task is one that is challenging enough to be meaningful, yet not too difficult to cause extreme frustration and the possibility of them just quitting. For example, while cleaning out the attic might be too demanding for a 13-year-old, they could certainly be responsible for tasks like making their bed, getting dressed, and helping with dishes throughout the day. Household chores provide valuable opportunities to build executive function skills at home! 

Tip #2: Agree on a summer home-project for your child to complete.

Does your child’s room need an overhaul? Do they need to go through their belongings taking up space in the garage? Perhaps it’s time for your child to take on the responsibility of managing their laundry. Depending on their age, most children can contribute to home projects. Once you’ve decided, help your child break down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks. Create a realistic timeline for when they’ll work on it throughout the summer—will it be daily, weekly, or bi-weekly? Define what “finished” looks like so your child can visualize the end goal. If possible, provide both a written and visual plan. For example, have a picture of a clean and organized closet for them to reference as they tidy up their own. Expect some resistance and moments of low motivation. Stay calm and demonstrate the steps needed to complete the task. Begin with more scaffolding and gradually step back as your child gains confidence. When your child experiences frustration, remember that they’re expressing their feelings. As parents, it’s our role to meet them where they are and guide them towards healthier ways of moving forward.

Tip #3: Connect daily with your child.

The school year often brings busy schedules that may find families acting more like roommates than a closely connected unit. Go for a walk together, play the video game they like, plan a meal and prepare it together, go on a drive and listen to music they enjoy (even if it’s not your favorite). Demonstrate the importance of quality time by planning “fun nights” where each person gets to choose the activity.
Another way to connect with your child is by making self-care a priority for yourself. When we openly prioritize personal-wellness, we demonstrate to our children the importance of taking time to reset when life becomes overwhelming. Connecting with ourselves fosters a deeper connection with our children. Use the summer months as an opportunity to strengthen these bonds, ensuring you’re better equipped to navigate your busy life.

The summer months present a chance for parents to support their ADHD child in developing essential executive function skills. By establishing clear expectations, guiding them through meaningful projects, and fostering daily connections, parents can empower their children to thrive. Progress takes time and patience. Setbacks are a natural part of the learning process. As you navigate this journey together with your child, embrace each challenge as an opportunity for growth and connection. It lays the foundation for a brighter, more empowered future for your child.

Erin Upchurchblob 1

Erin Upchurch

As a professional executive function coach, I prioritize maintaining a positive outlook, building strong relationships with my students, and providing unwavering support to parents.