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15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

It wasn’t that long ago when the only resource that parents could reliably turn to were books. Nowadays, flipping through a book may not be most parents’ first instinct when looking for parenting advice.

Instant access to blogs, websites, and forums provide multitudes of answers and “expert opinions,” which can either be helpful or contradicting and overwhelming. Books are still a valuable resource when it comes to parenting. Just because information is printed in a book does not mean it is infallible.

However, it is much easier to find reliable reviews and criticisms of published works from reputable sources than of websites or blogs.

The following parenting books discuss topics about parenting that start at conception and cover all the way to young adulthood.

Whether you are looking for advice about disciplining your toddler, how to parent your spirited child, or cross-cultural parenting techniques, you will find everything you need in this list:

1. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know, by Emily Oster

    Parents are able to influence the development of their child the moment they are conceived, through factors such as the mother’s diet, the home environment, and secondhand smoke.

    There are countless activities that pregnant women are told can have a positive or negative impact on the baby, from eating sushi to prenatal yoga. But which of these are based on scientific evidence and which are just hearsay?

    Expecting Better delves into these widespread pregnancy beliefs and produces statistics and facts that spell out the actual risk associated with each. The book is laid out by in chronological order, from conception to delivery, and describes many of the most common worries that expectant mothers have.

    The overarching message of the book is that there is no right or wrong answer for anything when it comes to pregnancy.

    Get the book here!

    2. The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, by Alice Callahan

      This book addresses many of the questions that new mother have about their babies in the first six months of their lives. Many controversial topics are addressed, such as vaccines, breastfeeding, and sleep.

      The author has a PhD in nutrition and writes in detail about the types of food to introduce to your babies early on to meet all of their dietary needs. A variety of scientific studies are used throughout the book to serve as support for the author’s opinions, and Callahan also explains how the average person can discern the validity of studies and their claims.

      Get the book here!

      3. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame, by Janet Lansbury

        As a new parent, it can seem like your tiny baby grows into a toddler overnight, and a new element of parenting is suddenly required – discipline. Not only are your little ones gaining mobility and independence, they are also developing their own personalities and trying to figure out how to navigate this confusing world.

        As an RIE teacher with over 20 years of hands on experience helping parents and their toddlers, Janet Lansbury is an expert in this field. This book is compilation of her most popular and widely read articles that she first published on her own website.

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        The articles cover a wide range of topics, including tantrums, hitting, boundaries, and more. If you are struggling to find effective ways to discipline your tenacious toddler, this book might be just what you need.

        Get the book here!

        4. Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

          All kids are NOT created equally. Some children are born with a natural tendency to be more strong-willed, and it is not at all a reflection of the way they have been parented. However, it does make parenting a more difficult task and can often leave parents feeling like they are doing something wrong.

          This book recognizes that these children need a slightly different approach and give parents strategies on how to deal with challenging situations, such as bedtime, mealtimes, sibling rivalry, school, and more.

          Rather than viewing the intensity of these children as obstacles, Kurcinka teaches parents how to re-frame their thinking to see the positive components of their behavior. It’s crucial that parents try to understand why their children are behaving the way they are and this book gives you tools to nurture challenging kids successfully.

          Get the book here!

          5. Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times, by Zoe Weil

            Living in a society where senseless violence and animosity have become the new normal, the task of raising a kind and loving child can seem almost impossible. But what the world needs now, more than ever, are compassionate people who care about the environment, other living species, and all people.

            Weil advises parents on how to guide their children towards living a more humane life, but most importantly, living their own as a message and an example. All age groups are included, from the early years all the way to young adulthood, and activities, important issues, tips, and more are discussed for each.

            The four elements that Weil emphasizes in raising human children are providing information, teaching critical thinking, instilling reverence, respect, and responsibility, and offering positive choices. Being kind is not synonymous with grand gestures. The little things people do on a daily basis will make the biggest difference.

            Get the book here!

            6. The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

              When your children decide to throw tantrums because you wouldn’t let them ride in the shopping cart standing up, are they doing that just to embarrass you in public and make you look like an incompetent parent?

              Not at all!

              They are simply adjusting to their rapidly developing minds and coming to terms with their desires and the parameters within which they must live. They are allowing their emotions to take over because they are not equipped to tackle the situation in a more rational manner.

              Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, and Bryson, a parenting expert, teamed up to decode the complexities of the young developing mind to give you 12 strategies to transform challenging emotionally driven reactions into opportunities to help your children cultivate healthy development and productive behaviors for life.

              Get the book here!

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              7. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, by Rebecca Eanes

                There are too many parenting books out there to read them all! Which ones are worth reading and which techniques are the most effective?

                Eanes does not claim to be a parenting “expert” but rather, a real mom, fully entrenched in the joy and hardships of parenthood. This book is the culmination of the parenting techniques she learned that actually worked for her family throughout the years, repackaged in an easy to ready format.

                The first half focuses solely on the parent and provides many tips on how to work on our response and emotions and increasing self-awareness before engaging with our children. She also includes many suggestions, techniques, and discussion questions to help you move from theory to practice.

                So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.

                Get the book here!

                8. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

                  It can be easy for parents to yell and lash out when their kids are having a meltdown for seemingly frivolous reasons. However, it’s important to remember that young kids need to be heard and understood, and they are expressing themselves in the only way they know how.

                  This book helps parents to navigate the complicated but fragile methods of communication with their children that will tremendously impact their behavior and development.

                  It’s crucial that parents acknowledge the feelings that their children are feeling and show them that they understand, before setting out to try to resolve the issue. Their feelings are valid and important and need to be expressed.

                  Another point that is emphasized is to make correcting behavior about the behavior and not about the child. Changing the way parents talk to their children will lay a much stronger foundation for communication and improve the parent-child relationship tremendously.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne

                    A growing trend towards minimalist living has many families purging their closets, downsizing their homes and going against the consumerist culture that advertising and the media promotes. This mindset can also be applied to parenting.

                    Children do not need packed schedules full of activities or toy boxes filled to the brim. They also don’t need their parents to worry and obsess about their every move. To help parents adopt this more simplistic mindset, Payne gives suggestions such as streamlining your environment, establishing rhythms and rituals, scheduling breaks, scaling back on media, and lessening parental involvement.

                    Don’t overwhelm your children with too many choices and then step back to allow them to grow into the people they are meant to become more independently.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, by Dr. Laura Markham

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                      They say that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. This mantra is true in many facets of life.

                      Parents have a better chance of fostering deep, genuine relationships with their children if they use techniques that focus on love, compassion, empathy, and gentleness, rather than fear, strict rules, and discipline.

                      Markham guides parents to get in touch with and master their own emotions, so that they can parent with empathy, open communication, and healthy limits, encouraging children to be self-disciplined and accountable for their own actions.

                      “What matters most: Stay connected and never withdraw your love, even for a moment. The deepest reason kids cooperate is that they love you and want to please you. Above all, safeguard your relationship with your child. That’s your only leverage to have any influence on your child. It’s what your child needs most. And that closeness is what makes all the sacrifices of parenting worth it.”

                      Get the book here!

                      11. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

                        In contrast to typical parenting books, this book contradicts many commonly held beliefs about what is best for children and uses current social science studies as evidence for a new way of thinking.

                        For example, several studies showed that kids who are commonly threatened with punishment lie more frequently and get better at doing it. Another chapter talks about the fact that when white parents don’t talk about the issue of race or bring attention to it, kids tend to form their own (racist) opinions about people who look different from them.

                        Although some claims are lacking in details and specifics about how to tangibly apply it parenting practices, there is a lot of useful and surprising information to be gleaned from this book.

                        Get the book here!

                        12. Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen

                          According to Cohen, kids misbehave because they feel disconnected from their parents and not heard. They act out in order to get attention, even if it is negative attention.

                          The best way to connect with kids is to speak the language they know best – playing. Frequent physical constant and being willing to play the fool are two key strategies that are emphasized in the book. Kids are made to feel foolish so often in their lives, when they are constantly being told what to do and being corrected.

                          When the tables are turned, kids are able to see their parents in a more relatable light.

                          Get the book here!

                          13. Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential, by Eileen Kennedy-Moore & Mark S. Lowenthal

                            For kids who can be categorized as gifted or bright, different parenting techniques may be required in order to help these children achieve their highest potential, without feeling pressured.

                            The four essential components of smart parenting are laid out: a compassionate ability to view the world through our children’s eyes, the confidence to set judicious limits, a commitment to turn toward our children more often than away, and faith in our children’s ability to grow and learn.

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                            In additional, seven fundamental challenges are addressed in great detail: tempering perfectionism, building connection, managing sensitivity, handling cooperation and competition, dealing with authority, developing motivation, and finding joy.

                            If these are topics that resonate with you, this may be a helpful resource to help you help your kids succeed.

                            Get the book here!

                            14. Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age, by Maya Thiagarajan

                              After the massive success of the honest and confrontational book describing strict Chinese parenting techniques in practice, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, a massive debate was ignited, comparing Eastern and Western parenting styles.

                              Which approach is better and more effective? Why do Asian students do so well in math and science?

                              Thiagarajan is uniquely qualified to address these questions because of her personal experience growing up in India, and teaching in both the U.S. and Singapore. She explains the advantages and pitfalls of both methods of parenting and gives specific tips in a “How To” section in each chapter to aid Asian and Western parents in education and development both in and out of the classroom.

                              Get the book here!

                              15. The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline, by L.R. Knost

                                Many parents who are currently raising young kids did not grow up in a household where gentle parenting took place. Yelling, corporal punishment, and threats were commonly used means of discipline for many decades.

                                Knost presents an alternative way of parenting – a gentle way – that is still as effective, if not more so. She explains the importance of treating children as people, with respect and one-another-love (Golden Rule).

                                This book is centered around the implementation of the three C’s of gentle discipline – Connection, Communication, and Cooperation.

                                Some suggestions for tools that parents can utilize in the place of yelling or aggression in include: prevention, remind and redirect, silliness, modeling, and teaching empathy.

                                “Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so your children can hear your words, not just your voice.”

                                Get the book here!

                                Final thoughts

                                Being a good parent is a complicated and difficult challenge to take on.

                                Many of us are still holding onto to mistakes that our parents made with us when we were kids, vowing not to do the same to our own children. But no parent is perfect, and everyone will inevitably get something wrong.

                                These books are here to provide some guidance in tackling this impossible task. They have helped countless other parents in helping to communicate, understand, and relate to their children, so it may be worthwhile to give them a chance.

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                More by this author

                                Katie Lemons

                                Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

                                14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids) Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start 11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother 15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

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                                Published on March 5, 2020

                                How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

                                How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

                                Tommy wants his toy back. His brother is playing with his favorite toy and he wants it back. Tommy starts to scream and is hitting his brother uncontrollably. He is three and these fits of rage and lack of self-control rear their ugly head daily. Their parents rush into the room and diffuse the situation. They are at a loss as to why Tommy has little to no self-control.

                                Is it just the terrible twos that are stretching beyond the twos? Or is there something else that can better explain his behavior?

                                Actually, Tommy, like many little tots, is still developing his executive functioning skills. These skills are imperative in helping us regulate our behaviors and exhibit self-control. Parents need to understand the role of executive functioning skills and how they can help their child develop these skills.

                                I will provide an explanation of these skills and tips in this article to help parents with this understanding.

                                What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

                                Executive function is processes in the brain that help us function. Executive function helps with the execution of the variety of skills. These are a top 10 list of the skills associated with executive functioning:

                                • Paying attention
                                • Completion of a task from start to finish
                                • Self-motivation
                                • Self control, impulse control, and inhibition (the ability to control one’s actions and behaviors)
                                • Organize and make decisions
                                • Manage time properly for completion of tasks
                                • Mental flexibility (being able to change directions with a task when needed)
                                • Accurate self-assessment (able to look at one’s abilities and achievements objectively)
                                • Memory and recall (ability to keep information and retrieve it when needed)
                                • Task initiation (ability to dive into a project and get started)

                                People with low executive functioning skills have a harder time socializing, getting tasks completed, and controlling their basic impulses. There are a variety of problems and even diagnosable disorders associated with executive dysfunction.

                                For example, when a first grader with poor executive functioning skills wants the pink ball at recess, and another littler girl has the only pink ball, the little girl who wants the ball may hit the other child because her impulse is to do whatever it takes to get that ball.

                                She has not developed the skills to process the situation logically nor the ability to develop a plan to ask politely to share the ball. Her executive functioning skills are not developed enough so she reacts without thinking about the consequences. Her impulses take over.

                                The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the role of executive function as follows:[1]

                                Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

                                We are not born with executive functioning skills. These skills are something we develop.

                                Good parenting methods can help with the development of these skills. They are important because the benefits of learning these skills can last for a lifetime. These skills are those we begin building early in life and we can continue building upon in childhood and into adulthood.

                                This building upon skills is called scaffolding. It is never too late to develop executive functioning skills, but the earlier they can begin developing the better off a person will be in handling life, as the skills build upon themselves.

                                The Importance of Executive Functioning Skills

                                Executive functioning skills affect us in every area of life. Here are some examples.

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                                Health

                                If a teenager doesn’t have good impulse control skills, then that individual may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure. Their lack of self control can affect their decision making and lead to drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or addiction to pornography.

                                The executive functioning skill of self-control has an effect on our food choices. If we lack self control with food, we are more likely to make poor food choices, based on impulses. Junk food can easily become the go-to food for an individual who lacks self-control with food.

                                Academic Success

                                Memory is one of the primary areas of executive functioning. If an individual has not developed good memory and recall skills, they will likely do poor in school.

                                Studying for exams, learning how to memorize and recall information are imperative to success in school. Planning skills and task management skills (i.e. completion of assignments) is also imperative to academic success.

                                Career Success

                                If someone has poor executive functioning skills in the area of planning and task execution, then career success will be limited.

                                When assigned a work project, the individual with poor planning skills may wait until the last minute to prepare their presentation. Their poor time management and planning skills can lead to workplace failures.

                                Social Relationships

                                When a child doesn’t have good executive functioning skills which includes self-control, they may fail to see the feelings of others in the moment.

                                When they lose at a game, they may sulk or cry. They may also yell at their playmates when they don’t get their way. Worse yet, they can act out violently, such as hitting and biting when someone has a toy that they want. Their ability to control their impulses is poor when they have not developed good executive functioning skills.

                                Romantic Relationships

                                The man who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer when it comes to physical romantic interactions may be someone who lacks impulse control. He may know right from wrong, but he has not learned how to control his impulses. This can obviously lead to major problems in any romantic relationship.

                                If you don’t want a son who rapes girls (or vice versa, because that happens too), then you need to instill more than a sense of right and wrong. They must also be taught self-control and to navigate their impulses to make good decisions in heated situations.

                                Ways to Help Your Child Develop Executive Functioning Skills

                                A great deal of executive functioning skill development occurs during childhood. How a child is raised will have a big impact on whether or not they have developed good executive functioning skills by adulthood.

                                1. Routines

                                Daily routines can help establish order and predictability. Children (and adults) benefit from routines that establish good daily habits. For example, in the morning some good habits to establish and expect from children are getting dressed, brushing their teeth, putting on their shoes, combing their hair and preparing their backpack.

                                Making their bed, picking up their room, and other chores are also good daily tasks to add to the routine if your child isn’t doing them already. If you wonder what kind of chores are age appropriate for your child, you can check out this posting from Focus on the Family. They have provided examples of age appropriate charts along with a free printable chore chart.

                                If your child has difficulty getting things done in the morning, then create a chart for them to check off their tasks as they complete them each morning. You can find charts online for purchase, such as major creative websites like Etsy. They have magnet boards that can be customized for tasks you want your child to do each morning. Amazon has a variety of these premade boards for sale.

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                                Just use the search terms “daily routine charts” or “morning routine charts” and you will find lots of options. If you are crafty you can easily make one yourself. Below is chart of one such product found on Amazon using the search terms I mentioned above.

                                  2. After School Homework Time

                                  Most kids do not come home from school and decide to get started on their homework. It would be great if they did! If your child does this, then you need to realize you have a unicorn. Most children need reminding about homework, especially in the early days when they first start receiving homework.

                                  It is helpful to set aside a specific time period after school when homework is to be completed. For example, you can set a rule that they must do it immediately after school, and they cannot use electronics or play until it is finished.

                                  Getting your child in the habit of doing their homework sooner than later helps with planning skills. Having a teenager who waits until 11pm on a Sunday night to start a book report that they have known about for a week is a bad habit.

                                  Don’t let your child become an out of control procrastinator. Start teaching them time management and planning skills early in life. You will reap the benefits too.

                                  Start helping them plan on getting homework done before they can play is a good policy. It also helps with developing self control, as they must get the work done before they can do something enjoyable. They learn to appreciate their electronics and free time more when they have accomplished a task (i.e. homework) to earn the right to play.

                                  3. Calendar/Agenda

                                  Get your child in the habit of using a calendar or agenda book at an early age. When I was in 6th grade, our school issued an agenda book to each student. I have since been using the organizational habits I learned from that time in my life. I will still record writing deadlines among other appointments in my book.

                                  Have your child record their assignments in their own agenda book. Putting major assignments on a calendar is also helpful.

                                  Using a calendar or agenda book can help with establishing planning skills. If they look at their calendar in the morning and see that they have their term project due and basketball practice after school, they can go out the door with the completed project in hand along with clothes for practice. Helping your child prepare for their day, week, and month becomes easier when it is visible on a calendar.

                                  Do digital calendars work? Yes, but not as well as paper calendars. There is always a risk of losing things that are digital or having a dead phone. Having it on paper can also allow for a quick “month at a glace” viewing (if they have calendar that shows month to month like I do). Such a glace can provide quick reminders of what needs to get done in the near future or appointments that need preparation.

                                  4. Set Rules

                                  Rules are the backbone of the household function. If kids don’t know what time they are supposed to be home, what chores are expected, and when they should be going to bed, then they are not learning planning skills in the home.

                                  Kids need clearly defined rules. It doesn’t mean that they have to be strict or over the top rules. However, they need to be clearly conveyed to each member of the household. Putting them in writing will definitely make it clear.

                                  Setting clear rules such as no shoes in the house, no yelling indoors, no eating in the living room, etc. can help kids understand the parameters for their behavior inside the home. This helps them to develop self-control as they learn what is expected.

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                                  Broken rules should result in consequences (for example in our home it is usually loss of technology time or a time-out). Setting rules is setting expectations. This helps with children and their development of a variety of executive functioning skills including planning, organization, time management, paying attention, and self control.

                                  5. Consequences

                                  Consequences definitely help with the development of self-control. If your toddler learns that temper tantrums always lead to time outs, then they eventually stop with the tantrums because they realize they aren’t worth it.

                                  Consequences should be reasonable and age appropriate. For more details on this topic, you can check out my previously published article: How to Discipline a Child.

                                  6. Break Down Big Tasks

                                  Kids that have a hard time getting started on large projects or tasks simply feel overwhelmed and they freeze up. Help your child out by breaking down a larger task.

                                  For example, if they have a book report due next month then help them examine the steps involved. First would be writing the book, next writing the report, and finally turning in the report before the deadline. You can help them set the dates to get each of the tasks completed in a timely fashion. You can even go as far as helping them assign themselves specific chapters to read by certain dates. It helps them to see their big task as a series of small tasks that they can complete more easily and build upon.

                                  Breaking down big tasks can help with a child who has problems getting started on projects. It can also help them develop their planning, organization, and follow-through skills. These are all executive functioning skills that are wonderful to develop earlier in life than later.

                                  7. Memory Games and Play

                                  Playing games and allowing your child to play can help with the development of executive functioning skills. Memory is one of the top ten executive functioning skills.

                                  To help a child develop their memory, you can play matching games, such as the one actually called Memory. You can also play sorting games, hide and seek, and matching games. These types of activities can help with memory, recall, and the development of other executive function skills too (i.e. planning, organization, motivation).

                                  Teaching your child to sing songs from memory and play an instrument are also very helpful in developing executive functioning skills. Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child provides a resource list of fun activities you can do with your child to help them develop their executive functioning skills.[2]

                                  8. Motivate

                                  Internal motivation

                                  does not come automatically for all kids. Sometimes children need to have external motivation to get them down the path toward success. Once they feel success and enjoy their pursuits, they will learn to self motivate.

                                  To get them started you may need to help motivate them. Offering genuine praise for their success is one way to motivate. If you are motivating them away from bad decisions, you may need to use consequences or discipline. However, praise and rewards are always more motivating in the long run.

                                  9. Home Organization

                                  It is hard for a child to learn how to be organized, not lose their personal items, and keep on schedule if their home life is chaos. A home that is clutter filled, unkept, and where things are easily lost does not lend itself to helping a child develop good executive functioning skills.

                                  Some home organization methods that can help your child include having a specific place for backpacks, coats, and shoes to be placed when not being used. This will help with their routine, planning, and time management skills.

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                                  Having them participate in keeping a home in order helps with their development of executive functioning skills, as they are learning about organization, planning, task initiation, and task completion. Overall, the best benefits of an organized home are their development of time management skills and routine.

                                  10. Self Control Techniques

                                  Self control is an executive functioning skills that is imperative to life success. If you have a child who is still throwing temper tantrums in public at age 10 because they can’t control themselves, then you definitely have a problem.

                                  There should be consequences for lack of self control that is disruptive or damaging. For example, a child’s tantrums can result in loss of play time, or a child who steals a classmate’s lip gloss simply because they wanted it (lack of impulse control) will need to return it, apologize to the classmate, and will be grounded for a week. Whatever the situation may be, there should be an adequate consequence to match the failure to control their behaviors.

                                  Once children learn that their behaviors have consequences, they learn to control their behaviors better. A child who wants to go to the movies after church, but knows that they must be quiet during church for them to be allowed to go out with their friends, will likely be quiet during church so that they can get the desired result (movie with friends after church). Providing consequences in advance (or the potential for rewards like the example above) can help to promote self control in your child.

                                  Help to motivate your child by providing both rewards and consequences as fitting for the situation. Again, remember that rewards are always more effective for long term positive results and can help to create genuine motivation toward good behavior.

                                  11. Be the Example

                                  To teach your child skills that embody good executive skill functioning, you must be the example. For example, if you want your child to follow rules, then you should also follow the rules set forth for you (i.e. the laws). If you are a habitual speeder and you say things like “those speed limits are only suggestions,” you are essentially telling your child that rules and laws don’t matter. If you want children who follow rules, order, and the laws of society, then you must be a good example.

                                  If you want your child to not be late for school, then you should set the example for morning routines and leaving early to get to your destination. Your habits such as organizational skills, time management, following rules, planning skills, and completing tasks are being observed by your children on a daily basis. They learn just as much, if not more, through your actions than your words. “Actions speak louder than words” is a motto to live by.

                                  12. Teach Self-Evaluation Through Questions

                                  The ability to assess one’s own abilities and achievements (or lack thereof) is an executive functioning skill. If someone is weak at this skill, then they will be shocked when they fail at something.

                                  Help your child prepare for success and failure. If they fail at something, then ask them “what do you think you could do different next time?” If they can recognize areas that need to be improved, then their perception of the situation and the reality can become more closely aligned.

                                  If you tell your child “you deserved to win” every time that they lose, they are going to start believing you and they will see no wrong in themselves. You teach them to evaluate themselves by asking them questions.

                                  Below are some additional questions you can use with your children. Be sure to use a kind and inviting tone. If you sound sarcastic or harsh, your child is going to shut down to your questioning and it will not be productive. If you want a meaningful conversations, then use a tone that shows you care for them and are genuinely interested in their situation:

                                  • How do you think it went?
                                  • What could you do differently next time?
                                  • What is one thing that you could improve on before next time (next game, meet, test, etc.)?
                                  • What did you learn from your disappointment today (or loss or whatever happened)?
                                  • How are you feeling about your disappointment?
                                  • What did you learn from this experience?
                                  • What is something positive you can take away from the experience?
                                  • What do you think it will take for you to win next time (or pass the test or whatever the situation may be)?
                                  • What kind of plan do you need in place to take you to that next win?

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  Executive functioning skills are essential to human function. The weaker the executive functioning skills, the less successful a person is likely to become in life in all areas (except maybe sleep). Although routine and time management help with sleep too!

                                  Executive functioning skills are learned primarily in the home though a primary caregiver (usually the parent). How a child is raised (and treated), their home environment, and the behaviors (and example) of their primary caregiver play a huge role in developing executive functioning skills.

                                  Even if a child doesn’t develop them early in life, all hope is not lost. These skills can still be developed in late childhood and even into adulthood. Just do the best that you can do as a parent for your child now.

                                  More Parenting Skills

                                  Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

                                  [1] The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University: Executive Function & Self-Regulation
                                  [2] Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child: Executive Function Activities for 3- to 5-year-olds

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