Executive Thinking Dysfunction





Executive Function Skills are Associated with Reding and Parent-Rated Child Function in Children Born Prematurely

Irene M. Loe, MD,* Eliana S. Lee, BS,* Beatriz Luna, PhD,# and Heidi M. Feldman, MD PhD*

“We found poorer Executive Functioning and group by task difficulty interactions in preterm children compared to full term children, indicating that preterm children may need additional support and perhaps different cognitive strategies as task demands increase.”


Some people describe executive function as “the CEO of the brain.”  These skills allow us to set goals, plan, and get things done. Teenagers that struggle with Executive Skills can have more difficulties during adolescence and puberty. Parents need to be aware that the neurological and emotional processes would be challenging at this time for your teenager. Improving communication will make a big difference and this is very unique to every teen. Your strategies must take into consideration the development of a teenager’s brain. Their minds are changing fast and your coping strategies should reflect this too.

There are three main areas of executive function in teenagers:

Cognitive flexibility (also called flexible thinking)
Working memory
Inhibitory control (which includes self-control)

Executive function is responsible for a number of skills, including:

Paying attention, focusing
Organizing, planning, and prioritizing
Starting tasks and staying focused and finishing them
Understanding different points of view
Emotional regulation
Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you are doing)
Working memory (Short term Memory)
Flexible thinking

These next tips and strategies may help during the teenage years:

Choose your battles: Is it really worth the argument?

Use natural consequences: if your teen gets caught doing something wrong like being to loud at the shops and security stops him/her and his/her friends and tells them to leave the shops then this is a natural consequence.

Require rewards for performance: Your teen needs to be drive somewhere, then their jobs need to be done.

Be flexible and make deals when needed: After a bad day at school allow your teen to take some personal time before they start homework and jobs.

Have a verification system to check up and keep accountable: Check in with teachers for accountability for work performance.

Ask questions and be interested in your teen’s world


If you have concerns that your child is having difficulty with their executive thinking, here are some questions you can ask your health professional:

Is there an assessment that can tell me what specific problems my teen struggles with the most?

Can you help make strategies for these specific problems?

Are there people that specialize in these problems or do most child health professionals now about this?

Be kind to yourself and try to not judge yourself or your situation.

Useful links

Mindfulness Meditation https://www.headspace.com/meditation/parents


‘The way I deal with my child’s ETD may look permissive to other’s but constantly yelling and shaming them in front of people to prove a point does nothing but hurt and damage self-esteem.’ 
Andrea, Miracle Mum

Need support? NurtureConnect allows you to connect with our NurtureProgram support team, or call our 24 hour NurtureLine 1300 622 243 or join our Facebook community.


Confirmation Content

Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].