When accomplishing simple tasks becomes an emotional battle

March 19, 2021 • by Riley Thomas
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As local schools are reopening for in-person learning, you may begin to notice your child struggling to stick to the new schedule, with tantrums and distractions galore. If following a series of instructions to get ready in the morning (brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, put on shoes) seems to be too difficult for your child, or if teachers are reporting emotional outbursts and chronic time management struggles, your child may be struggling with their Executive Functioning skills.

Executive Functioning (EF) is the ability to carry out a goal-directed task while keeping emotions under control. Kids have brains with developing EF skills and have different types of goal-directed tasks, such as getting ready for school, making a simple meal, or doing harder things like math. Adults rely on executive functioning skills on a daily basis for activities like cooking, driving, prioritizing important tasks, or planning out their day.

So what does it look like when it’s not working right in a child?

  1. Highly distractible

  2. Impulsive

  3. Can’t remember what they were supposed to be doing

  4. Difficulty sequencing steps

  5. Abnormally frustrated with a challenge

  6. Can’t complete a task on their own

  7. Takes a long time to do simple things like getting dressed

Essentially, the child with EF deficits looks like they have no motivation. Even though the task seems simple to you, their brain can't process it properly.

When these struggles begin to impact the daily functioning of your child, yourself, or your family, it may be time to schedule an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist. In pediatric Occupational Therapy, your child will learn how to accomplish their everyday tasks, goals, and to-do lists without the explosive emotions or tantrums.

An Occupational Therapist can also recommend some activities for you to help your child regulate at home. Contact Play Works to schedule an initial evaluation and allow our team to help answer all your hardest questions!

When these struggles begin to impact the daily functioning of your child, yourself, or your family, it may be time to schedule an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist. In pediatric Occupational Therapy, your child will learn how to accomplish their everyday tasks, goals, and to-do lists without the explosive emotions or tantrums.

Riley Thomas
Written by Riley Thomas, MS, OTR/L

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