Executive function is what helps us all organize our thoughts and complete tasks. It affects our abilities to process information, demonstrate flexibility, and exhibit self control. (See this wonderful collection of explanations and graphics from Understood for a bit more info.)
In a neurotypical child, executive function grows and develops from early toddler years all the way through early adulthood, peaking around the mid-20’s. For children who have experienced trauma, i.e. neglect or abuse, executive function delays are not uncommon.
One way we can empower our children is to give them visual charts that help them when their executive function skills are still developing or have been stunted. This simple visual is something I came up with to help equip and empower my kids to clean up their rooms. I know it sounds crazy, but it took me a long time to realize that when I told my kids to “go clean your room,” I was telling them to do something that was nearly impossible for them to do. Walking into a bedroom with dirty laundry, clean clothes, toys, and books all over the floor proved to be too chaotic. Simply put, they didn’t know where to begin.
These charts made all the difference!
Not that my kids don’t sometimes resist my instructions to clean their rooms! But helping them to feel more equipped, and therefore more empowered, certainly helps.
Feel free to use mine—I’ve included links for printable PDFs here and here.
Or you can design your own using Canva.com!