You’ve probably said this to your kid (or significant other) many a times, but did you know that these statements and questions engage executive function?
Any goal-driven process or activity that requires conscious thought is utilizing some degree of executive function (a set of mental skills that allow us to appropriately interact with our environment). Look at it like your brain’s upper management or “the executives” in charge of our behavior and cognition as they help plan, organize, and manage many tasks in our everyday life.
I’ve attempted to read at least three different titles about kids and executive brain function. They all have very snappy claims, from “Skills Every Kid Must Learn” to “How to Raise Successful Kids” to “Understanding the Kid Brain”. Yes, these are total clickbait headlines.
Of course, as a parent, you want to be able to teach your kids the secrets to adulting early. But it’s not like you can just hack their brain function. Executive function skills include: Focus and self-control, communication, planning, self-regulation, self-direction and motivation, collaboration, problem-solving, adjusting to social situations, etc. A lot of these we didn’t actively learn until we had to take a study skills class.
Talking doesn’t start at the mouth. Before we can speak or give meaning to language, we must learn to move.
Movement is necessary to explore our surroundings and travel from point A to point B (even if it is just to the couch). Motor development relies on the teamwork of the tactile (touch), proprioceptive (body awareness), and vestibular (movement) systems to establish a physical awareness of self to feel safe and move without fear.
Research has shown that achieving motor milestones may also be closely linked to unlocking cognitive abilities, like speech and language.
We’re all familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Avengers, right? An ensemble of superheroes coming together to stop formidable foes who threaten our world. Well, our sensory systems operate in the same way.
Each sense has their own set of responsibilities but will team up with one another to understand what’s going on around us and how to appropriately respond. This collab is known as sensory integration.
Sensory integration (SI for short, also known as sensory processing) refers to the processing, integration, and organization of sensory information from our body and the environment. This process allows us to participate in day-to-day functions, from self-care to socializing.
The CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), with the guidance of the AAP (the American Academy of Pediatrics), recently changed the developmental milestone checklists. These lists guide pediatricians and pediatric professionals on what would be considered typical development. Although the guidelines needed a clearer and more concise update for parents, some professionals are not happy with the new facelift.