Executive Functioning: Flexibility

Executive Functioning: Flexibility

If you have been following along with this Executive Functioning (EF) Series, you will have already been practicing the skill “Planning” with your child/students.  If you are new to our site, you can find our Planning Blog here.

In planning, we talk about how important it is to be able to have a systematic idea of how you are going to break down the task at hand.  This can range from something small like cooking dinner, to something much larger like planning a Family Reunion.  

While planning is a crucial skill for success, we have all had those days where we thought everything was planned out, down to the smallest detail, and nothing seems to go our way.  Maybe the casserole you had planned all week to make for dinner got burned in the oven and you can’t eat it.  Maybe the facility you booked for the Family Reunion had a mix up and double booked you and another family.  Life isn’t perfect and no matter how much we plan, something can (and often does) go wrong.  Today, we are going to talk about how to handle life’s hiccups.  

Flexibility, in terms of Executive Functioning, means to be able to deal with changes and accommodate for problems that come up. 

This is crucial.  Out of all ten of the EF skills, one could argue that this is the one that is the most necessary to get through life.  Things change, and if we cannot adapt to those changes, we cannot be successful. Here are some tips on dealing with change.

Handling Change

Acknowledge your feelings.

Even though we all have to deal with change, it is okay not to feel great about it. Those nerves, that fear, they’re normal. The first step in dealing with change is to recognize how you feel about it.

Figure out how this change could be a positive factor in your life.

If you can focus on the positive, then the change won’t seem so intimidating. For kids, this is something they might need you to help them wrap their mind around. It can be challenging to focus on the positive if you feel uprooted, so it is important that you help them learn to see things in a positive way early on.

Lean into the uncertainty.

We have all heard the saying “When one door closes, another door opens.” While this can sound cliche, use the change as an opportunity to grow and improve.

Use problem solving skills.

Casserole is burned? What else can you do for dinner? The ability to think on your feet will help you navigate the change. Practice this skill with your child. If they were really looking forward to going camping, but a surprise rainstorm rolled in, ask them to think of a new solution. Can they go next weekend? Can you have a camp-out in the living room? Give them the chance to think on their feet and find a solution to the problem. This will help them later on when problems come up that they need to solve immediately.

Flexibility doesn’t just allow you to deal with changes to your own planning. It can assist in changing your own ideas, possibly for the better.   It is important for people to listen and thoughtfully consider the perspectives of others.  Flexibility in thinking helps a person see how other people may be feeling in a certain situation, allowing them to consider points of view different than their own.

If you are finding that your child is having a hard time with flexibility, or any of the Executive Functioning Skills, call us at 303-309-9135 to set up a free consultation.