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Executive functioning issues

Executive Functioning Issues: What You’re Seeing in Your Middle-Schooler

By Amanda Morin

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Many middle-schoolers procrastinate. But if your child struggles frequently with planning, prioritizing and emotional control, then you might be seeing signs of executive functioning issues. The following signs are typical of executive functioning issues, which often occur with ADHD.

205Found this helpful
Executive Functioning Issues: What You’re Seeing in Your Middle-Schooler

It’s common for tweens to struggle occasionally with school projects or get dramatic about little things. But if behaviors like these become the norm, it could be a sign of executive functioning issues.

Has a Hard Time Making Social Plans
At home: Your child wants to invite other kids over to hang out but never gets around to scheduling a visit.
At school: Your child seems reluctant to make afterschool plans. Instead he simply does whatever the other kids are doing.
The issue: Kids with executive functioning issues can have a difficult time with planning and prioritizing. They also tend to lose track of objects and information such as an invitation to a birthday party.

Avoids and Procrastinates
At home: Your child has a hard time getting started on a big assignment and often seems to focus on the less important details first.
At school: Your child is still arranging the materials for a science lab when the other kids are already halfway through the experiment.
The issue: Many kids with executive functioning issues often find it overwhelming to get started on something. This is because they have trouble breaking a task down into smaller steps.

Overreacts and Takes Things Personally
At home: Your child frequently gets upset about little things like running out of a favorite snack food. He may yell, “We never have anything good to eat in this house!”
At school: Your child often feels singled out and says it’s “not fair” that the teacher is making him take his work home to finish it, even though the other kids finished theirs in class.
The issue: Many kids with executive functioning issues struggle with emotional control. They can overreact to or have a tough time accepting constructive criticism.

Is Surprised by Failure
At home: Your child is crushed when he’s turned down for a date to a school dance, even though his text messages and emails were going unreturned.
At school: Your child is surprised by a bad grade on a science test he studied for even though he didn’t understand much of the unit being taught.
The issue:Kids with executive functioning issues can have trouble keeping track of their progress and evaluating how well (or poorly) they’re doing.
Graphic of Executive functioning issues: What you're seeing in your middle-schooler
Graphic of Executive functioning issues: What you're seeing in your middle-schooler

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin

A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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Reviewed by Laura Tagliareni, Ph.D. Feb 07, 2014 Feb 07, 2014

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