Parenting a Child Who Struggles with Executive Functioning


Is your child struggling with executive functioning? What the heck is that anyway? Well, let's
talk about that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and
family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier lives.
I lead two organizations, Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
on to Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My daughter
is in fourth grade and she's having a lot of trouble getting her homework done. It takes her a
long time. I try to help her and we both get really frustrated. She also has trouble organizing
herself in general. It even takes her forever just to get ready for bed. I've heard about kids
this age having trouble with so -called executive functions, which sounded funny to me before
I knew what it meant. How do I help her with this? Well, thank

you for your question. Again, a really common topic for a lot of parents. Here's the first and
the most important thing I can advise you. If you just have one thing, let me put that text away
there. I got a text right in the middle of tips on teens. Prioritize your relationship and connection
over results. This is not an easy thing to do. Because it's tough because you there's so much
of us as parents, we're managing our kids and hurting our kids. And we're trying to stick to schedules.
And it's tough, and you're not going to do it perfectly. And they're not going to do it perfectly.
And I think there needs to be an acceptance that there's going to be imperfection in all this.
And I know some of you may be thinking, but there's got to be some progress movement. And I get
it. There's a lot going on here with this kid, but what I encourage you is find ways to connect
because the more connection and energy there is that is shared between the two of you, the more
likely it is that your daughter

will be able to cooperate with you in your expectations of her. So other things to consider,
does she have any learning challenges that needs to be assessed? Now you can go to an educational
therapist or a psychologist, they can do a battery of tests and determine if there are any learning
challenges that need to be assessed through educational therapy, occupational therapy,
whatever that is. For some kids, it's also going to a psychiatrist and receiving prescribed
medication. I don't know what's going to be the best fit for your kid. Other things to consider,
and you may want to consult with medical professionals on this, but what she's eating, is it
interfering? Anecdotally, I've worked with a lot of clients who found when they cut out this
certain food or that certain food, or they increase this certain supplement, things shifted.
Maybe not perfect, but there was movement. And I encourage you to look into that and find what
would work best for your child. Also sleep, is your kid getting

enough sleep? It's really important. Your fourth grader, I'm guessing she's 10 years old,
should be getting at least nine hours of sleep a night. I know that's not always possible, but
at least nine, if not 10 hours of sleep a night, it's really important. Exercise is really important.
How can you reduce some of her screen time? Heavy duty screen use can look like ADHD. It stimulates
the brain in ways, it increases irritability and impulsiveness. And it's really important
to really keep that in check. With that being said, here are some things as a therapist I think
might help your daughter. You may want to consider body doubling. What that means is when she's
doing her homework at the kitchen table, maybe not in her desk in a room, but at the kitchen table,
you're sitting next to her doing emails. You're not doing anything distracting. You're just
there to be with her. She's not gonna do it perfectly. It's not about her being perfect. It's
just about her doing a little bit better. Same

thing with brushing your teeth. Allow brushing your teeth to be a great time to connect. Will
you guys brush your teeth together and laugh and be goofy and silly? And she may remember that
her whole life. Thanksgiving, 30 years now, You'll be talking and she'll say, I remember brushing
my teeth with my dad or my mom and how much fun that was and how much that was so silly and that really
helped me. Connection, connection, connection. There's nothing more valuable than connection
between you and your daughter. The spelling test is not as important. And I know that's hard
to wrap your head around sometimes because you get so focused on results, results, results.
The connection will last a lifetime, it really will. Another thing, if she's really struggling
and you get her assessed you may need to get her an IEP or a 504 plan which is a government mandated
program which has a school have to accommodate maybe that's reducing her homework load or whatever
that is but you can figure that out with

the school. That's basically the in the small time we have those those the topics that I would
address. Connection again is the most important thing make you have that connection where
she feels enjoyed by you, she feels respected by you, she feels valued by you. Because if you
have that, you have a much better chance of influencing her decision making. That's our question
for today. Thank you so much for sending me your question. If you'd like me to answer your question
here on Tips on Teens, email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or you can direct message
us right here on Facebook or Instagram. We love your questions. My name is Kent Toussaint with
Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling, and I'll see you guys all next week. Bye -bye.


Parenting a child who struggles with executive functioning can be overwhelming. However, the key advice is simple yet powerful: prioritize your relationship and connection with your child above all else. Research shows that the strongest predictor of a child’s long-term success is the quality of their relationship with their parents. While assessments and interventions are important, focusing on maintaining a strong bond with your child is paramount. Additionally, factors like a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise play crucial roles in supporting your child’s cognitive functions. By emphasizing connection and holistic well-being, you can create a supportive environment where your child can thrive.

Every case is a little different, and we get into it in this Tips on Teens:

“My daughter is in fourth grade and she’s having a lot of trouble getting her homework done. It takes her a long time. I try to help her and we both get really frustrated. She also has trouble organizing herself in general. It even takes her forever just to get ready for bed. I’ve heard about kids this age having trouble with so-called ‘executive functions,’ which sounded funny to me before I knew what it meant. How do I help her out with this?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.