Christine Kutzner M.Ed., RCC - Counselling Services

Parenting Matters Printable PDF version

Volume 16, September 2009

It’s a lovely Indian Summer, and I absolutely love watching my children’s soccer games in this weather!

September is like my New Year’s where I promise myself to be organized with sorting the kids clothing, using my day timer to write down all the school events at the start of the school year to avoid surprises and focus on making or baking healthy foods to go into the freezer instead of late night Safeway runs. So far so good!

I was happy to be asked to speak on CBC radio in early September on the Rick Cluff show. It was only six minutes of speaking, but I lay awake worrying about it for 3 hours that morning! I did employ deep breathing and positive thinking strategies to calm my nerves and would welcome another opportunity in the future!

For those of you whose children are now in the school system, this month’s article may stimulate you to look into Executive Functioning in more detail if you sense that your child struggles with time management.

Students And Time Management

Parents are you worried about your child handing in those projects on time? Does your child struggle with time management skills or completing simple tasks on time? If this is true of your child/teen, then attention may be at the root of this frustration. Attention operates in the Executive Functioning area of our brains.

There are six components to the executive function, working in a variety of combinations to help the student with learning. They are:

  1. Organizing, prioritizing, and activating to work.
  2. Focusing, sustaining, and shifting attention to task.
  3. Regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and processing speed.
  4. Managing frustration and modulating emotions.
  5. Utilizing working memory and accessing recall.
  6. Monitoring and self-regulating action.

It is evident from the list above how critical attention is to what we perceive, remember, think, feel and do. Students who show weaker focusing and time management skills, may legitimately have a weakness in one of the brain functions described above. Children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) do struggle with executive functioning types of processes, as do children with Aspberger’s Syndrome.

With young children, parents naturally tell our child what to do. As children mature and develop, parents expect them to be able to think and work more independently. Students with executive functioning deficits need external prompts and cues to stay on task to complete the task all the time. Parents need to resist getting too frustrated or blaming their child if he still requires a lot of coaching to complete a task even when he’s older. These children/youth need explicit teaching all time and someone to “walk them through” the tasks. Teaching time management skills can help, but don’t be surprised if the student can’t generalize these skills to every situation. Using a timer, or notes to cue what the child needs to do next, may help. Attention is critical to our overall learning, so if we as parents can help our child feel successful with adequate amounts of prompting it will go a long way in building confidence to learn more.

Christine Kutzner Counselling Services 604-339-5774

Christine Kutzner, M.Ed. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor providing services to children, parents and families in North and West Vancouver. To inquire, contact Christine.

Copyright Christine Kutzner, 2009. All rights reserved.


Christine provides counselling services to children, parents, and
families in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver.

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