Life skills: preparing adolescents for adulthood Lesson Two – Executive Functioning Skills

Wait. What? Executive Functioning Skills? That sounds like some crazy title for an advanced collegiate research paper. But, in reality, it only means being able to plan, organize and execute various projects in a timely manner. Whew! See, it’s really not as scary as it sounds.

Adolescents need to learn how to get organized and plan ahead. Being able to find needed materials and map out future events will help teens be prepared for what’s to come in the future. Having some type of organizational skills will enable them to think through and efficiently execute various projects. Helping your child understand the importance of keeping an organized routine will no doubt prepare them for many future endeavors.

Having a lack of organization is undoubtedly one of the most common factors that lead to poor time management. People with poor time management skills always tend to be ‘searching for something’ or running around like the infamous ‘chicken with its head cut off’. To help your teen stay better organized, teach them how to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. Give them organization tools or systems to arrange things like, clothes, books and other random items.

Even though many youths in this age group tends to be quite inconsistent in their thinking and planning abilities (which is the norm – don’t worry), they need to learn how to be good time managers and have well-structured plans. They must learn how to implement and complete a project while making informed decisions. As difficult as it can be at times, adolescents need to be able to concentrate and self-monitor their own actions.

Most of us complain about not having enough time to do the things we want to do. Truth is – we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us to manage those hours efficiently so that we can achieve as many of our goals as possible. Importantly, parents should model good time management habits for their children.

Practice things like being on time to engagements or work, and respond to phone calls, emails, texts and written correspondence in a timely manner. Create a schedule using a planner that can assist kids with prioritizing their tasks and using their time responsibly. Teach them how to differentiate between important tasks and those that are less urgent. Never nag or bribe a teen about setting goals, making plans or completing tasks. You will likely only end up going around in circles.

Future employers look for people with good time management, planning and organizational skills. Help your adolescent understand the importance of mastering these traits. For even the most unorganized teenagers, it is possible to fine-tune those executive functioning skills. It will probably just take a little (or perhaps a lot of) extra patience and practice.

Life skills: preparing adolescents for adulthood is part of a 10-week series that will run in the Caloosa Belle.

Amanda can be reached at

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