As the mother of a middle school boy, I often find myself doing a lot of nagging—reminding my son for the upteenth time that he needs to unload his lunch box first thing we he gets home from school and that he can’t have computer time until he’s done his morning chores. But it wasn’t until I read Executive Function & Child Development, by social workers Marcie and Daniel Yeager, that I saw my son’s behavior as possibly due to poor executive functioning rather than laziness or defiance.
Though the book is designed primarily for therapists, it’s also an informative read for parents and teachers who seek to better understand the kids in their care. The Yeagers use lots of examples from real-life children to illustrate how providing appropriate supports to kids and engaging them through play can help them mature and improve their executive functioning…without relying on punishments.
I, for one, plan to take their message to heart, first by reframing my concerns for my kids in a more positive light and second by thinking of ways to help them stay focused and less distracted. No one—including me—will miss the nagging.
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good‘s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.