Executive Functioning Skills Course

free executive function course

Free Executive Functioning Course

Wondering about what are executive functioning skills? Today, I’m very excited to share a mini course that I’ve been working on behind the scenes. This Free Executive Functioning Skills Course is a FREE, 5-day email course that will help you understand executive functioning and all that is included in the set of mental skills.

Executive functioning skills course for understanding executive function skills in kids.

So often, therapists are asked to explain executive functioning. Parents are looking for insight and how to help kids who struggle with the underlying areas that play a part in attention, organization, working memory, impulse control, and the other executive functioning skills. Teachers are looking for strategies to use in the classroom while understanding exactly what makes up executive functioning and how to help disorganized kids in the classroom.

Does any of these scenarios sound familiar?


This free executive functioning skills course will cover all of the above and describe strategies to help.

Executive functioning skills are a set of mental skills that work together in learning, safety, and functioning through self-regulation, self control and organized thoughts.

Executive Functioning Skills Course

If you have ever wondered how to help kids who struggle with:


  • Disorganization leading to impulsive actions and inattention in the classroom
  • The child that struggles to plan ahead and be prepared for the day
  • The child that lacks insight to cross a busy street without looking both ways
  • The student that loses their homework and important papers every day
  • The kiddo that just can’t get simple tasks done like cleaning up toys on the playroom floor
  • The child that focuses on other kids rather than a classroom assignment and then doesn’t finish in a given time
  • The kiddo that is constantly late because he can’t prioritize morning tasks like brushing teeth, eating breakfast, and getting dressed.
Do any of THESE scenarios sound familiar?
Easy strategies to help with executive functioning in kids in this free executive functioning course

So often, we KNOW kids are struggling with mental tasks that limit their functioning, safety, and learning. Here’s the thing: executive functioning skills develop over time. Kids aren’t instinctively able to organize, plan, prioritize, or use self-control. These skills occur with age, time, and use.
But, for the child that struggles in any one area, so many tasks that require executive functioning skills suffer. As a result, we see problems with social-emotional skills, self-consciousness, frustration, anxiety, or more!
Executive functioning skills course for understanding executive function and strategies to help

Information on Executive Functioning Skills, right in your inbox!

So, if you are wondering about executive functioning skills…or want to know more about how executive functioning skills work together in learning and everyday activities…join us in the free 5-day executive functioning skills email course!
Understand executive functioning skills with this free executive functioning skills course.

A little more information on the executive functioning skills email course:

  1. This course is entirely email-based. All you have to do is open your email and read!
  2. You’ll discover the “why” behind executive functioning, what to do about impulsivity, tips and tools, and loads of resources related to executive functioning skills.
  3. We’ll cover impulse control, including how we use all of the executive functioning skills along with self-control and self-regulation strategies to “get stuff done”.
  4. This email course doesn’t have homework or tests. This mini-course is informative and low-key.
Take this free executive functioning skills course to understand self-control, attention, working memory, and more.
Enter your email in the form below to confirm your subscription to the email course and you’ll be on your way.
Disclaimer: This email mini-course does not provide continuing education units or professional development units. The course is not intended to treat or evaluate any executive functioning or impulse control needs. This mini-course is intended for information purposes only. The reader is responsible for any action or consequence as a result of strategies listed in the email mini-course or on this website. The OT Toolbox and it’s author are not responsible for any results of actions taken as a result of reading this website or it’s email or social media outlets.
Know someone who would be interested in this free executive functioning skills course? Share the images below and let them know!

Executive Functioning Information

Free email course on executive functioning skills
Understand executive functioning skills with this free email course for parents, teachers, and therapists
Take this free executive functioning skills course to understand attention, self-control, and other executive function skills
Improve executive functions with easy strategies after understanding what's happening behind behaviors and actions.

What is Impulse Control?

what is impulse control

What is impulse control and what is normal development of impulsivity in child development?

Speaking out of turn. Pushing into a classmate in the bathroom line. Interrupting adult conversations. Grabbing a toy from a friend. Impulse control in kids can look like a lot of different things. But what is normal self-control in kids and what is considered impulsivity that interferes with social interactions and emotional wellness? Below we’re going to discuss what is impulse control and how to begin to work on impulsivity strategies so kids can succeed in learning and social situations. Helping kids learn impulse control can be tricky! It helps to understand what impulsivity looks like, what is normal development, and other considerations.

You may want to check out this toolbox of tips on how to teach kids impulse control.

Helping kids with impulse control and self-control happens in normal child development. But when you think about what is impulse control and how to help kids with interactions, these impulsivity strategies can help!

What is impulse control?

The definition of Impulse control is as varied as we are as individuals. The thing is, we are all driven by different desires and internal ambitions. Impulse control generally refers to the ability to control oneself, especially one’s emotions and desires. The way these impulses present is expressed as actions, thoughts, behaviors and can occur in any situation but especially in difficult situations.

Here are easy ways to improve impulse control in kids.

Impulse control requires self-regulation, internal drive, coping strategies, and other internal skills in order to filter impulses as they present in various situations.

Impulse control disorder

In order to present with a diagnosis of an impulse control disorder, a set of specific symptoms and signs must be present. These specific symptoms vary depending on the individual and other factors such as developmental level, age, gender, internal drive, and other considerations. However, the signs and symptoms of impulse control disorder generally include different behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms. The specific diagnosing factors are not going to be discussed in this particular post but it is worth mentioning that these can present in many different ways. For example, some kids may have aggression, lying, stealing, risky behaviors, low self-esteem, irritability, impatience, and other presenting factors.

For more information on impulse control disorder and if you think this is a concern that should be addressed in an individual, please reach out to a physician.

Impulsivity definition

Medically speaking, the definition of impulsivity refers to an inclination to act on an impulse rather than a thought. Those of us who are generally impulsive in most situations, have difficulty curbing their immediate reactions or think before they act. This can look like the child that speaks without raising his hand in the classroom. It can be a hasty decision. It can be inappropriate comments.

Impulse control development

The thing is, impulse control is a HARD skill to refine. All of us have trouble with impulse control at one time or another! Think about that last time you received an unexpected bill. Maybe you grabbed a cookie or six to calm your nerves. What about when you ran over a pot hole and ended up with a flat tire on the freeway. Did an expletive escape your lips? Impulse control is hard when our minds and body’s are dealing with difficult situations.

The thing is, that we learn to deal with the everyday stuff without eating dozens of cookies or yelling obscenities at our car radio. We filter information, adjust to situations, and make behavioral, mental, and psychosocial responses accordingly.

How does development of impulse control happen?

Impulse control skills reside in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain doesn’t fuly develop until we are in our twenties. It’s easy to see why impulsivity is such a common theme up through early adulthood!

Additionally, sensory modulation, emotions, outside situations, difficult environments, illness, stress, anxiety, and so many other issues can compound impulsive acts.

In fact, impulse control doesn’t begin to develop until around age 3.5- 4. 

We will be covering development of impulse control more thoroughly in an upcoming blog post.

What does impulse control look like?

We’ve talked about how impulse control looks so different for different people. We’ve covered the fact that different situations can bring about different impulsive responses.

The thing is, impulse control is so varied!

Here are some examples of impulse control in kids:

  • Keeping negative thoughts to oneself
  • Not saying exactly what one is thinking about in the moment
  • Controlling anger and using a coping strategy instead of physically acting out
  • Raising a hand instead of speaking out in the classroom
  • Standing in a line without pushing or shoving
  • Asking to join a friend’s game or activity instead of jumping right in
  • Asking to look at or share a toy instead of just taking it
  • Being patient when having to wait
  • Waiting for instructions on an assignment before starting right away
  • Resisting distractions in the classroom or while doing homework
  • Waiting until dessert to eat a sweet or special treat
  • Not giving up when things are hard

And these are just SOME examples!

Don’t forget to join us in this FREE email course on executive functioning skills and impulse control.

Stay tuned for more information on impulse control coming very soon. We’ve got some great resources and tools to share with you!

More impulse control activities and ideas you will love:

 How to Teach Kids Impulse Control

What is Modulation?

Easy Ways to Improve Impulse Control

Free Executive Functioning Skills Mini Course

Wondering what impulse control means and what impulsivity looks like in kids? Kids develop impulse control over time, but there are ways to help kids with impulse control!

Self-Reflection Activities for Kids

Self-reflection is a tool that kids and adults can benefit from. Reflecting on one’s actions and behaviors is a great way to grow as an individual and to meet personal goals. Think about a time you’ve set a personal goal. Maybe you wanted to start exercising and lose a few pounds. By self-reflecting on a day’s events, you can determine what worked in meeting your goal and what didn’t work. You can intentionally put a finger on the parts of your day that helped you meet your goal of going to the gym and what stood in the way of eating healthy meals. Self-reflection is essential for goal-setting! Most of these occupational therapy activities are free or inexpensive ways to address self-reflection in kids.

Use these self-reflection activities for kids to help kids reflect on behaviors and identify coping skills or self-regulation strategies that work in the home or classroom.

These self-reflection activities can be a vehicle for helping kids to address areas of functioning in several areas. Improving self-reflection can help kids with self-regulation, knowing what coping strategies to pull out of their toolbox, how to act with impulse control, how to better pay attention, how to improve executive functioning skills, and how to function more easily.

Additionally, self-reflection pays a part in mindfulness. If we are practicing attentiveness in the moment and attending to internal and external experiences, we can self-reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and how to make things work better next time.

Self-reflection can be so helpful in social-emotional skills, academic learning, functional task completion, organization, and well-being!

Self-Reflection Activities for Kids

One of the first steps in raising self-reflection to to help kids be more self-aware. They can use tools to improve mindfulness to notice how they feel, how the react, or how they behave. Most kids will struggle with this ability in the moment (It’s tough for adults, too!) but they can identify what worked and what didn’t work in a particular situation through conversation.

  • Using self-control strategies like the Zones of Regulation can be helpful in talking about feelings and self-awareness.
  • Explore along with the child. When a child is playing or exploring their environment, it can be helpful to play right along with them. Use play experiences to communicate through play.
  • Use play experiences to mirror actions. When a child is playing, play right along with them! Mimic their actions and words to be more aware as a caregiver of the details of a child’s interactions and to bring awareness for the child. Use this tactic only when the child is in a positive mood. Mirrored actions should not be completed when a child is behaving poorly or to bring attention to behaviors.
  • Reflect on the day as a family. Plan a family meeting and talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the day. It’s a good way to talk about ways to work on areas of need.
  • Create a Choice Collection. Come up with options that include coping strategies or tools to use in different environments. These could be part of a sensory diet or self-regulation strategies.
  • Use a journal to self-reflect through words or drawings.
  • Act out situations and how the situation played out. Consider adding dolls or toys for characters in the situations.
  • Model appropriate behaviors and self-reflection through conversation.

When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Use these self-reflection activities for kids to help kids reflect on behaviors and identify coping skills or self-regulation strategies that work in the home or classroom.

What self-reflection strategies do you use?

Executive functioning skills for kids Teach kids positive self talk with these bracelets for helping with attention, self-confidence, self-esteem, and executive functioning skills. Impulse control strategies for helping kids learn impulse control.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

Self monitoring and self regulation skills for kids

One of the big executive functioning skills is the ability to self-monitor oneself. Self-monitoring plays into one’s ability to notice what is happening in the world around us and what is happening in our own body. The ability to “check” oneself and monitor actions, behaviors, and thoughts as they happen play into our ability to problem solve. Use the tips below to help kids learn how to self-monitor and problem solve. These self-monitoring strategies for kids are applicable in the classroom, home, sports field, or in social situations.

As a related resources, try these self-reflection activities for kids

Use these self-monitoring strategies for kids to teach kids how to self-monitor their actions and behaviors for better learning, attention, and functional independence.

Related read: Here are more executive functioning resources to fill your therapy toolbox!

Self-monitoring is a process of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to plan for and
execute a task, monitor one’s
actions, analyze a problem,
apply a strategy, maintain attention, and evaluate or
monitor completion of an activity. Ideally, metacognition should occur naturally and instinctively as we engage in an activity.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids

In talking about self-monitoring skills, let’s first discuss what exactly self-monitoring is and what it means for kids to self-monitor their actions, thoughts, and behaviors.

What is self-monitoring?

The ability to self-monitor is made up of two main areas:

1.) Observation- In this stage, a child is able to identify a specific behavior, thought, or action that occurred. This might happen during the action or afterwords. In a child who struggles with talking out in class, they may catch themselves as they are interrupting. Another child may realize they spoke out of turn only after the teacher mentions the interruption. In both cases, the child is able to identify what behavior has occurred through self-assessment. This level of self-monitoring is a real struggle for some students and working on the ability to notice the behaviors or actions that are inefficient or inappropriate for the situation. This stage requires a lot of reflection and the ability to recognize an ideal response or appropriate behavior for a specific situation.

Observation, or self-assessment may require work in order for the child to understand targeted behaviors.
Some supports for self-assessment can include:
Lists of appropriate actions or behaviors
Visual cues
Verbal cues
Reminder notes
Goal setting
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Role-playing practice
Modeling from peers

The goal of this stage is to get students to move from a teacher/parent/therapist/adult support of self-assessment to a self-assessment status where the child identifies behaviors and actions that are off-target.

2.) Recording- This stage of self-monitoring is a means for moving from an awareness of actions and behaviors to function. In the recording stage of self-monitoring, children are able to note their actions and make changes based on what happened in specific situations. Jotting down deviences of targeted behavior can help kids to become more aware of what happened in a specific situation and how they can make adjustments in the future to avoid specific behaviors, or how they can use accommodations and self-regulation tools to respond and react more appropriately.

Recording or measurement of actions can occur through several methods:
Parent/Teacher/Student communication sheets (where the child inputs behaviors throughout the day)
Journaling in a notebook or a tool such as the Impulse Control Journal
Data collection sheets
Frequency collection forms

A child’s ability to stay organized can make a big impact on self-monitoring. Use the organization activities and strategies identified here.

Self-Monitoring in Kids Improve Many Areas:

When children self-monitor their actions and thoughts, so many areas are developed and progressed:
Problem-solving abilities

You can see how each of the executive functioning skills play into the ability to self-monitor and how self-monitoring skills play into the development and use of each of the other executive functioning skills.

Teach Self-Monitoring Strategies to Improve Function

There are also functional skills that are developed and improved through self-monitoring:
Task initiation
Task completion
Social-emotional interaction
Follow-through on learned skills

Self-Monitoring Strategies

Below, you will find additional self-monitoring strategies that can help children with the ability to identify and self- assess and self-adjust behaviors that may occur within the classroom, home, or other environment. These strategies should be viewed as supports that can be used independently by the child following instruction and input to teach strategy methods.

  • Make an outline for writing tasks, homework assignments, or multi-step assignments in order to keep the child on task.
  • Utilize a self-monitoring schedule- Ask the child to stop and self-check their actions, behaviors, or thoughts to make sure they are on-task.
  • Try an index card or other visual reminder on desks for a list of appropriate behaviors.
  • Use social stories to teach appropriate actions and reactions to specific situations in the home or classroom.
  • Incorporate a schedule of self-regulation strategies to address sensory, attention, and focusing needs. A sensory diet can help with this.
  • Teach the child to check and recheck- Teach children to stop and check and then re-check their behaviors.
  • Teach the child self-talk strategies.
  • Teach students to look at their finished assignment from their teacher’s eyes. This can help them have an outside view of completed work or actions in the classroom and adjust as appropriate.
  • Sensory or coping strategies scheduled throughout the day for sensory input or movement breaks.
  • Use a timer for scheduled self-assessment and self-reflection of behaviors or actions and recording of data.
  • Work toward fading self-monitoring visual and physical cues as well as data collection means.
  • Teach the child to journal experiences. The Impulse Control Journal can be a helpful tool for children who are able to write or dictate to an adult.
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Want to access this article as a printable PDF? Use the printable version in education to parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals. Simply print off the printable version and add it to your therapy toolbox.

Note: In order to access this file, you will need to enter your email address. This allows us to send the PDF directly to your email. You will then be added to our subscriber list which receives weekly updates regarding tools for development, new article posts, resources, and more. As a subscriber, you also receive access to The OT Toolbox free printable library. You may unsubscribe from our newsletter subscriber list at any time. Get the printable version of this article on Self-Monitoring Strategies for Kids HERE:

This is a 5 page printable self-monitoring strategy outline for educating those who work with kids with self-monitoring skills in kids.
Free self-monitoring strategy guide for kids

When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

References on self-monitoring:

Cook, Kathleen B., “Self-Monitoring Strategies for Improving Classroom Engagement of Secondary Students” (2014). Georgia
Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference. 65.

How To: Teach Students to Change Behaviors Through Self-Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2018, from http://www.interventioncentral.org/node/961544

Menzies, H. M., Lane, K. L., & Lee, J. M. (winter, 2009). Self-Monitoring Strategies for Use in the Classroom: A Promising Practice to Support Productive Behavior for Students With Emotional or Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior, 27-35. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.wisconsinpbisnetwork.org/assets/files/flash/ClassroomManagement/ConsequenceSystems/story_content/external_files/SelfMonitoring.pdf.