What is Executive Functioning?

executive functionsIf you’ve looked into child development, you’ve probably come across the phrase “executive function.” When we think of an executive, we often picture a CEO or business leader who is taking charge. That’s similar to what it means in the child development world.

Executive functions are skills that helps us do pretty much everything. They help us turn big tasks into smaller, manageable pieces. They also help us organize, create strategies, hunt for details and learn from our mistakes. Ultimately, they are the skills that help us make decisions. Children with poorly developed executive functioning skills struggle with tasks like getting dressed, basic hygiene, completing homework assignments, etc.

These functions begin early on. You can see them develop in your child. When a baby learns that pushing a ball makes it roll across the room, he’ll want to do it repeatedly. He’s using an executive function (push to make ball move). He has become aware that he can visualize a behavior in his thoughts before acting out physically, which teaches him to plan and consider.

While executive skills are somewhat abstract (they’re harder to teach than, say, how to lift a bottle or how to open one’s mouth when food is incoming), they can still be taught. You just have to give your child lots of opportunities to practice and reward them when they used their skills well. Here are some ways you can help.

1. Create a planner

When your child gets to the age of having homework assignments, or you give them regular chores, a planner is a big help. Often just the act of writing down their assignments or making a note of something is enough to embed the tidbit in their mind.

2. Develop a reward system

Like many things, executive functions can be improved when they are rewarded. It’s hard to motive your child to practice a skill they don’t understand, so you have to create something external to give them when it seems like they carefully thought about an action before taking it. For example, if you notice your child examine the label on the outside of a box before placing her toy within, you can surmise that she considered whether the toy belongs there before putting it away. Reward with something small, but tangible, like a sticker.

3. Create checklists

Kids without developed executive functioning skills can be overwhelmed by large tasks with many steps. Orders like “Get ready for school” can be difficult and cause emotional stress. A checklist minimizes the tension by laying out the steps nicely so your child can focus on each one individually. Make a checklist for everyday tasks, like getting ready for bed or tidying up one’s room.

4. Establish (and stick to) a routine

By creating a routine, you take the decision making away and let them focus on the smaller executive functioning skills first. For example, your child might have trouble when you ask him to tidy up his room, but if you insist he steps 5 minutes every evening doing it, eventually the “pain” of the experience fades and he can focus on each task at hand. Rather than worrying about what to do next, he’ll know that now is the time to organize the books, or now we put the stuffed animals in the box.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

7 Ways to Deal with Picky Eaters

picky eatersPicky eaters… Every family has them. If you’ve got more than one child, chances are one of them is particular about the foods he or she eats. For whatever reason, some children just don’t want to be bothered with new tastes; they want to stick to the things they know and love. If you have a picky eater on your hands, it’s best to work to vary the child’s diet for their own health. Here are some ways you can deal with a picky eater.

1. Include your kids in cooking. Handling and cooking food can often “desensitize” your kids to trying new flavors. They become comfortable with the food and feel a sense of ownership over the meal they’ve created, which encourages them to try it. If your kids are old enough, you can do so far as to have them help you plan and shop for the food as well.

2. Mix healthy elements into their favorite foods. Use your kids’ favorite foods to transition to healthy ones. For example, if your son loves pancakes, add blueberries one time to see if he likes it. After a few attempts, you’ll have him eating blueberries on his own. You can also try carrot muffins, fruit in cereal, and smoothies with just about anything.

3. Keep the junk out of the house. It’s hard to combat all that junk food when it’s sitting right in front of you. Your best option is to keep it out of the house so no alternative is available. If your kids refuse to eat the delightful quiche you prepared, there isn’t a bag of cookies lying around for a late morning snack.

4. Repeat exposures. If you offer your child a new food and he doesn’t like it, don’t give up. Kids are naturally resistant to new flavors. Offer it a few more times (up to ten or fifteen!) on different days. Each time the flavor becomes more familiar and less offensive. You’ll be surprised what foods they eventually start to like.

5. Redefine dessert. By positioning dessert at the end of the meal, we tend to treat it like a reward. Plus, parents often give dessert or take it away depending on the child’s behavior, which makes kids want it even more. Redefine dessert as something healthy, like yogurt or fruit.

6.  Create routines and stick to them. Try to serve dinner and snacks at the same time every day. Stick to this schedule. If your child refuses to eat what you provide at this time, inform them that there’s nothing to eat until the next scheduled time. If kids know they only get food on the schedule, they’ll be more likely to eat what’s provided.

7. Offer treats in moderation. If you cut out all the fun foods entirely, your kids will crave it and binge when you aren’t available to monitor them. It’s alright to offer a cookie here and there, just keep it to a healthy level.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

6 Ways to Get Your Baby to be a Rock Star Sleeper

make baby a great sleeperTo us, sleeping is pretty easy. We lie down, turn off the lights, close our eyes, and fall asleep pretty quick. Our bodies and brains have been trained over years to fall asleep to those conditions. Babies, however, lack our experience. They don’t struggle to sleep well out of spite; they’re just bad at it. In fact, there’s an entire industry of professionals devoted to teaching children how to sleep.

During the first few months, your baby’s need to eat is more important, so he/she will not be able to sleep for long stretches of time. By five months, however, your child should be able to sleep for four or five hours at a time. Use these tips to make your child a great sleeper.

1. Create a soothing routine.

Just like grown-ups, babies sleep the best when their bodies are on a consistent schedule. By establishing a night-time bedtime routine that you follow every day, your little one will be conditioned to fall asleep. He/she will fall asleep easier, sleep longer, and cry out less often during the night.

You can establish a routine by only playing quiet games or activities as it nears bedtime. Give a warm bath, a gentle massage, and keep the lights dim. Try to keep all the bedroom conditions consistent so your baby isn’t afraid when he/she wakes up in the middle of the night.

2. Learn the tired signals.

Every baby is different, so your cues may vary, but after some time you should be able to determine when your child is getting sleepy. Don’t wait until he/she is over tired, fussy, and cranky. The goal is to put your child down before he/she is actually asleep so self-soothing and falling asleep alone is learned quickly. You don’t want to end up being your child’s security object.

3. Swaddle your baby.

The startle reflex is a basic survival skill that babies are born with. It makes them jerk spontaneously. This reflex can easily wake them up. You can provide security by swaddling them in a muslin sheet or shawl. For best results, use a specially made baby swaddle that zips up so your little one can’t wiggle free.

4. Set the room temperature just right.

The optimal temperature for sleeping baby is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is usually a little cooler than most people keep their homes. If you can’t adjust the thermostat in the baby’s room, leave the window slightly ajar. Be sure to position your crib away from the window.

5. Consult a sleep consultant.

When you want to do something right, it is always best to consult an expert. Sleep consultants train to help moms and dads put their child on a sleep schedule that works for the family. They know all the tricks and best practices to make sure your baby gets the best rest possible.

6. Create some white noise.

In the womb, your baby was exposed to sounds constantly.  Between the sounds of the outside world and the sounds inside a mother’s body, it’s actually quite loud in there. This means your child learned how to sleep amidst all types of noise, so when you lay them in a silent room, they become uncomfortable. You can pick up a white noise machine to create the right ambiance or use a simple house fan.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are a patented footed pajama for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Photo Credit: Jan de Graaf via Compfight cc