surrogate executive functioning

The Parenting/Teaching Language

for Surrogate Executive Function Control

To encourage, support and improve children’s cognitive development.

This language is inspired by Adam Cox’s 8 Pillars described in his book, No Mind Left Behind.

Dr. Cox lists several basic skills of surrogate control for thoughtful adults to use in coaching for activating executive functioning: prompting, reminding, checklists, preparation, review, rehearsal, thinking out loud and prioritizing.

One of the memory tricks we are using is the metaphor of a rainbow, ROYGBIV+M (Maroon) and the play on words to help remember them. When rain (stress in your child) is supported with a spectrum of light (that is you and your surrogate executive functioning scripts:) a most cohesive, beautiful, multicolored rainbow forms across the sky and by the way “the sky has no limit.”

1. INITIATE RED –GET STARTED

2. ORGANIZE ORARRANGE ORGANIZE

3. REGULATE EMOTIONS YELLOW MELLOW to VOLCANO

4. AWARE OF SELF GREEN SEEN

5. BLOCK AND ATTEND BL-UE BLOCK

6. FLEXIBLE FLEXIBILITY IN(DIGO) THINKING

7. PLAN AHEAD PURPLE PLAN

8. WORKING MEMORY MAROONIKROWEMORY

Do your best to use ten words or less.

Be in close proximity when giving a directive.

Tell, rather than ask. Start small.

Say it, mean it, follow through and be consistent.

Be supportive, firm and kind

 

#1 INITIATE RED –GET STARTED

Make a plan.”

Let’s make a plan.” “Breathe out long then tell me your plan.”

Let’s get to work.”

Visualize – “Make a picture in your head”

Do you think _______________is getting in the way of starting __________________?”

Ask for help.”

Do as you were told…(now).”

What is it that you were told to do?”

Talk to yourself.”

Keep saying it in your head.”

Ok, stay focused.”

Prioritize.”

This is the priority right now.”

What do you have to do right now?”

Wait on that and focus on this.”

What is your goal?” Now work backwards from the goal, sequencing practical steps in reverse.

Set your timer.”

Create a pattern.” “Teeth, hair, shoes”

Let’s make a specific time to act” such as right after school.

 

#2 ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE OR-ARRANGE ORGANIZE

Follow the steps.”

Put it back where it belongs”

Now that you have cleaned up the clutter, breathe deep and feel the calm.”

Let’s break it down.”

Let’s put some structure around it.”

Compartmentalize:” basket of toiletries, bin of summer clothes, shelf of completed Lego structures, school work space with supplies, color coded school subject files with matching color notebooks.

Find a method.”

Have a method.”

Where does it go?”

Everything has a place.”

Put it back where you got it.”

Beginning, middle, end: Take one game out, play it, put it back.”

Where is your __________________________________?”

Your persistence at keeping this area orderly saves you lots of the time you used to spend searching for things.”


#3 REGULATE EMOTIONS YELLOW MELLOW to VOLCANO

Let’s take a goal-directed action.”

Let’s think about this.”

Let’s come up with a plan.”

That behavior is not going to work. What would work?

How could your respond that would make me be more likely to want to listen/help/give you?”

Rewind”

Breathe out long and say that again kindly.”

What the problem, what’s the plan?”

List three solutions, so that next time you know you have many choices.”

Wait. Please do not interrupt. I will listen to you fully without interruption when it is your turn.”

I am going to my feel better place and I will talk with you about this when we are both calm.”

Go to your feel better place and when you are calm I will talk further with you.”


#4 BE AWARE OF SELF GREEN HOW I AM SEEN

How do you think your friend/others see you?”

How are you different from others?”

What do you think?

What do you think my opinion on that is? ”What do you think I am going to say about that?”

What signal do you think your behavior sent to others?”

In that others see you differently than you see yourself how could you change your behavior?”

What messages are you sending others?”

“Is your TALK: kind, on topic, hurtful?

“Is your FACE: smiling, making eye contact, listening with your eyes and ears?

“Are you HANDS: touching self/other/belongings? Are you: scratching, picking, rubbing, chewing, pulling?

Adults like/appreciate manners.”

What do you think the other person thinks/feels/will act?”

When you do that, what usually happens next?”

How are they like you? What do you have in common?”

What do you know from last time this happened?”

What’s the best way for you to….”

Guess what great idea/thought/suggestion I have?”

Another way to look at that is?”


#5 THE LANGUAGE OF BLOCK AND ATTEND BL-UE

Say your child’s name, wait for eye contact then state (don’t ask) what you expect to happen in 10 words or less.

What’s the big picture?” “Summarize.” “What’s the main point?” “What’s the priority?” “Do this now.” “Do this first.” “Now” “This is important.” ‘Write this down.” “What I am going to say next is important.”

How else could you take that in? See, write, hear, touch, smell.”

Rewind.” “What was the right thing to say/do?”

Do as you were told and then I will answer/do that for you.”

Find something to do.”

Focus here. “ “No interrupting.” “Block.” (and/or give the non-verbal cue for block that looks like the universal sign for stop) “Block that out and focus here.”

Look at me, and listen”

Take a moment and say to yourself, I just put my lunch in my backpack. It will help you remember where it is.”

We can do that when we finish this.” “Regroup”

On the way to ___________, we will be passing by the ice-cream store and Lego shop.”

How will you stay focused?”

Zoom out.” or “Zoom in.”

Let’s discuss your concerns/worries.”

Imagine/What would school be like if you were not so worried about ___________?”

Let’s write a story about this.” “Let’s draw pictures of the answers so you can remember them more easily.”

What questions do you need answered?”

Imagine you can see yourself paying attention in class.”

Notice when you are restless, tuning out, yawning.” Do your Brain Gym exercises.”

Let’s schedule breaks like doing your Brain Gym, carrying the heavy books to the nurse, or getting a drink.”

 

#6 FLEXIBILITY FLEXIBLE IN(DIGO) THINKING

CREATIVE THERAPIES juliatrebing.com (203) 324-5556

“Pace yourself.”

“Respond.”

“Go with the flow.”

“Look around, what is everyone else doing?” “Look to your environment for clues.”

“If you were a car, how fast do you think your engine is running right now?”

“Look around and adjust your tempo/engine to match the others.”

“Please slow down.” “Recess is over, please down shift.” “Shift gears.”

“Walk.” (Say what you want, rather than what you don’t want – “Run”)

“How do you think your tempo affects others?”

“What is another approach/option/idea/solution?”

“Set your timer.”

“Are you talking to fast or too slow?”

“Match the speed of my voice…..learning this will help you with friendships, too.”

“First we _________ then we ____________.”

“We will be switching/changing/transitioning to __________ in _______________ minutes.”

“Balance talking with listening.”

“Look at me.” “Eye contact.”

“Notice:” “Is your body language communicating impatience or boredom?”

“Listen to how frustrated/loud/angry/unkind you sound.”

“I’ll race you – you get ready before I get breakfast on the table. Ready. Go!”

“What is the right thing to do?”

“Take a break and we will come back to this is five minutes.”

NOTE: 2-point shifts: balancing personal interests with demands made by others.

3-point shifts: doing/thinking A, then B happens, then remembering to return to A.

 

#7 PLAN AHEAD/ENCOURAGE FORETHOUGHT-PURPLE PLAN

THIS IS THE ROCKET FUEL OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING

CREATIVE THERAPIES juliatrebing.com (203) 324-5556

“Say your plan/goal out loud.” “Tell me your plan.” “Let’s create an action plan.”

“See the outcome in your mind’s eye.”

“Before we start let’s think/talk/write it on the whiteboard.” “Be realistic.”

“Make a list.” “Narrow it down.”

“Put it on our calendar.”

“Get to the point.”

“What will it look like when it is finished?”

“What would happen if you do that?”

“Consider the consequences of your action/inaction.”

“How much time will that/you need?” “How long will that take?” “Be aware of the time you have left.” “Use your timer.”

“Let’s discuss how to make your plan attainable/get you what you want.”

“Set a reasonable goal.” “Work backwards from your goal to figure out what the practical steps will be.”

“It is critical to your success that you define a sequence of the steps.” “Break it down.” “Put your steps in order.”

“Let’s think through the series of parts.”

“Snack, homework, play.”

“Face, teeth, hair.”

“What is your priority?”

“First things first.”

“First, then, next, finally.”

“What could change/impact your plans?

 

#8 WORKING MEMORY MAROONIKROWEMORY

CREATIVE THERAPIES juliatrebing.com (203) 324-5556

Let’s break this down into memorable steps.” Can you think of a trick/acronym to help you remember that?”

Explain it to me.” “Demonstrate for me.”

Step one, step two, step three.”

I don’t remember, do you?” “How could we find out?”

Please get your shoes on in one minute or less, ready, go!”

This should take you as long as this two minute time, go.”

What did I say?” “Repeat that so I know you heard me.”

Tune in.”

If you can’t answer me/think of it right now, say, ‘Let me think about it’ so I know you heard me/then I’ll come back to you.”

Let me know you intend to respond by saying, let me think about that and get back to you”

What is your understanding of what I said?” “Use your own words.” “Rephrase.”

Preview, do, review.” “Recite, rehearse, repeat.”

Teach your pet, sibling or doll.”

Follow one child rather than the entire class.”

Look to your clipboard/checklist to see what the next step is.”

Sit up front to avoid distractions.”

Repeat that person’s name when they introduce themselves, it will help you remember it.”

Link it so/Associate it with something you know/have already learned.”

How is that similar to __________? Or how is it different from ____________?”

Use your notepad to write down notes during the conversation.”

Put the daily reminders on the family white board.”

Journal every day to review the day including your events, recall names and other details.”

 

BIRTHDAY AND HOLIDAY IDEAS

TO DEVELOP EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS

1 INITIATE RED –GET STARTED

Perfection – stay focused, set your timer, get to work

Rush Hour – make a plan, see the picture in your head

Iota or Dizios creating patterns

Lego

Tenzi go, be quick, process “ages 7-97”

 

2 ORGANIZE ORARRANGE ORGANIZE

Rush Hour – organize

Trucky 3 puzzle for 3-5 year old boys

Legos and the younger version Lego Duplo follow the steps

Hic-cups age 6 and up, follow patterns

Perplexus age 8 and up, find a method

Daisy Maxi – age 1+, organizing blocks by color

Hot Dots – patterns and sequencing

Categories – make sets and explain

Iota or Dizios – creating patterns

SET – finding patterns, how are they the same/different?

Zingo – word builder ages 4-8 and Zingo Sightwords pre-K – 1

 

3 REGULATE EMOTIONS YELLOW MELLOW to VOLCANO

American Girl Books 8+

Funny Faces age 4+

Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chomp managing set backs

Angry Monster Machine finding alternative coping skills (amazon)

My Turn, Your Turn CD songs for building social skills (rivannamusic.com)

 

4 SELF-AWARENESS GREEN SEEN

Storybooks used to predict what happens next

Headbands find humor, able to laugh at self

Kids on Stage charades game 3+

 

5 BLOCK AND ATTEND BL-UE BLOCK

Mazes, Cash Register, Math Flashcards, Puzzles,

Rainbow Loom and many other arts and crafts i.e. ALEX kits

Yamslam ages 8+

Perfection spatial relations race against a timer

 

6 BE FLEXIBLE FLEXIBILITY IN(DIGO) THINKING

Tell Me a Story, Story Cubes and Tell Tale – switch, change, go with the flow

Thomas and Brio Tracks – what is another idea/solution

FLUXX ever changing rules, ages 8+

 

7 PLAN AHEAD PURPLE PLAN

Khet – plan

Stratego – create a plan

Quick Chess or Chess Starter 6 – put your steps in order, plan ahead, what would happen

Crazy Forts – to plan, build and crawl into

Labyrinth – 7+

Battleship – plan ahead

Tell-A-Story – ages 4+

 

8 WORKING MEMORY MAROONIKROWEMORY

Rivers Roads and Rails – ever changing matching game boys 5+

I Never Forget a Face or Life on Earth

Pengoloo – remember what is where

 

For Work-Play michaelolaf.com; forsmallhands.com

For Developing Imagination with Quality, Heirloom, Natural Products: novanatural.com; magiccabin.com; hearthsong.com

And for Building Cooperation Rather Than Competition, especially between siblings: cooperativegames.com


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