Executive Function (EF) skills are skills necessary to help perform or accomplish tasks of daily living. These abilities are controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain, just behind the forehead. The frontal lobes are the last areas of the brain to fully develop. Executive function skills begin to develop in childhood and continue to mature into early adulthood.

Goal-driven persistence it is an executive function skill. It is the ability or drive to continue to achieve a goal and not be discouraged by other competing interests or demands. (Dawson, Peg and Richard Guare. Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention. 2nd. The Guilford Press, 2010. Print).

You may not realize that you’ve used goal-directed persistence many times. You used it when playing with toys (i.e. LEGOsĀ®), learning to make your bed, brushing your teeth, playing a sport, finishing a long-term project, etc. Remember when you were learning to tie your shoes? You wanted to tie your shoes by yourself. They were steps to learn. The steps had to be done in a certain order. He willingly practiced over and over again. You persisted until that special day when it all came together and you tied your shoes alone!

Even after having been able to tie their shoes for the first time on their own, from time to time frustration would take over if they didn’t always tie their shoes on the first try. Despite this frustration, he remained steadfast in the task that he completed. You can rely on your memory and talk to yourself to get through the shoe-tying process successfully.

When a teenager struggles with goal-directed perseverance, it is difficult for him to:

  • complete a task
  • finish a task
  • read a novel
  • start a task
  • stick with a boring task (for the teenager)
  • return to a task if they are interrupted (by themselves or by others)
  • delaying gratification (i.e. saving money for a certain period of time for something specific)

We can help our teens strengthen their goal-directed perseverance executive function skills by using the following strategy: TO PERSIST:

objective the Gol

Establish steps to the goal

Reward yourself as you go through the steps along the way

Calendar time to work on the steps toward the goal in the planner

Increase effort when a step is challenging

Look for help

You give! Objective reached!

Repeat the process or move on to the next challenge that needs to be addressed and help the ADHD teen in your life TO PERSIST.

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