Executive Functioning in the Summer

As another school year begins to wrap up, we must give recognition to the students, parents, educators, and administrators for doing their best to keep this unique school year running as seamless as possible. Now that summer break is seeping in, the promise of downtime, sunshine, vacations, and spending time with friends is amongst us – all of which is definitely well- deserved. There were many changes that disrupted routines in the world of academia this past year, and Positive Presence is extremely proud of our students and their peers for completing this unprecedented year with grace. The impact of COVID-19 contributed to many of our students struggling to maintain their momentum and focus like never before.

After speaking with hundreds of parents this last year, our team found that lack of motivation especially in school was one of the biggest concerns. In our experience this past year, every teenager has been grappling with two main fears: overwhelm and anxiousness about their future and feelings of isolation. These two fears combined with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic have created a massive decline in executive functioning amongst our youth.

But there’s hope… with guided lessons, a well-trusted accountability partner, and patience, these skills are easy to learn, simple to navigate and require a gentle tweak in everyday routines. Here at Positive Presence, our coaches are trained to support our students through mastering and applying executive functioning skills to overcome fears and areas of stress. But surprisingly most students and families don’t fully understand executive functioning and its importance? According to the Center of Developing Children at Harvard executive functions “are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” In other words they are skill sets such as time management, future-planning, goal-setting, self-discipline, and many others that set up humans (especially young humans) for success.

It’s a common misconception in today’s world that when school is removed or completed and our teens or young adults enter into the stressless summer months, that all pain points simply fade away. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Although they’re no longer faced with everyday stressors like teachers, homework and friend drama, those moments are very quickly replaced with all of the executive functioning habits and routines we spoke about earlier including daily positive routines, managing priorities and time commitments, staying on track with future short-term and long-term goals, implementing positive self-care. The importance of personal development never ends. At Positive Presence, we help our students understand how executive functioning applies to life beyond academia and its benefits in all areas of life.

Here are some ways to support your loved one in continuing to evolve and practice executive functioning this summer and beyond:

  1. Provide A Planner for the Summer
    Still utilize a planner during the summer time to maintain organization and time management. Even though the summer planner won’t be as filled as the school planner, it will still help maintain the habit of writing down what to expect and staying on top of your schedule. Your summer planner can include things such as obligations,
    appointments, vacations, events, chores and hangout times. Also, writing things down
    helps us remember them better. The less stress you have to deal with, the more time for
    relaxing this summer!
  2. Random Acts of Kindness
    Whether it’s giving a compliment, planning something your loved one enjoys, preparing their favorite meal, gifting them with something thoughtful, or just checking in to see how they’re doing, doing something nice for someone is always a great motivator. Of course we want our loved ones to be internally motivated to succeed, but any gesture to remind them of how proud you are and recognizing their hard work can continue to keep them motivated.
  3. Create To-Dos
    Although summer means taking a break, it is important to continue to create opportunities to feel accomplished.  These to-dos can be created by what best suits your family. Plus these to-dos can support your efforts in still utilizing the planner from option 1. Some examples of to-dos are:
    ● Delegating a certain day of the week for a certain chore (example: laundry on
    Tuesdays)
    ● Creating daily time blocks to journal, meditate, or practice affirmations
    ● Signing your loved one up for an activity they would enjoy
    ● Scheduling and creating a fun themed dinner with the family
    ● Creating daily reminders to get up and move and go outside
  4. Check-In with Your Loved One
    This is an option that parents tend to overlook. Just simply having a conversation with your loved one about how they’re doing can help them continue to succeed. It gives them an opportunity to reflect and say out loud if something is no longer working for them or if there is something they are looking forward to. I know it can be hard to get them to talk to you, but you can keep it brief while conveying that you’re interested and supportive.

    Some conversation starters you can use are:
    ● “How is your break so far?”
    ● “Is there anything you want to do this summer that you haven’t already?”
    ● “Do you and (insert friend’s name) have anything planned that you’re
    looking forward to?” (This can also be asked without a friend)
    ● “Do you feel you’re getting enough rest?”
    ● “Is there anything you need from me?”
    ● “Is there anything new you want to try this summer?”
    ● “Do you feel like we spend enough time together as a family?”

  5. Sign up for Life Coaching with Positive Presence Global
    Our coaching sessions are customized to your student and their personal development
    journey. Whether they want to begin planning for the upcoming school year, identify
    future-planning points, work through social anxiety, build their confidence and self-
    esteem, or just have someone they can relate to and grow with, their coach can support
    them 24/7. To learn more about the perfect coach for your loved one, schedule a call to
    learn more HERE.

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Jessica Waugh

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Bio:

Jessica has roughly 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, curating premier wine programs in Las Vegas and developing educational programs for the largest beverage distribution company in North America. In 2022, Jessica altered her focus and is now utilizing her educational, management, and organizational skills to positively impact others on a grander scale. She is now developing multiple modalities focused in emotional intelligence, executive functioning, meta-learning, and positive psychology for struggling teens and young adults.

Favorite Mindfulness Techniques:

Meditating with sound bowls!

A Fun Fact:

I was the architect for my grandmother’s house

State: Nevada
Email: Jessicaw@positivepresenceglobal.com

Positive Presence Corporate Team

Missy Vandenheuvel

Sales Manager

Bio:

Missy is a revitalized mother of two teenagers who understands the resilience it takes to raise children in the midst of a global pandemic. She is a passionate mentor because she recognizes there isn’t nearly enough support for the overwhelming number of people silently struggling. Her sincere and compassionate personality is what makes her thrive as a coach and a leading member of our company. As our Sales manager she recognized that her role is to listen and learn as much about your child (or yourself) as possible. While listening, I am identifying a mentor coach that I believe your child will not only like based on their personality, but also one who has experienced and overcome similar pain points, and areas of opportunity, optimizing relatability. Ultimately, setting your child up for growth and fulfillment socially, mentally, and physically. 

Favorite Mindfulness Techniques:

My Favorite Mindful technique is to Shifting Thought Patterns by focusing on the Grounding Technique. Starts with a big belly breath in. Then, you tap into your 5 senses, to quickly and effortlessly shift your current focus. Choose a sense- any sense, and count down from 5 (order or senses can be altered): 5 things you see, 4 things you smell, 3 things you feel, 2 things you hear, 1 thing you taste.

A Fun Fact:

 I travel to Florida from Wisconsin 3-4 times a year, and we plan to relocate somewhere with the state in 1.5 years. I’ve been dreaming about this since I first saw the ocean at the age of 14 years old. 

State: Wyoming
Email: Missy@positivepresenceglobal.com

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