Although many functions of the brain develop naturally and gradually, some others require deeper stimulation so that they can impact the performance of more complex tasks. Some of these functions are known as executive functions and it is essential that they are worked on from the earliest years of childhood and are the main topic in the school for parents.

It is for this reason that, throughout this article in the category «School for parents» you will identify what executive functions are and how to develop them in childhood.

Executive Functions in Children: What are they?

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, executive functions are cognitive functions and capacities that seek to control and self-regulate the behavior of each individual. As these are complex mental functions, they begin to appear in childhood, but they require stimulating external factors that strengthen their impact on the daily life of individuals.

Executive functions are absolutely essential for fostering different types of intelligence in children, and over time, they will become their greatest strengths as well. These capacities will allow good decision-making, adaptation to the environment, preparation of plans, self-control and regulation. In addition, they are key to stimulating emotional intelligence.

These capacities are limited by the prefrontal area of ​​the brain and their maximum development occurs between 6 and 8 years of age.

7 Major Executive Functions in Children

  1. Work memory. This is also known as working memory. This is the capacity for temporary storage of information and its processing. Working memory will allow children to select, analyze and combine informationto arrive at a solution to a problem
  2. Cognitive flexibility. This ability allows you to acquire new perspectives and make changes on the way to solving specific problems. This involves learning to adapt to the environment and anticipate consequences
  3. Ability to control automatic stimuli and irrelevant information. It is related to concentration, managing distractions and emotional regulation.
  4. Decision making. It implies knowing how to choose between several options or alternatives. This taking into account own needs or stated objectives
  5. This executive function allows to maintain control and attention on the task that is being carried out. It is key to recognize faults and, thus, correct them in time
  6. Time estimate. It means learning to calculate the time to complete a task, an event or an activity
  7. Dual execution. Thanks to this and, after being correctly stimulated, the child will be able to perform two tasks at the same time. This without failing to give them attention and commitment.

Activities to Stimulate Said Functions

  • Alternate Writing. It consists of the dictation of words. Children will have to write them, alternating between upper and lower case. This will allow children to concentrate and develop, above all, inhibition
  • Roleplays. Character simulation and story creation are perfect for helping children interact with the environment. In addition, they will learn to resolve conflicts in safe and educational environments. Role plays encourage creative thinking
  • Table games. This type of game allows children to plan strategies and strengthen their memory and concentration. They will give you hours of fun and multiple benefits
  • Physical activities. Sports, playground games and other activities will promote decision-making and self-control in children. They are also essential for emotional control and empathy.


It is worth emphasizing that executive functions are also measurable and evaluable. To assess executive functions in children there are adequate instruments. Among them are: The Wisconsin Card Classification Test, ENFEN Path, COM-NAM Identification Test, INH-REST Equivalence Test, among others.

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