Helping Kids Develop Course Correction Skills

How to support your child in the face of setbacks

Helping Kids Develop Course Correction Skills

This blog is one of the topics covered in our Fall 2020 Executive Functioning Webinar Series. To watch this and related webinars, click here

In a perfect world, our children would utilize a daily planner and complete all expected tasks before bedtime. However, this occurs quite seldom, leaving kids and parents often feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and ineffective. It is quite difficult to create and maintain a daily calendar while being unsure of how long the task may take. This is where course correction comes into play. 

Consider a home renovation project like having a bathroom redone: the construction workers come to your house, examine the project and then present an estimate on cost and time. The vision of the new bathroom is broken down into each chunk: ordering and arrival of material, number of employees needed, and most importantly, the time that each bit will take.

But, what happens when the material doesn’t arrive on time or an employee calls out sick? What if time goes by too quickly, and the job is not moving as quickly as expected? With course correction, the construction workers reevaluate and adapt. This is what we should be encouraging our kids to do with their schedules and academics. 

Students need to accurately assess the appropriate amount of time they spend on daily activities like self-care, sleep, school and homework, extracurriculars, and household duties. Flexibility in accommodating inevitable changes or setbacks is crucial. But how can you encourage this kind of adaptation in your own child? Consider the following steps:

  1. Ask your child to track their time: Create a two-sided chart. One side should be filled with home and academic expectations for all days of the week: what actually needs to be done along with how long your child expects the task to take. Use the other side to record how long each task actually took.
  2. Create goals: After reviewing this chart, help your child make goals for how long they feel they should spend on each task. Creating goals increases levels of motivation and investment.
  3. Once goals are created, use a timer for daily activities: If your child feels they need more time after they are alerted to complete, set another timer for a few extra minutes, and then transition to the next task.
  4. Incorporate the strategic placement of clocks: Visual reminders help kids keep track of how much time has passed while completing important tasks.
  5. Encourage self-reflection: When your child’s day or week does not go as planned, have a conversation with them. Questions to ask include: What got you off track? Were you distracted? What could we do next time to stay on track? This helps with metacognition, where kids can build upon self-awareness and analyze their learning process.
  6. Stay calm and supportive: When you or your child become overwhelmed as time runs out or goes too quickly, acknowledge and validate the feeling, before adapting and transitioning. Stress is normal and can be worked through as part of developing a strong course correction mentality. 

If you find yourself or your child struggling with support of time management and course correction after practicing these steps, contact us and one of our executive functioning coaches can help.

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