Is My Child A Good Candidate?

Executive functions seem straightforward when defined, but understanding how weaknesses in EF translate into daily behaviors can be less clear.  Often, parents realize that they’re often frustrated with their teen for their approach to tasks and responsibilities, but aren’t sure why there are problems.  Weaknesses in day-to-day executive functioning skills may underlie many of these frustrations.   The items below present just a few examples of weaknesses in areas of executive function. Note that even though the examples below are categorized by an area of executive function, the majority of tasks utilize multiple EF skills simultaneously!  As you can imagine, this list is not exhaustive, but highlights some of the weaknesses targeted in thinkSMART®.


  • My child does not bring required materials home from school (e.g., books, papers) and/or forgets items needed for activities (e.g., sports equipment, packing items). 
  • My child does not/cannot use a planner or calendar


  • My child’s room/desk/backpack is typically a mess…and he/she cannot find needed items.
  • Despite finishing homework, my child often forgets to turn in completed homework on time.

Task Completion:

  • My child often has trouble staying focused and finishing an assignment.
  • My child is often excited to begin different projects, but lacks the endurance and interest to complete them.

Task initiation:

  • For many assignments, my child typically fails to plan ahead and waits until they become urgent and stressful.
  • My child requires multiple prompts to start homework, chores, and other non-preferred activities.

Time Management and Estimation:

  • In managing the competing demands in his/her life, my child does not prioritize well.
  • When given assignments, projects, etc. my child cannot accurately estimate the amount of time needed to complete that assignment.

Self-monitoring and self-awareness:

  • My child often doesn’t know when he/she is off track and fails to ask for help.
  • My child is often distracted and cannot bring him/herself back to task.

Emotional Control:

  • My child can become easily overwhelmed and over-reacts to small problems.
  • Particularly under stress, my child gets angry and oppositional.