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  • Dayna Sharp, LCSW

Flexible Thinking in Kids

Does your child experience difficulty with transitions, for example going from waking up to going to school, or from going to school back home?


Does your child struggle with unexpected changes, for example a cancellation of a playdate, or even walking a different way?


Is your child sometimes resistant to learn new ways of doing something? Maybe they think "I already know how to do this?" and shut down, or maybe they avoid learning new things altogether?


Does your child have frequent meltdowns?


 

These are all struggles kids face when they have trouble with Flexible Thinking. It can sometimes look like these kids are "just being difficult", but inflexible thinking is often neurological. "Cognitive Flexibility", i.e Flexible Thinking, is an Executive Function skill and works hand in hand with Working Memory and Self Control. It's often the case that when a child has difficulties with Flexible Thinking, they also have trouble with Working Memory (holding something in one's mind--like following multiple step directions) and Self Control (think impulsivity and emotion regulation--"meltdowns"). It's often true that kids who have trouble with Flexible Thinking may have learning and/or attention challenges as well. If you think your child is struggling with Inflexible Thinking, you may consider having your child evaluated by a Neurologist and/or Educational Psychologist to rule out ADD/ADHD and/or a Learning Disability.




How to Help Stretch Your Child's Flexibility

  • Introduce the word "Flexible". Make it visual by using a simile. For example, "Flexible like a Tree" or "Flexible like Putty"

  • Model Flexibility. Say things like "My class was cancelled tonight. I was really looking forward to it, but I'm gonna be Flexible. Besides, it will be waiting for me next week".

  • Praise Flexibility. Any time you see your child exhibiting Flexible Thinking, point it out! Describe what exactly was Flexible. Let them know that you're proud of their effort!

  • Check our more resources online! Start with this one!


If you think your child has difficulty with Flexible Thinking, Creating Space Counseling and Wellness can help! I work with children and families to support kids through transitions, and to better tolerate, regulate and cope with tough emotions.


Call today to see if Creating Space Counseling and Wellness might be a great match for you! 856-281-1664



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