Executive Functions: What they are and Activities to stimulate them

Executive Functions: What they are and Activities to stimulate them

Executive Functions: What they are and Activities to stimulate them

It is very normal to be doing an activity with your child and have doubts about the style. Is this activity educational, is it developing some skill or is it useful for something? Parenting is riddled with self-doubt and that's okay. Doubt is the first step to progress. In this article, we want to tell you what executive functions are, why they are important and how you can stimulate them through a variety of educational and recreational activities.

What are executive functions?

Executive functions, within cognitive psychology, represent a crucial set of mental processes that come into play when we strive to achieve specific goals. These cognitive abilities act like the conductor of an orchestra, coordinating and regulating our behavior in an independent, focused and adaptive manner.

What are executive functions for?

Executive functions are vital for the optimal functioning of our mind and our behavior, in more than one aspect of our lives. Their importance lies in the fact that they have the ability to facilitate cognitive activities and skills. Although it is true that the fruits of promoting and stimulating executive functions in children are seen when they are already adolescents. We explain what exactly they are best for, below:

Organization and planning

They allow us to organize our daily activities, establish priorities and develop action plans.

Problem resolution

They train us to address and solve problems effectively. This involves analyzing complex situations, identifying possible solutions and making decisions to overcome obstacles.

Self-control and emotional regulation

They are vital to be able to regulate our emotions and behaviors. They allow us to control impulses, resist temptation and maintain focus.

Mental flexibility

They generate the capacity to adapt to new or changing situations with ease. Which translates into being able to change strategies when one is not working, adjust to new circumstances and think creatively. They provide much-needed flexibility.

Learning and memory

They have been shown to be closely related to the learning process and information retention. Working memory, for example, allows us to maintain and manipulate relevant information while learning new skills or concepts.

What are the executive functions in children?


When it comes to executive functions in children, we are talking about that set of skills that must be developed and strengthened throughout childhood and adolescence. These skills will be essential for the academic, social and emotional success of the little ones. The key executive functions are:


Children need the ability to control their impulses and behave appropriately in different situations. Inhibition allows them to resist the temptation to continually act impulsively and follow social rules and norms.

Work memory

As we explained in the previous section, it is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind while performing tasks. A vital aspect in traditional teaching for graduation.

Cognitive flexibility

Children must be able to adapt to new situations and change their approach as necessary. Beyond the fact that routine is necessary, the ideal is that they can understand changes in a positive way, whether it is a separation, a move or a change in the general dynamics of the home.

Decision making

Children need to learn easy  to evaluate different options and choose the best way to proceed. Decision making should feel completely independent to them. That is, they do not feel forced to choose a certain thing, because they think that you as a parent are what you want, or because they are afraid. It's okay if they make mistakes and don't make the best decision, mistakes are necessary.

Activities to stimulate executive functions in children

To stimulate and strengthen these functions from childhood, there are plenty of activity options. The ideal is to make these activities something fun and educational, that does not feel so much like a responsibility or a boring and dull obligation. Can't you think of any? Don't worry, we give you some ideas:

Table games

From the classic Monopoly to strategy games like chess or card games like UNO, fun board games for kids offer fertile ground for the development of executive functions. These types of games require strategic planning, decision making, cognitive flexibility to adapt to changing situations, and the ability to inhibit impulsive responses. And above all things, they are fun!

Mazes and puzzles

Mazes and puzzles challenge attention, working memory, and the ability to follow instructions. Solving a maze or completing a puzzle requires concentration, visual memory, and the ability to think sequentially, all of which contribute to strengthening executive functions.

Classification and order activities

Classifying objects according to their shape, size or color, arranging toys or clothing, are simple but effective activities to stimulate the executive functions of categorization, organization and planning. You can also add extra time to these types of activities. That is, designate the task and give them a specific time in which they have to complete it. There are wall clock kids room  of Kiddus that are easy for children to read. Place one in the room where the child will be and explain how much time he or she has.

Cooking and crafts

Cooking and craft ideas for kids offer opportunities to develop planning, task sequencing, fine motor skills, and creativity. Following a recipe or crafting a craft project involves following steps in order, making decisions about ingredients or materials, and thinking creatively to solve problems.

Reading and writing

Reading stories or making up stories not only stimulates the imagination, but also strengthens working memory and verbal fluency. By imagining scenarios, remembering details, and expressing ideas coherently, children exercise their executive functions naturally.

Science and experimentation projects

Conducting scientific fun homemade experiments for kids and research projects provides opportunities to strengthen attention, cognitive flexibility, and decision making.

Sports and outdoor games

Physical activity not only benefits physical health as such, but also plays a crucial role in the development of executive functions. Participating in sports or outdoor games such as hopscotch or soccer requires coordination, attention, and quick decision-making. It doesn't have to be a single activity, it can be several. For example, 3 activities of 20 minutes. Give your child a kiddus horloge and explain to him how the time designated for activities works, so he will also learn to organize and distribute his time.

Role plays and theater

Role-playing games for children and drama are activities that encourage creativity, communication, and problem-solving. By playing different roles and situations, children exercise their planning skills (by creating scenarios and dialogues), their working memory (by remembering lines and character details), and their cognitive flexibility (by adapting to different roles and situations).

Benefits of stimulating executive functions in children


Strengthening, promoting and developing executive functions in children brings many more benefits than you may be thinking or that we have mentioned so far, for example:

Improved adaptation

Executive functions enable children to adapt effectively to new and complicated environments. By developing these skills, children can approach challenges with greater confidence and flexibility, which is reflected in an improved ability to cope with unforeseen changes in school, family and social environments. It also brings a certain tolerance for frustration when things don't go as expected.

Informed decision making

Promoting executive functions helps children learn to evaluate options, consider consequences, and make decisions that are in sync with what they are looking for. This skill is essential for their personal growth and problem-solving ability, thus preparing them to make responsible and ethical decisions throughout their lives.

Impulse control

Executive functions are crucial in helping children regulate their impulses and behaviors. Learning to control acting on impulse is necessary to work on routine, risk control and frustration tolerance. Spontaneous actions are almost always associated with some type of emotion, so when the result is not what was sought, the “low” it causes can be quite considerable.

Better academic performance

There is a close relationship between executive functions and academic performance. By stimulating these skills, children improve their ability to concentrate, remember important information, and organize their schoolwork effectively.

Development of social skills

Those children who are able to regulate their emotions and behaviors tend to have more positive relationships with their peers and teachers. By learning to control their actions and emotions, the little ones are able to communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts constructively and work as a team in a truly collaborative way.

Preparation for adult life

Ultimately, fostering executive functions in childhood lays the foundation for success in adult life. Children who master these skills are more likely to successfully overcome their future work, academic, and personal challenges.


In short, executive functions are essential for daily functioning and success in any aspect of life. As parents, by understanding what they are and how we can strengthen them in our children, we can better equip them to face the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that arise. From board games to outdoor activities, there are a variety of ways to choose from. By doing this you will not only be helping your child's development, but you will be creating instances for memory and connection.


Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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