Foster Executive Skills through Family-Centered Coaching

proud father holding his sweet-faced son on his lap

Executive skills help people set goals to achieve the results they desire. All of us have differing strengths and challenges related to our executive skills. While these skills develop most strongly prenatally and into our mid-twenties, new research shows that we can build executive skills throughout our lives.

Executive skills can be broken down into three broad categories, each with specific sub skills:

How We Organize and Plan ThingsHow We React to ThingsHow We Get Things Done
Time management
Planning and prioritization
Response inhibition
Emotional control
Stress tolerance
Task initiation
Sustained attention
Goal-directed persistence
Working memory

Adults and children apply these skills in their daily lives to stay organized and to plan out the day or week. Adults use executive skills to think about and regulate what they are going to say to a child or manager, for example, before they say it. We use executive skills when we deciding to get off social media and start working on a task that we’ve been avoiding.

However, our ability to use our executive skills can be diminished by stress and scarcity. For families living with the daily trauma of racism and poverty, the burden and stress of accessing one’s executive skills can become overtaxed. Coaches can notice which executive skills may be necessary for families to reach their goals.   

Assessing your own executive skills helps you know your strengths and challenges as a coach. One powerful way to deepen your relationship with participants is to share executive-skills profiles and discuss each of your strengths and challenges. When we recognize that everyone has strengths and challenges, we can enter into more equal and respectful partnerships.  

Resources on Executive Skills

Explore these resources on executive skills, including how to administer and use the Adult Executive Skills Profile assessment: 

The Prosperity Agenda provides these resources as the designated national administrator of Family-Centered Coaching.