51 Executive Functioning Activities for Teens

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As teenagers navigate the complexities of adolescence, developing strong executive functioning skills becomes crucial for their academic and personal success. These skills incorporate a range of cognitive processes that enable teens to plan, prioritize, and regulate their thoughts and behaviors effectively. 

By incorporating fun activities that target specific executive functioning areas, you can empower your teen to thrive in various aspects of life.

What Are Executive Functioning Activities?

Executive functioning activities are intentional exercises and practices designed to strengthen the cognitive processes that enable your teen to: 

  • Plan
  • Organize
  • Manage time effectively
  • Regulate emotions
  • Solve problems

These activities enhance the brain’s ability to focus, multitask, and adapt to changing situations, ultimately improving overall productivity and well-being.


Mastering Time Management

Time management is a skill that will significantly impact productivity and stress levels. Here are some time management activities to have your teen try: 

#1 Utilize a Timer for Study Sessions: 

Encourage your teen to use a timer or productivity app to manage their study sessions. This strategy will help them avoid procrastination and stay focused.

#2 Time Blocking: 

Introduce the concept of time blocking, where they will allocate specific time slots for different tasks. 

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#3 Prioritizing Tasks:

Prioritization skills help teens manage their workload and focus on the most important tasks. 

Introduce the Eisenhower Matrix, a tool for prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance. Provide scenarios where they can practice identifying urgent versus important tasks and prioritize accordingly.

#4 Create a Daily Schedule: 

Assist your teen in creating a daily schedule that allocates time for:

  • Classes
  • Homework
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Meals
  • Leisure time

A well-structured routine can help you establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

#5 Creating a Weekly Planner: 

Encourage your teen to create a weekly planner to schedule their classes, extracurricular activities, assignments, and personal commitments. 

This practice helps them visualize their obligations and prioritize tasks accordingly. Suggest they try different digital calendar apps to schedule their commitments and set reminders.

#6 Monitoring Task Progress 

Task monitoring involves tracking progress, identifying obstacles, and adjusting as needed. Teach teens to set checkpoints and use self-assessment tools to monitor their task completion.

Encourage them to reflect on their progress and make necessary adjustments to stay on track.


Enhancing Cognitive Flexibility 

Cognitive flexibility allows teens to adapt to changing situations and think outside the box. Encourage them to view change as an opportunity for growth and learning.

#7 Brain Teasers and Puzzles: 

Introduce your teen to brain teasers, logic puzzles, or riddles that challenge their thinking and problem-solving abilities. These activities can improve their cognitive flexibility and ability to think outside the box.

#8 Trying New Hobbies or Activities: 

Encourage your teen to explore new hobbies or activities that require them to learn new skills or adapt to different environments. This exposure can enhance their ability to adapt to change and think creatively.

#9 Role-Playing Different Scenarios: 

Engage your teen in role-playing exercises where they can practice adapting to different situations or perspectives. This activity can help them develop empathy, communication skills, and the ability to think flexibly.


Boosting Working Memory 

Working memory plays a crucial role in retaining and manipulating information. 

#10 Memory Games and Puzzles: 

Engage your teen in memory games, such as Simon, card games, puzzles, or brain teasers, to improve their short-term memory skills.

#11 Recalling Information Without Notes: 

Encourage your teen to practice recalling information from memory, such as summarizing a book chapter or reciting a speech, without relying on notes. This exercise can strengthen their ability to retain and retrieve information.

#12 Mnemonic Devices: 

Teach your teen mnemonic devices, such as acronyms, rhymes, or visual associations, to aid in memory retention and recall. These techniques can be beneficial for memorizing complex information or vocabulary words.

#13 Memory Challenges:

Create daily memory challenges that prompt your teen to retrieve and utilize stored information actively. These challenges should test your teen’s capacity to remember key details and correctly apply them in various contexts. 

By creating these customized tasks, you can effectively enhance your teen’s working memory abilities and help them strengthen their cognitive skills over time.

You can check out this article for more memory activity ideas: 33 Easy Games and Activities for Kids to Improve Memory.

Developing Self-Regulation and Impulse Control 

Self-regulation skills enable teens to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively. 

#14 Deep Breathing Exercises: 

Introduce your teen to deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic or box breathing, to help them manage stress and anxiety. These techniques can promote relaxation and improve focus.

#15 Mindfulness Activities: 

Encourage your teen to practice mindfulness activities like yoga, meditation, or guided imagery exercises. These practices can help them cultivate self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being.

#16 Setting Boundaries for Screen Time: 

Assist your teen in setting healthy boundaries for screen time, including social media, gaming, and entertainment. Establishing limits can help them maintain a balanced lifestyle and avoid excessive digital distractions.

#17 Journaling About Emotions and Triggers

Encourage your teen to keep a journal where they can write about their emotions, identify triggers, and explore coping strategies. This practice can promote self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

#18 Practicing Inhibition Control 

Impulse control is a critical aspect of executive functioning. Create a list of exercises that challenge teens to pause and think before acting. Role-play scenarios where they practice evaluating the consequences of their actions before making decisions.

#19 Fostering Self-Monitoring 

Self-monitoring skills enable teens to evaluate their own behaviors, actions, and progress. Encourage them to set personal goals for self-improvement and provide tools or apps that help them track their progress. Teach them the importance of self-reflection and making data-driven decisions.

#20 Grow a Support Network: 

Help your teen build a support network of trusted adults, such as teachers, counselors, family members, and peers, to whom they can turn for emotional support and guidance. Find professionals who can provide additional coping techniques for dealing with stress, anxiety, or overwhelming feelings

You may also want to check out these Effective Emotional Regulation Activities for Children.  


#21 Setting Achievable Goals 

Goal-setting is a valuable skill that fosters motivation and direction. Guide teens in setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals. 

Encourage them to create vision boards or write down their goals to visualize their aspirations. Provide examples of short-term and long-term goals to inspire them.

Teach them how to create comprehensive plans that outline their objectives, resources, potential obstacles, and solutions. Encourage your teen to regularly review and adjust their plans to align with their goals.

You can dive into more on goal setting in this article: Easy Goal Setting Ideas for Your Child with Special Needs


#22 Mastering Decision-Making

Effective decision-making involves weighing pros and cons, considering multiple perspectives, and thinking critically. 

Introduce decision-making matrices or tools that help teens evaluate different options. Encourage them to engage in debates or discussions that challenge their ability to analyze and make informed choices.


#23 Work on Project Management Skills 

Sometimes, getting started is the most challenging part of a task. Create a list of motivational strategies encouraging teens to break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. 

Teach them the importance of setting deadlines and holding themselves accountable for initiating and completing tasks.

Project management skills are invaluable for tackling complex tasks or assignments. Provide a step-by-step guide for initiating and planning a project, including: 

  • Creating timelines
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • Breaking down tasks into manageable steps


Problem-Solving Activities

Problem-solving is a vital executive functioning skill that involves analyzing situations, generating solutions, and making informed decisions. 

#24 Brainstorming Solutions to Real-Life Problems: 

Present your teen with real-life scenarios or challenges and encourage them to brainstorm potential solutions. This exercise can improve their problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities.

#25 Encouraging Seeking Help When Needed: 

Teach your teen the importance of recognizing when they need assistance and seeking help from appropriate resources, such as teachers, counselors, or peers. This skill can promote self-awareness and help them overcome obstacles more effectively.

#26 Reflecting on Past Problem-Solving Successes: 

Encourage your teen to reflect on past situations where they successfully solved problems. Discussing their thought process and strategies can reinforce their problem-solving skills and build confidence.

For even more problem solving activities check out this article: 26 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Kids.

Building Social Skills

#27 Mastering Communication Skills 

Effective communication is essential for collaboration, conflict resolution, and expressing ideas clearly.

Provide communication exercises that allow teens to practice active listening, clear articulation, and assertiveness. Encourage your teen to share their perspectives and thoughts respectfully and constructively.

#28 Resolving Conflicts Effectively 

Conflict resolution skills are crucial for navigating interpersonal challenges and maintaining healthy relationships. 

Teach teens strategies for resolving conflicts peacefully and effectively. Provide examples of conflict resolution techniques, such as active listening, empathy, and compromise.

#29 Practicing Active Listening

Teach your teen the importance of active listening in conversations. Encourage them to focus on the speaker, make eye contact, and avoid interrupting. This skill can enhance their communication and interpersonal relationships.

#30 Engaging in Group Activities

Encourage your teen to participate in group activities or clubs that interest them. Collaborative experiences can help them develop teamwork and social skills.


#31 Role-Playing Social Scenarios

Role-play different social situations with your teen to help them practice and improve their social interactions. This can build your teen’s confidence and ability to handle various social settings.


#32 Negotiating and Compromising 

Negotiation and compromise are valuable skills for finding mutually beneficial solutions. Engage teens in role-playing scenarios that require them to negotiate and find common ground.

Encourage them to approach negotiations open-mindedly, considering multiple perspectives, and seeking win-win outcomes.


#33 Delegating and Collaborating 

Effective delegation and collaboration are essential for managing workloads and achieving shared goals. Teach teens how to delegate tasks effectively, taking into account individual strengths and responsibilities. Encourage them to participate in group projects or activities that require teamwork, communication, and shared accountability.

You may also want to check out these 5 Essential Communication Techniques.

Setting Up a Study Environment

#34 Creating a Quiet and Organized Study Space: 

Assist your teen in setting up a dedicated study space that is quiet, organized, and free from distractions. A conducive environment can improve focus and productivity.


#35 Limit Distractions: 

During study sessions, help your teen identify and eliminate potential distractions, such as phones, television, or social media. This practice can improve their ability to sustain attention and concentration.


#36 Establish a Routine for Homework and Study Sessions: 

Encourage your teen to establish a consistent routine for completing homework and studying. A predictable schedule can help them develop healthy habits and improve time management skills.

You may also want to check out these study tips: How to Study With ADHD (Tips for Studying That Work!)

Incorporating Physical Activity

#37 Exercise to Improve Focus and Concentration: 

Encourage your teen to participate in regular physical activity like walking, running, or playing sports. Exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, focus, and concentration.


#38 Taking Breaks to Move and Stretch: 

Remind your teen to take regular breaks to move and stretch during study sessions. Brief periods of physical activity can help them stay energized and focused.

The ideas in this article will help: Brain Break Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

#39 Participating in Team Sports or Group Fitness Classes: 

Encourage your teen to join a team sport or group fitness class. These activities promote physical health and foster teamwork, communication, and social skills.

Need even more ideas for adding in physical activity? Check out this article: 34 Fun Ways to Add Movement to Boost Learning

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits

#40 Establishing a Bedtime Routine: 

Assist your teen in creating a consistent bedtime routine. This can include relaxing activities such as: 

  • Reading
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Meditation

A structured routine can improve sleep quality and promote better cognitive functioning.


#41 Limiting Screen Time Before Bed: 

Encourage your teen to limit screen time, including television, computers, and smartphones, at least an hour before bedtime. There is blue light that emits from these devices which can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.


#42 Getting Enough Sleep to Support Cognitive Function: 

Educate your teen on the importance of getting enough sleep for optimal cognitive performance. Adequate sleep is essential for memory consolidation, attention, and decision-making abilities.

Pick up more ideas from this article: The Ultimate Guide to a Better Bedtime Routine for Kids

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

#43 Providing Nutritious Snacks for Brain Health: 

Offer your teen brain-boosting snacks, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, to fuel their cognitive functions and maintain energy levels throughout their day.


#44 Eating Regular Meals to Maintain Energy Levels: 

Encourage your teen to establish a regular meal schedule and avoid skipping meals. Consistent nutrition can help regulate blood sugar levels, prevent energy crashes, and promote focus.


#45 Drinking Plenty of Water Throughout the Day: 

Remind your teen to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can impact cognitive performance, mood, and overall well-being.

#46 Fostering Accountability 

Accountability is a critical aspect of executive functioning that involves taking responsibility for one’s actions and commitments. Provide exercises encouraging teens to hold themselves and others accountable for their roles and responsibilities.


Fostering a Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset can empower teens to embrace challenges and see failures as opportunities for growth. 

Introduce them to growth vs. fixed mindsets and provide examples of how a growth mindset can positively impact their lives. 


#47 Practicing Positive Self-Talk: 

Teach your teen the importance of positive self-talk and help them reframe negative thoughts into more constructive and encouraging ones. This skill can improve their self-confidence and resilience.


#48 Seeking and Applying Feedback 

Feedback is a valuable tool for personal and professional growth. Teach teens how to give and receive feedback constructively. 

Provide guidelines for effective feedback communication and encourage them to use feedback as a catalyst for self-improvement and skill development.

Check out these 4 Easy Ways to Help Develop Growth Mindset in Kids.

#49 Empowering Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility involves taking ownership of one’s actions and decisions. Supply exercises that promote self-reliance and accountability. 

Encourage teens to reflect on their choices and understand the consequences. Teach them to seek solutions rather than making excuses, fostering a sense of independence and maturity.


#50 Persevering Through Challenges 

Perseverance and resilience are crucial to overcoming obstacles and achieving long-term goals. Engage teens in activities that challenge them to push through difficulties and learn from setbacks. 

Encourage your teen to embrace failure as an opportunity for learning and growth.


#51 Reflection and Adjustment 

Reflection and adjustment are vital components of executive functioning. Guide teens in reflecting on their experiences, identifying areas for improvement, and making necessary adjustments to their approach. 

Teach them the value of learning from mistakes and using feedback to grow and evolve.



Developing strong executive functioning skills is pivotal for teens’ success academically and personally. Incorporating executive functioning activities can help your teen build a foundation for lifelong success. 

Encourage your teen to practice these skills regularly and provide ongoing support as they become responsible, resilient individuals.

Additional Resources

You may want to check out these additional resources for parents: 


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Five diverse teenagers sitting on a basketball court, smiling and posing together, with a basketball on the floor. The text reads '51 Executive Functioning Activities for Teens' and SpecialEdResource.com.
Does your teen have Executive Function Disorder? Support them by encouraging these executive functioning activities for teens

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