Closing the EF Gap, Part 2:
Mastering the 4 Dimensions of NVWM

There are four dimensions kids need to think about when they enter any situation to help them guide their behaviour using their nonverbal working memory (NVWM). We will explore each of these and see if we can get your kids on the path to mastering the art of reading the room. This week, we will focus on the who and the what.


The first thing we need to consider is who else is in the room. If they can, read the person/people. This alone can tell us a lot of information. Have you ever entered a room where people were having a heated conversation? Your reaction is likely very different than if people were cracking jokes. We can guide our behaviours depending on who is in the room. You are even likely to act differently if your boss is in the room or your best friend.

Even more importantly for our kids though, and especially in places like school, is to figure out what their own role is in the moment. Who they are supposed to be in a given situation. Sometimes their job is to run around and play, such as in the gym. Other times they are to sit quietly and read, such as in the library. Or sit to quietly and listen, such as in the classroom.
Sometimes kids forget and/or not motivated to do what they are supposed to be doing. Which is why we have them focus on the who. Who they are supposed to be right now? What is their role?  In the examples above, their roles would be runner, reader, and listener, respectively.

There is research behind it – assigning roles is very motivating for kids. Try it out at home. Instead of telling kids what they are supposed to do, turn it into a doing role.

For example, if they are supposed to walk the dog, they become dog walkers. Similarly:
Verb it up. Seriously, try this at home - assign a job for your kids to do with a job title. It might be the greatest magic trick to get them to do their chores yet.


Let’s look at the what of the room.

The first what is the space they are in. When they are doing homework, the space is their workspace. If the workspace is their desk, then it needs to be organized so they can get their work done. (How to organize their workspace is discussed in future issues).

Another space could be their bed. If they need to go to sleep, then they need to ensure the bed is cleared enough for them to lie in.

If they have a job to do then the what can also include the things they need to complete the task. If they have to write a journal entry, the what is their journal and pencil. If they need to get ready for bed, then the what is their pajamas. There is a purpose for each thing.

If they have anything else in their hands and that thing does not help them complete their job, they are off-task. (We can start to use these situations to our advantage in the future when we talk about the times they get distracted).
This week, start assigning roles. And have your kids start noticing their spaces and the purpose for each of the things they need to get their jobs done. You can also model your own roles while talking about how you get your spaces ready and what you use to get your tasks done. Consciously thinking about these things will help your kids start to develop that internal dialogue necessary for independence.

We will look at the next to dimensions next time.

Happy to help.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions about anything in this article or other related topics.
Let me know too if there is a particular topic you would like me to write about.
Dr. Caroline Buzanko

Dr. Caroline Buzanko is a mom (with ADHD) who has first hand experience parenting kids with ADHD. She is also a leading expert working with families and kids with ADHD and has years of clinical experience to share with you.
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Copyright © 2019 Dr. Caroline Buzanko, All rights reserved.

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