Executive function is a broad term that encompasses the tasks involved in self-regulation of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Strong executive function is critical to successfully navigating the complex adult world.

Executive function skills underlie the capacity to plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions.

Although no one is born with these skills, nearly everyone can learn them. These skills are developed through experiences and practice and the foundation is laid in infancy when babies first learn to pay attention.
 Excerpted from the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University