Signs & Symptoms


Is your child losing track of his or her progress on tasks?

Some children struggle to track their own progress. Children with these challenges may rush through tasks and may make lots of mistakes. They may also struggle with planning and completing long-term projects.

You may find that your child will read a passage wrong without stopping to notice that it makes no sense.  Children with these issues tend to have poor reading comprehension because they do not think about the reasonableness of the words they are reading.

For example, they may read “snow” for “show,” not realizing that this story takes place in the summertime.

Your child may also have trouble with math problems. For example, he or she may add 23 + 45 and get an answer like 12.

Answering an addition question with a smaller number is a sign that the child is not pausing to think if the answer makes sense.

What do challenges with Self-Monitoring look like?

  • Answering a math problem wrong without realizing the answer makes no sense?
  • Reading a passage wrong without pausing to notice?
  • Struggling with reading comprehension?
  • Speeding through a test and making silly mistakes?
  • Getting assignments in late and forgetting important due dates?
  • Missing appointments and showing up late for class?

Why is Self-Monitoring happening?

Children who have trouble assessing their own progress on a goal or a task are having difficulty with a skill known clinically as self-monitoring. Self-Monitoring is the ability to recognize when you are on track in your efforts. If your child is struggling, he or she may have poor executive functioning in the area of self-monitoring. The executive functions are like the central executive of the brain, which is the part that does the thinking, planning, judging, and organizing. Sequencing skills are also required for self-monitoring, as children have to know how to put steps and priorities in order. 

Self-monitoring is required for what psychologists call goal-directed behavior. This term describes the ability to set a goal, to lay out a plan to accomplish it, and then to see it through to completion. Children with poor self-monitoring and metacognition have a hard time with long-term projects, due-dates, and general task completion.

How can I manage Self-Monitoring at home?

If you suspect your child may have trouble with self-monitoring, a school psychologist or clinical psychologist can conduct a test of executive functions (see list below). These tests can provide information about your child’s higher order problem-solving skills, including planning, sequencing, and self-monitoring.

On many executive functioning assessments, “self-monitoring skills” are identified by the shortened title, “Monitor.” If your child indeed has poor self-monitoring, it will be helpful to teach your child how to monitor his or her own progress.

Teachers may say, “he needs to slow down. He just rushes through and runs out for recess.”

Some children who fail to self-monitor are actually processing information very quickly, and in a sense they get ahead of themselves. It will help your child to have a check-list of areas to consider upon completion of an assignment.

For example, a teacher might provide a rubric or a list of questions. The questions might be like, “Did I put my name on my paper? Do I have a title? Do I have a topic sentence?” These techniques can go a long way in helping your child learn how to self-monitor his own progress on assignments.

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Self-Monitoring?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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