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Unlocking Executive Function Skills: The Power of Declarative Language in Shaping Success

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Imagine a parent trying to convince their child to eat more vegetables. Instead of simply commanding the child to eat, the parent takes a clever approach using declarative language:

"Did you know, sweetie, that broccoli is actually a mini tree that gives you superhero strength when you eat it? And carrots? They're special orange sticks that help you see better in the dark, just like a ninja!"

By creatively using declarative language to convey the benefits of vegetables, the parent not only captures the child's attention but also encourages them to make healthier choices.

Hopefully, this example highlights the power of declarative language as a tool to engage, inform, and influence, even in everyday situations.

By presenting information in a fun and imaginative way, parents can support their child's decision-making skills and pique their interest in making healthier choices.

This is just a small taste of the potential that declarative language holds in nurturing executive function skills and shaping success. Keep reading to learn how declarative language can transform the way you communicate, teach, and inspire children and students.

Using these practical strategies, real-life applications, and expert insights, you too can harness the full potential of declarative language in fostering cognitive development and unlocking a brighter future for the young minds in your life.

What is declarative language, and how does it differ from imperative language?

Declarative language, a vital aspect of communication, refers to the use of statements that convey facts, information, or knowledge. This form of language is distinct from other types, such as interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory language, which pose questions, issue commands, or express strong emotions, respectively.

Declarative language plays a crucial role in our daily conversations and written communication, as it helps us share information and build understanding.

Conversely, imperative language refers to commands, requests, or instructions that direct someone to perform a specific action. While imperative language can be effective in certain situations, excessive or inappropriate use may damage parent-child relationships.

Constantly issuing commands can make children feel as though they lack control over their lives and decisions, which may result in feelings of resentment or rebellion, undermining the trust and bond between parent and child.

Overusing imperative language can hinder the development of a child's problem-solving skills, as they may become reliant on their parents to provide solutions rather than learning to think critically and independently.

Excessive use of imperative language can also create an environment where children may not feel comfortable expressing their emotions, impairing the development of their emotional intelligence.

Balancing the use of imperative language with more supportive and nurturing communication styles can foster healthier parent-child relationships and promote children's cognitive and emotional development.

What are examples of declarative language versus imperative language?

Declarative Language (statements of fact, information, or opinion):

  • The capital of France is Paris.

  • I love reading science fiction novels.

  • Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth.

Imperative Language (commands or requests):

  • Please pass the salt.

  • Open the door.

  • Don't forget to water the plants.

How can parents use declarative language to improve their child's executive functioning?

Parents can use declarative language to improve their children's decision-making skills by clearly communicating information, providing guidance, and encouraging thoughtful discussions.

Here are some examples of how parents can leverage declarative language to support the development of decision-making skills in their children:

Discussing consequences

Parents can use declarative language to explain the potential outcomes of different choices, helping children understand the cause-and-effect relationship between decisions and consequences.

For example, a parent might say, "If you don't finish your homework now, you might have to stay up late to complete it, and you'll be tired tomorrow."

Encouraging problem-solving

Parents can present problems or dilemmas to their children and use declarative language to outline possible solutions. This approach enables children to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make informed decisions.

For instance, a parent could say, "You can either save your allowance for a larger toy or spend it now on a smaller one."

Sharing personal experiences

Parents can use declarative language to share their own experiences and the lessons they've learned, providing valuable insights that children can apply to their decision-making process.

For example, a parent might share, "When I was your age, I chose to join the school band, and it helped me make new friends and develop my musical skills."

Modeling decision-making

Parents can demonstrate effective decision-making by verbalizing their thought processes using declarative language. This approach allows children to observe and learn from their parents' decision-making strategies.

For instance, a parent could say, "I need to decide whether to cook dinner at home or order takeout. Cooking at home is healthier and saves money, but ordering takeout is quicker and more convenient."

Asking open-ended questions

Parents can use declarative language to pose open-ended questions that prompt children to think critically about their decisions.

For example, a parent might ask, "What factors are most important to you when choosing which after-school activity to participate in?"

Providing constructive feedback

Parents can offer feedback on their children's decisions using declarative language, helping them learn from their choices and improve their decision-making skills over time.

For instance, a parent could say, "I noticed that you decided to study for your test early, and it paid off with a better grade. Keep up the good work!"

By incorporating declarative language into their interactions with their children, parents can create a supportive environment that fosters the development of strong decision-making skills.

What are other resources that can help me learn how to use declarative language?

The Declarative Language Handbook is an indispensable resource for parents and educators looking to teach executive function skills, as it offers comprehensive guidance, strategies, and practical examples for effectively using declarative language.

It provides a solid theoretical foundation, helping users appreciate the impact of declarative language on cognitive development. The handbook also offers age-appropriate strategies, ensuring that the techniques are suitable for children at different developmental stages.

With real-life examples and case studies, demonstrating how declarative language can be applied in various contexts, plus tips and suggestions for addressing challenges that may arise while implementing these strategies, The Declarative Language Handbook is a practical, user-friendly resource for enhancing children's executive function skills.


By using declarative language in daily conversations and educational settings, parents and educators can create a supportive environment that promotes cognitive and emotional growth.

If you're interested in further enhancing these essential skills, consider exploring executive function coaching. This tailored coaching focuses on individual needs, providing targeted strategies and guidance to improve executive function skills in children and students. Engaging in executive function coaching equips young minds with the tools they need to succeed academically, overcome challenges, and develop essential life skills.

Don't hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity to support the young minds in your life. Learn more about executive function coaching today and unlock the full potential of declarative language in fostering a successful and well-rounded future.

About the author

Sean G. McCormick founded Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization, and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered. He trains educators, parents, and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges through his courses in the Executive Function Coaching Academy.


Executive Functions, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Executive Functions, Inc. will earn a commission.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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