Definitions, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Parent Tips, The Happy Student Podcast

#107 Learning to Think About What You’re Doing

Metacognition: a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve. It can help you make better decisions, like when you just want to yell at someone because that would feel good but you realize that’s not actually the best course of action – which is helpful as a student, in the workforce on a team, as well as as a partner, parent, and friend. But it’s a really difficult thing to teach. Fireborn’s got 6 tips to make it easier!




Metacognition is defined as “an awareness or understanding of one’s own thought process.” It’s  thinking about thinking.

The executive skills specialists, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, describe good metacognition as…

  • You can routinely evaluate your performance and devise methods for personal improvement,
  • You can step back from a situation in order to make objective decisions,
  • You can ‘read’ situations well and adjust your behavior based on the reactions of others.

Metacognition is a useful skill that can help you study better because you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve, so you can practice that deliberate studying from episode 95. It can help you make better decisions to choose the best course of action. 

Ways to help your child develop metacognition

Make some goals.

  • It’s really helpful if your kid comes up with these goals for themselves because then the goals are something they really care about. 
  • You need a goal so that you can practice thinking about evaluating your performance and coming up with ways to improve.


  • Strategizing and spending time planning helps us think about what we actually want to accomplish, come up with a way to do it, and then we can actually do it. Practicing going through this thought process helps develop metacognition because it helps us evaluate what we are doing and adjust our behavior

Ask questions.

The following questions are super helpful and come from a blog called Inner Drive. So the questions to be asking are:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What should I do first?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • What can I do differently?
  • Who can I ask for help? 

And then there are questions to ask yourself at the end:

  • What worked well?
  • What could I have done better?
  • Can I apply this to other situations?
  • Ask these questions in a collaborative tone as your child works on accomplishing their goals. It would also be a great idea for you to set your own goals and ask yourself these questions to model all of this for your kid.

Stop and take stock.

  • With those goals that you have, make plans to check-in later. Maybe that means you set a calendar reminder for a week from today to see how you’re doing. Or maybe it means once you’ve done 1 hour of work, you take a break and reflect on the work you’ve done.

Review behavior and tell stories.

  • Once you have worked towards achieving your goal, or you have achieved your goal, review what you did well and what needs improvement. 
  • One way to do that is to tell a simple story – the story of what you did. Taking the time to say out loud what you did slows down your thought process and gives you time to pause and reflect.


  • So much of the trouble with executive functions comes from stress and/or an inability to slow down and make intentional choices. Meditation helps with that. It’s a stress reducer and it slows us down so that we are responsive instead of reflexive, so that we make intentional choices instead of being driven by habit. 
  • For help with meditation, there are apps like Calm and 10% Happier, and the book Sitting Still Like a Frog is a good one too.


Inner Drive Questions

Teaching Metacognition


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