Parent Resources

Click here to go back to the Parent Resources Page

Should We Rescue?
       "Mom, I forgot my math book and need it for homework."   Mom is annoyed: "I can't believe you did this again! Why can't you stop and think about what you need before you leave school?   Mark pleads, "Puleeze Mom! I promise this is the last time.    Drive me to school one last time!  You don't want to make me get a bad grade, do you?" Mom relents. "OK, but this is the last time!" 
       First, let's consider whose problem this is--Mark's or Mom's?  It's Mark's problem but it'll be easier for him if he can convince Mom it's hers!  Unfortunately, every time we "rescue" in a situation like this, we actually rob the child of an opportunity to learn how to solve his/her own problems.  By solving Mark's problem for him, Mom may unintentionally send a message
that he's incapable of finding a solution on his own.  She wants Mark to get  practice so as he grows older, he'll feel prepared and familiar with solving problems more complicated and challenging than this one.  Instead of rescuing Mark, let's look at five steps that will enable parents to guide their children.

Step 1:  Respond with empathy.  (You won't be the recipient of the child's anger.)  "I'm sorry.  I hate it when I forget things I need."
Step 2: Show you have confidence in him to solve his problem.  "What do think you ought to do about it?"
Step 3: Offer choices if he needs them.
"Would you like to hear what some other kids might do?"
Step 4: Help the child consider the various consequences of each option.  "How do you think that might work out for you?" (Note this important rule: You can solve a problem any way you like as long as it doesn't  make a problem for anyone else.)  "Sorry, driving you back to school would create a problem for me."
Step 5: Give your permission for your child to either solve the problem or not solve the problem.  "I know you'll come up with a solution.  Let me know how it turns out for you."
The sooner you begin letting your child practice problem solving, the better equipped he'll be to solve life's bigger dilemmas as they arise.

     --Sandy Lessig

© 2000 -2005, Study Smart, Inc.

If you find these articles helpful and would like to reproduce them, you must first gain permission. Click here to download the Copyright Permission Request Document.