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There’s no denying it, my son is an explorer. He is fearless. Nothing deters him when he has his eyes set on a goal. Because of this, he has been getting himself into sticky situations since he learned how to scoot his chubby little baby self around the room.

As soon as he realizes he’s met his match he calls out to me. “Help!”

My first instinct is always the same. Rescue. Get him down from the ledge. Unstick his foot from the crack. Pull him out from under the couch. Fix his problems.

However, from the beginning I’ve also realized that coming to the rescue might be a short term fix, but it’s not a long term solution. Whether it’s figuring out how to get down from the ladder at the park or learning how to put on his pants, knowing how to problem solve is an important life skill. I want him to grow up knowing how to keep his cool in tricky situations, having the confidence to solve his problems and clean up his messes. This isn’t to say that he will never need help, or that I expect him to do everything on his own, but it is important that he think through his actions and learn from his mistakes.

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So then, what’s a rescuing mama to do? Lately, I’ve been trying to do these three things:

  1. Calm. When you are stuck in a tricky situation, your brain starts to panic and logic flies out the window. My first step is to get him to take a breath, letting him know I am here to help, but first he needs to calm down.
  2. Coach. Now that he’s calm (hopefully!), I guide him through the process of solving his problem. Sometimes this means asking questions to get him to think of a solution and sometimes it means teaching the steps to solve the problem.
  3. Congratulate. After the situation is over, I make sure to tell him that he did a good job and encourage him to do it again next time.

My first instinct may still be to rescue, but with these three steps in mind I am able to slow down and use these moments to teach, rather than just solving the problems for him.

Are you a rescuer? Give these three steps a try and let me know if you have any luck!