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Give the Kids the First Crack at Problem Solving
October 31, 2023
When we begin to deeply understand that all experiences build brain architecture, we will uphold our ordinary experiences as sacred and tangible teaching moments that support and prioritize safety and connection throughout our children’s lives.
-Lori L. Desautels, Connections Over Compliance
In a recent "Think:Moment" from Thinkkids.org, Dr. Stuart Ablon shares two compelling reasons to 'give kids the first crack at' solving the situations that lead to challenging behaviors.

First, when children have a chance to try out their own solutions, they are more likely to ‘buy in’ to fixing the problem. More importantly, solving problems for them robs them of much needed practice in seeing and solving problems for themselves. If their solution doesn’t work, you can revisit it with them and try again, perhaps offering more guidance, but still involving them in the thinking and strategies.

Hear it in Dr. Ablon’s own words in a very short video: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/HgvrtGO_7Z8

When’s the right time to invite children to problem-solve with you? It’s not in the middle of a crisis, when they - and often we - are feeling disregulated or disconnected. That is what Kirsten Haugen calls ‘the unteachable moment,’ because under stress or in ‘fight-flight-freeze’ mode, the brain neurochemically switches off the prefrontal cortex where both reflecting and planning take place. Instead, the limbic system, where powerful emotional memories are stored, sends out alarms and put the body into survival mode, ready to react or retreat. Think of the outburst as a storm, and wait for calm to return before attempting any repairs. Replace reprimands and other power-over approaches with shelter and safety for all while the adrenaline and cortisol slowly drain away. This will put everyone in a better state to try Dr Ablon’s approach.


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