After ignoring the protesters for over a week, President Mubarak of Egypt finally went on TV last night and made some minor concessions. The analysts this morning described his speech as "too little too late". Had Mubarak reacted quickly to the protests and made some significant concessions, he probably would have prevented the protests from escalating. Instead, he waited too long and let the problem get much bigger - then did not deal with it with properly. [we now know Mubarak eventually had to resign altogether].
I gave the kids other examples of this: if we start falling behind at school, the sooner we deal with the problem the better. If we wait too long the knowledge gap often becomes so large it is impossible to address it in time. Or, if we start getting out of shape or gaining weight, it might be manageable to address the situation early with some moderate exercise and a reasonable diet. But if we let the situation deteriorate we might end up needing a medical intervention or worst.
Stay ahead of the problems and they will stay small (well, at least most of the times).