Given the multiple, complex roles and responsibilities of parenting, you are expected to rise to every occasion, deal with any crisis, know almost everything, provide a solution right here, right now; perform a miracle, predict the future and know exactly how your child feels. You are on call 24/7 and are expected to play the role of instant fixer, doctor, counsellor, teacher, leader, guide, ally, comforter, advocate, entertainer, protector. Dictionary, encyclopaedia, craftsman come a close second! And, you need to improvise and think on your feet in unexpected situations. For, children are unpredictable – just when you think nothing they do will surprise you, something will!
So, how do you prepare yourself for the surprises your child could well spring on you? And, how informed and prepared are you to meet your child’s needs – genuine or exaggerated? Do you think you will be able to serve up an on-the-spot creative, practical or acceptable response to soothe and help her feel like you are her anchor? Are you resourceful enough to handle all situations with ease? Resourcefulness will give you an edge when you are confronted by the unexpected.
Parenting resourcefulness refers to your ability to connect with your child, know and meet his needs, anticipate the expected, be prepared for the unexpected, be creative and innovative in dealing with his woes and much more. It’s about being there, answering, problem solving, just being strong (or at least pretending to be!).
Here is a questionnaire to check your parenting resourcefulness and some suggested solutions:
1. Would you discourage your child from sucking her thumb because it could make her teeth protrude?
Her milk teeth will fall out anyway. It will be good, though, if she gets out of the habit before the age of six or seven when the permanent teeth start growing as thumb-sucking at this stage could lead to a misalignment of her teeth.
2. Say your child shows worrisome behaviours and symptoms. Would you ignore them because you believe they will ‘go away’?
Hard as it may be to accept, it is best to do an early evaluation to rule out foreseeable problems and set the child on the path to healthy development.
3. Are you worried your child’s eyesight will get affected when he reads in dim light?
Dim light may not directly affect your child’s vision. Children’s eyes adjust quite easily to such light, but it will tire him out and cause fatigue faster. Good lighting prevents unnecessary eye strain and your child can read for a longer time.
4. Do you think that mental health problems are rarely found in children?
Children start showing symptoms of such problems as early as seven years. Being alert and open minded will enable you to use effective parenting techniques to help your child gain independence and confidence and build resilience. These are strong childhood protective factors that can keep mental illness at bay in later years.
5. Are you tempted to allow your pre-teen to colour her hair or have a facial done to give her a fresh look?
There’s enough and more time for that. All that her tender skin and hair needs is wholesome nourishment through healthy foods, good sleep, active play and warm, loving family relationships.
6. When your child is restless and over-active and seems to lose interest easily, would you fear that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder?
There are many causes for a child’s restlessness and lack of focus. A very bright child with advanced thinking or cognitive skills, a child struggling because of sensory development problems or one whose home is often disrupted by severe stress, can also have symptoms similar to those of ADHD. A skilful evaluation to detect the underlying reasons is the first step in helping the child settle.
7. You are inside the washroom and your toddler has managed to bolt the door from outside. Would you get into a panic?
You are bound to feel desperate in this situation. Breathe deeply to calm down and think of options. Talk to your child calmly and shout through the window for help. Sometimes. just leaning heavily on the door makes it easier to unlatch as it helps the mechanism move more smoothly. An important tip – disable low-level bolts and latches.
8. What would you do when your child is utterly confused and calls you up about something and insists that you sort it out for her immediately?
If your child is confused and desperately needs you to give her a reassuring answer, just give her one – even if you know it is not feasible. Buying time for yourself helps, and your child feels relieved. The issue can be addressed later when she has calmed down.
Your day could be filled with familiar and unfamiliar happenings. So, you need to regularly seek additional information, grasp ideas, learn from others and build your resourcefulness IQ. That will make each day more manageable and will help you give your best in different situations.
Arundhati Swamy is a counsellor and the Head of Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle.
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