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Learned Helplessness

Helping your Child be More Optimistic

Learned helplessness is a conditioned that can lead to anxiety and depression. It happens when one is taught to behave helplessly even if the opportunity is there to remove themselves from a harmful situation. Especially at risk are children who at an early age were neglected or institutionalized.

It begins when a child sees no correlation between their actions and an outcome. The lack of adult response leads some to feel that no matter what they do, their situation will not change, so they give up trying. As a result, for many children who suffer from this, do poorly in school. What are some strategies that can be implemented to overcome learned helplessness? Let us take a look at a few helpful ideas.

Those young ones who have this helplessness do not think that anything is in their control. It is important that they be shown that effort improves skill. To accomplish this, help the child to recognize and take credit for the abilities they already have. Next show that these abilities are not static. They can and do change. Skill can be refined and knowledge can be built upon. They begin to learn that what they are capable of doing is in their control.

Train a child to focus on strategies and the process of learning, not the outcome or achievements. What other children do or don't do is not important. They a need to know that their efforts will result in an outcome. Help them to come up with a plan. Include having them ask for help when they need it.

This strategy ties in well with the next one, adjust the view that failure is inevitable. This can be done in a number of ways. Take some time with the child and talk to them. Discuss past successes and what led to them. How can it be done again? How can it be improved upon? Another important lesson for them is that mistakes are part of life. When a mistake is made, we need to learn from it. It is a stepping stone, not a proof of failure.

Finally, set a good example and be mindful of what and how you speak. Be positive and encourage your young one. Watch out for statements like 'that is too hard for you..' or 'let me do that for you'. Instead help your child to figure out ways to solve problems and improve situations. Your example in this will go a long way in helping to overcome learned helplessness.

While learned helplessness in a child can be difficult to deal with, it can be successfully overcome. Be patient and don't give up.



Learned Helplessness

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