Learned Helplessness: What Is It And How Does It Affect Children?

Children acquire resources and tools that increase their resilience throughout their learning process. However, there are also factors that enhance vulnerability : learned helplessness places the child in the face of reality from the perspective of fragility.

The thoughts that accompany this situation mean that the protagonist does not find a motivation to act proactively in the face of circumstances. He believes that any attempt will lead to a similar result. And consequently, when anticipating a foreseeable scenario, he finds no motivation to get involved . The child has the ability to take care of tasks and objectives appropriate to his age. For example, the completion of school homework.

Negative Effects Of Overprotection And Affective Deficiencies

However, learned helplessness negatively affects children’s motivation. There are some factors that can aggravate this situation: overprotection is a possible example. Overprotecting a child means doing things for him that he can do for himself.

An overprotective environment leaves no room for that to happen. But it should be pointed out that learned helplessness can also derive from a situation opposite to overprotection: loneliness and great emotional deprivation produce helplessness and disorientation.

In this article, we have alluded to an aspect as relevant as the lack of initiative. And, also, avoidance. The child may flee from a fearful situation rather than face it. Actions, both by their presence and by their absence, are especially visible in human language. But beyond actions, there is information that is not perceived in the same way and that, however, is very relevant in this context: limiting beliefs .

Beliefs That Fuel Learned Helplessness

Beliefs such as “I can’t”, “it is impossible”, “I am not capable” or “why am I going to try it” describe some of the messages that the child repeats. They are beliefs that, due to their message and the tone in which they are transmitted, generate demotivation. They make the child stay in the same position . In turn, these types of beliefs position the person on the plane of guilt and low self-esteem.

Vulnerability is inherent in human nature, but so is strength. Those who suffer from this circumstance perceive themselves, and their abilities, from the prism of negativity.

A Learned Behavior That Can Be Modified

This vision produces suffering, although it should be pointed out that this psychological state can be overcome with specialized help.

The term helplessness is linked, in this case, to the learned word. This implies that said behavior has been acquired in this way. This is a learned behavior and therefore the child also has the ability to discover alternatives to this repeated pattern. Difficulties are inevitable in childhood, but human beings can find valuable resources to design a coping strategy.