Learned helplessness is one of the worst psychological states a person can fall into. It refers to the belief that, whatever we do, we cannot change the situation. Therefore, even though we are suffering, we will simply resign ourselves to such mistreatment because we believe that we cannot do anything to end it.
This state blocks in advance any possibility of change or liberation because we think that there is no possible solution. In this way, we suffer in silence and do not even ask for help. In fact, it is a common situation in cases of gender violence, when women not only do nothing to escape the abuser but even justify it and believe that they are to blame.
However, learned helplessness is a state that is acquired from an early age. When parents do not meet the basic needs of their baby or take a long time to respond, an imprint is created in the infant’s brain that will influence the way they perceive themselves and relate to the world.
Arbitrary punishments also lay the foundations for learned helplessness since the child will only understand one message: whatever I do, they will punish me. When rewards and punishments do not depend on the child’s behaviour but on the parents’ state of mind, the little one will not know how to behave or what is expected of him.
These children will be more prone to being bullied and abused in silence, as they believe that nothing they do can change that situation. They normally have low self-esteem and have destroyed their ability to react, overriding their will.
Children need to know that they can trust their parents, that they represent a source of security. To achieve this, it is important that both parents agree with the rewards and punishments that apply at home, which should depend on the behaviour of the child and not on their mood. This also means that the punishment must be appropriate to the offence committed. In this way, the child will grow up feeling that the world is a safe place.
Let them be wrong
Preventing children from making their own mistakes and fixing them is a big mistake. Children need to experience the full range of emotions classified as “negative” in order to develop their own coping resources. If you try to protect them, you deprive them of the ability to persevere and feel competent when they finally get it right. That sense of competence and self-sufficiency empowers them and teaches them that they are the architects of their life. Therefore, they will be less likely to be intimidated or suffer in silence.
Teach them that they deserve and owe respect
Children should grow up in an environment of respect, which not only means that parents should respect each other but also show respect for the child’s decisions and opinions, even if they seem childish. In this way, the little one will develop healthy self-esteem and will immediately detect when others try to violate their rights as a person. Obviously, it is also important that you teach him to respect the rights, opinions and decisions of others.
Enhance conflict resolution skills
An overly paternalistic upbringing, in which parents overprotect their children and solve their problems for them, will only block their abilities. Therefore, it is important for children to know that they can count on their parents and tell them about their problems, but it is also essential to encourage them to seek and apply solutions on their own, especially when it comes to interpersonal conflicts, whether with siblings, cousins or classmates.