Learned Helplessness and It’s Effect on Kids and Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Jul 05

Don't let learned helplessness stop your child

Have you heard about the experiment psychologists did in the 60s?

They took dogs and exposed them to a shock. One group of the dogs could move away.

The other group had to tolerate the shock. They were tied up and not allowed to move (cruel, I know).

After a period of time, the group that was tied up was released so that they could move. But guess what…?

They did not. Even though they could move, they chose to stay put.

This trait is called learned helplessness.

I noticed it first with two of my dogs; Art and Kira.We would frequently play catch and fetch.

Kira was faster and more aggressive. But Art was my favorite and I would throw the ball to him. After a few times of having Kira take the ball away, he would not go after it. Even if he was really close, he wouldn’t try to get the ball.

It got to the point where I would take them out separately so he could have fun and exercise.

I think about this when I watch kids play sports. The bigger, faster, stronger kids get more time, more experience and more success.

The other kids tend to sit and watch.

Heck, even professional athletes tend to do it. Remember how they would stand and watch Michael Jordan?

This is one reason I feel that kids need to work on basic athletic skills just to have a chance in youth sports and soccer. If they don’t have the skills, most kids won’t put the effort into gaining them on their own.

They need help and time to practice gaining strength and speed.

Think about this, the next time you watch your child try and fail going for the ball.

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