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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards.

I think I've mentioned before that Mrs. Chief Instructor is a 5th grade teacher.  Even though she works at a private religious school, they still get influenced by the goings-on in government schools.

You know, like restrictions on competitive activities during recess.  Football, basketball - even tetherball, for Gods sake.  Dodgeball is considered a mortal sin.  Anything where someone wins and someone else loses is verboten.  Only organized, after-school teams are allowed to compete.

We've got 'helicopter moms' to make sure that Bobby or Suzie have the socially proscribed number of 'play dates' each week.  We've got parents - even those who pay out of their own pockets to send their kids to private schools - doing their kids homework.  Every second of their lives is monitored, metered and rewarded with the obligatory, "Good job!" ** for the slightest "accomplishment".

Everyone has equal outcomes.  No one is allowed to excel nor fail.  The seed of "self" is never allowed to germinate.  Peace, love and social conformity dope.

Like the government schools, the big topic of the past few years has been bullying.  No form of aggressive behavior, thought or speech is quartered.  This includes pictures of aggressive inanimate objects (how do you like THAT oxymoron?), like guns or tanks or fighter jets.  We wouldn't want someone to feel uncomfortable because of a picture.

Through all of this process - making parents and government school administrators the 24/7 protectors of our children - we're not allowing our kid the chance to learn how to be independent.  In fact, just the opposite:  We're teaching them how to only be dependent.

As a result, we're producing a nation of frail, brittle, untempered children who break easily.

A while back, a 12 year old girl committed suicide over bullying.

When this became public, I said to my wife, "This girl isn't dead because of the bullies, but because of her parents and the government schools."

Yeah, that got a reaction.

If she was a typical, government school "educated" child, she was never given the opportunity to learn the skills needed to deal with the assholes she'd encounter in her life.  She's had this imaginary force field around her to protect her from harm.  Real life is full of real bullies, and thinking your child won't be exposed to them - just because you wish it so - is a fantasy.

Bullying laws are the "gun free zones" of government education.  Write a law, look really serious about it, and give those being "protected" a false sense of security.  In actuality, you're doing nothing more than removing the tools the victims need to defend themselves.

We are truly teaching them helplessness.  Whenever there's a problem, run to mommy, daddy or some component of Uncle Sugar, and we'll fix it for you.  It's the polar opposite of what we're supposed to be teaching our kids:  self-reliance.

I'd bet a pile of money that the parents of this girl were the, "Good Job!" kind of folks.  Why?  Because this thing had been going on for nearly a year, and little had been done.  It seems as though it had escalated beyond the, "sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me," phase, and was outside of the skill set of a typical 12 year old, so the parents put her in another school.  A great first step.

But apparently, it was their only step.  Why didn't the parents use the legal system to sue the abuser AND HER PARENTS for libel?  How about a restraining order regarding posts and other contact until it had been adjudicated?

No.  They kept allowing the crap to continue, and now their daughter is dead at her own hands.  The daughter - and apparently the parents - have been socially conditioned to keep taking the punishment until someone else fixes the problem.

Don't be aggressive in your self-defense.  Don't take the initiative.  Wait for someone else to fix your problem because that's what you've been taught.

Their daughter is dead because no one showed her how to deal with crappy situations.  How to develop the attitude and skills of, "I'm not going to allow you to push me around anymore."  Her only perceived option for stopping the pain was to take her own life.

Since the girl's death, the police have now arrested two girls for 'aggravated stalking', and the mother of one of the girls was arrested for a video posted to Youtube of her beating one of her other kids.

Too bad the dead girl's parents didn't ACT earlier and bring this band of psychos to the attention of the authorities.

When my kids were younger, the schools they attended all had the, "no fighting" rules.  Even for self-defense.  I made it crystal clear to my kids that if they were ever attacked, they could - should - defend themselves - school rules be damned.  Tell them, "My dad said it was OK."  I'd take whatever heat the school officials handed out, and if it meant moving them to another school, so be it.

Victimhood has never been allowed in my household.

On the flip-side, they knew equally as clearly that if they were picking on someone, it would not be tolerated.  Their punishment would be both swift and enduring.  (No, I'm not talking about beating my kids.  Previously earned freedoms, sports participation, TV, video games, etc., would be revoked.  Yard work, toilet cleaning, etc., would fill their non-scholastic waking hours.)

Consequences - good and bad - are a direct result of your actions and choices.  They understood that then, and (knock on wood) still understand it now that they're out on their own.

** This past weekend, I was picking up my new hunting license and some wild pig tags at a local sporting goods store.  A father and his son - I'd guess 12 or 13 years old - walk into the store.  Dad asks why there was no garbage can out front.  The clerk explained that punks kept tipping it over, so it was moved inside.  It was behind the counter, and I was standing between the kid and the can.  I saw the kid had a crumpled up piece of paper in his hand, so I stepped back so he could toss it into the can.  He did so, from a staggering distance of, oh, 2 feet.  In to the can goes the paper, and the proud papa gives him the, "Good Job!" praise.  Seriously, I wanted to scream.  Your kid is so emotionally fragile that you must praise him when he throws garbage into the can? At age 13?!?!  We're so screwed.

Accept The Challenge

Look what this Learned Helplessness has wrought.  Able bodied "kids" living at home into their 30's, a "take care of me" welfare state, droves of kids taking their own lives because they have no idea how to deal with the bumps inherent in life outside of the force field.  They have no survival mechanism.

I strongly believe that the role of a parent is to prepare your kids to be out on their own.  To teach them what real accomplishment is, not this idea of, "Trying your best is all that matters," and everyone who participates gets a trophy.  To let them fail and learn from the experience.

Aside from it being the right thing to do, if you were a new parent, think how this type attitude would set your children apart from the scores of drones in their midst.  Teach them independence by allowing them to have independent actions.  Don't micro-manage every aspect of their lives.  Richly reward them with earned praise.  Teach them how to win.  And above all, counter the Learned Helplessness beamed into their lives through government schools, government programs, and compliant media.

Bless them with the skills to thrive independently.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Adam said...

All excellent points. I was talking about this yesterday with my fiance. Luckily we both have the same mentality regarding praise and the lack of kids learning how to fail.

Some of the best things I ever learned was how to fail. It allowed me to adapt and overcome. Plus, bullying, while it sucks, gives you the knowledge that life isn't fair and you have to be willing and able to adapt and overcome to succeed.

No one will (or should) give you anything in life. You have to earn it.

Chief Instructor said...

No one will (or should) give you anything in life. You have to earn it.

And when you don't earn it, it really has no value. Look at public housing. Virtually every compound is run-down and crime-ridden. Many homeowners will no longer rent to Section 8 people, because they trash the joint.

Why? Because they have no, "skin in the game". They didn't have to earn the money to acquire the asset (a place to live), so they have no incentive to maintain the asset.

Swap "place to live" with, education, cell phone, clothing, food stamps and you get the same result. Break it, and you'll get more - no harm, no foul.

What the Marxist/helicopter moms, et al don't understand is there IS harm. Both to the individual and society at large.