- Created on Monday, 25 June 2012
- Written by Anna Mitchell
- Hits: 415
Our early experiences in sport have a huge impact on our attitudes towards sport and competition as an adult. When encouraged to challenge ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zone to explore our potential as an athlete, we expose ourselves to the interpretation of what follows. Our attitudes and efforts to continue depend on how we attribute the events that occur once we are out there.
In particular there are three types of beliefs that help us make sense of events in our lives:
· Stable or unstable cause
· : If we believe that events are caused by factors which do not change, we assume that it is not worth us trying to change them. So if I believe my success is based on an unchangeable ability, it will seem that it is not worth my trying to improve myself.
· Internal or External cause
· : We can believe that events are caused by ourselves or something outside of ourselves. If I assume the team lost because of my performance I will be less likely to sign up for team sports in the future.
· Global or Specific cause
· : If we believe that events are caused by a large number of factors then we feel we can do less to change things than if we see few and specific causes.
· For example, if I feel that my performance suffered because a whole lot of factors such as my horse was lame, my usual help couldn't make it, I didn't ride as well as I wanted to, the cows were terrible, the ground was slick, and the judge doesn't like me, then I am more likely to feel overwhelmed and give up. If I feel like I did not perform well just because the cows were rotten, then I am more likely to keep trying.
When we are kids, we learn how much control we have over the outcome by our experiences in sport and play. If we let our kids win all the time, then they quickly learn that level of effort has nothing to do with winning and they will probably lose interest. This misdirected act of kindness also sets them up for disappointments in the future when they learn that in life people don't let you win all the time. If s/he did not learn to associate winning with effort and perseverance, then losing is going to be a lot harder to accept because s/he can't make sense of what happened or how to avoid it next time.
Alternatively, the tough love parents that refuse to let their kids win ever could be creating a sense of learned helplessness. Obviously in a parent/toddler foot race, the parent can win every time due to the simple physiological inequality. If they do, however, the child soon learns that no matter how hard I try I cannot win. If the child believes he can never win, then pretty soon he quits trying. So instead of teaching them how to win, we are teaching them how to quit.
The trick is to find a healthy balance. Encourage your child to challenge themselves with difficult yet possible tasks. Support them when they fail and celebrate with them when they succeed, but most importantly, let them own their experiences.
Now take a look inside. How easily do you give up? Do you tend to lose interest and motivation when you face an obstacle or do you try harder? Think about the messages you received as a child and ask yourself if they could be effecting the way you approach your sport, work, or relationships today.