Ever wonder why your 8 year old can’t seem to learn from his mistakes when you tell him over and over again how he’s done something wrong?

It may be because their brains simply don’t react to negative feedback as teens’ and adults’ brains do. So says recent research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Eight-year-old children have a radically different learning strategy from twelve-year-olds and adults. Eight-year-olds learn primarily from positive feedback (‘Well done!’), whereas negative feedback (‘Got it wrong this time’) scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring. Twelve-year-olds are better able to process negative feedback, and use it to learn from their mistakes. Adults do the same, but more efficiently.

The researcher can’t say whether this is simply a function of the brain’s development itself, or a child’s experience and learning over the years (e.g., an 8 year old has significant less experience and knowledge than a 13 year old).

However, it’s valuable knowledge to understand that an 8- or 10-year-old brain might not be in the same place as an older child. And that negative feedback isn’t going to really start kicking in or working well in a child of that age until they hit age 12 or so. And of course, a study like this isn’t widely generalizable — your child may start responding to negative feedback at 10 or 9, and someone else’s child may not respond until 15 or 16.

Read the full article: Learning From Mistakes Only Works After Age 12, Study Suggests



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 4 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Sep 2008
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Why Your Eight Year Old Might Not Learn From His Mistakes. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/09/29/why-your-eight-year-old-might-not-learn-from-his-mistakes/


Recent Comments
  • mianvi: Its just nice to have a reason why these things happen, Its not by coincidence we end up with people we end...
  • A: I’ve had my fair share of abusive relationships. The past four months I’ve been dating someone new. He...
  • Amanda-Beth: I am glad my dad treated Santa as make believe story not that gave him choice after my mother decided to...
  • So so sad: Hi again Rationaliser, Thanks so much for your reply. Really helps to hear from you. I hope things are...
  • manxcatwoman: This article is on the front page of psychcentral. Would it be acceptable for one member to call...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code