Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

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Joey’s Scenario

In this scenario, I observed a four-year-old child, Joey, painting on another child’s work in the art center. After his peers became upset with his action and were rude to him, he started crying and isolated himself in a corner, refusing to speak to anyone. He claimed there was no paper left for him to draw. My immediate actions in this situation are to first make sure no other children are negatively engaging with him, asking them to step away as necessary. Then I should approach him, try to calm him down and try to direct his attention to a different activity. Once Joey is calm, I should explain that the other child did not mean it when she said that they do not want him here: she is upset because he ruined her painting. That made her feel bad, and it would probably make him upset if someone drew on his painting without asking for permission first.

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Joey’s problem is two-fold: typical for a child his age, he has difficulty with emotional regulation and empathy. His outburst can be attributed to a lack of effortful control while drawing on another child’s painting can be explained by his limited empathy (Arnett, 2016). To help Joey develop these skills, I can draw attention to the other child’s reaction, once again reminding him that she was upset by Joey’s action, not her general dislike of him. I can also suggest that the other children will make friends with him if he asks. At home, his parents should encourage Joey to participate in group activities.

Follow-up Letter

Joey is a fine student. He performs well in the classroom, but has not made any friends yet, and generally does not interact with other students. Today, he had an incident. After drawing a painting at the art center, he got carried away and started drawing on another child’s paper. This led to a conflict between the two children, which left Joey crying. To resolve the conflict and help Joey get to know the other children, I explained to him that touching others’ things without permission is not nice. I also pointed out that the other kids will play with him if he apologizes and asks.

I suggest you encourage Joey to participate in more group activities to help him become more social. At the same time, you can provide positive examples for him to model his behavior (Bredekamp, 2017). For example, if he draws at home, ask if you can join him and draw something together. Furthermore, you can help him learn to cope with his emotions by talking through any outbursts he has and explaining what is happening. This will help him develop socio-emotional skills, overcome his shyness, and make more friends.

I will continue to observe Joey in the classroom and guide him towards interacting with other students more. Please let me know if he likes playing together at home and how he joins or starts any group activities. I will contact you again in two weeks to let you know if there are any changes in his behavior with other students.

Olivia’s Scenario

I observed Olivia act aggressively and overstep another student’s boundaries. While playing a card game with other children, she grabbed all the cards another child was holding. After the other tried to take the cards back, Olivia yelled at the student about being “the princess,” took the cards, hit him, and walked away. She returned the cards, apologized, and helped me check if the other child was in pain after I asked her to. Then, I talked to her about the importance of sharing and following rules when playing games. She did not seem interested in the conversation but agreed to “be nicer” in the future.

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I will try to involve Olivia in more cooperative and collaborative activities that involve sharing. I will also act as an example on which she can model her behavior by demonstrating positive sharing behavior where possible. Furthermore, I will ensure that Olivia has opportunities to share with other students and appropriately reward her when she does. Finally, I will continue talking to her about why sharing and cooperating with others is important.

I suggest similar steps to be taken at home: ensure that Olivia’s environment encourages sharing. Furthermore, she can develop empathy better if she sees the negative effects of her actions. For example, parents can offer her to choose how to distribute a bag of treats and act visibly upset if she decides to keep most or all to herself. Finally, it is important to talk to her and explain how one’s actions can positively and negatively affect others.

Follow-up Letter

Olivia’s classroom behavior is positive, but she has difficulty interacting with other children. She often ignores or disregards them, almost invariably putting her wishes above those of the others. Although this is not unexpected for a child her age, she needs to help develop the appropriate socio-emotional skills, particularly empathy. After the incident with the cards, I drew her attention to the negative consequences of her actions and spent some time talking to her about her actions and how they can hurt others.

To help her become more empathetic, Olivia’s home environment needs to offer her opportunities to learn. These should include clear demonstrations of both positive and negative effects of her behavior on others. As sharing seems to be a particular problem, parents should make a point of sharing things and show that they appreciate it — and conversely, upset when someone refuses to share things fairly. Furthermore, logical consequences can be used as a teaching instrument (Kaiser & Rasminsky, 2017). These can be viewed as guiding the child towards fixing the negative consequences of her actions. I also suggest using her “princess” outburst as leverage by telling her stories where royal characters demonstrate empathetic behavior.

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In two weeks, we should discuss Olivia’s response to the new teaching methods and whether her behavior changed during that time. I will also monitor her classroom behavior and inform the parents of any progress or incidents with other students.


Arnett, J. J. (2016). Human development: A cultural approach (2nd ed.). Pearson.

Bredekamp, S. (2017). Effective practices in early childhood education: Building a foundation (3rd ed.). Pearson

Kaiser, B., & Rasminsky, J. S. (2017). Challenging behavior in young children: Understanding, preventing, and responding effectively (4th ed.). Pearson.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 14). Mistakes as Learning Opportunities. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/


PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 14). Mistakes as Learning Opportunities. https://psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/

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"Mistakes as Learning Opportunities." PsychologyWriting, 14 June 2022, psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/.


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Mistakes as Learning Opportunities'. 14 June.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Mistakes as Learning Opportunities." June 14, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Mistakes as Learning Opportunities." June 14, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/.


PsychologyWriting. "Mistakes as Learning Opportunities." June 14, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/mistakes-as-learning-opportunities/.