Researchers from the Netherlands found that children younger than the age of 12 haven't developed brain pathways that would help them to learn well from mistakes.
Excerpt from the Science Daily article:
"In children of eight and nine, these areas of the brain react strongly to positive feedback and scarcely respond at all to negative feedback. But in children of 12 and 13, and also in adults, the opposite is the case. Their 'control centres' in the brain are more strongly activated by negative feedback and much less by positive feedback."
Exceptions certainly abound, as we assess many young children who are able to learn efficiently from their mistakes - but they are not the majority. The observations of this study are interesting, and could have significant implications for parents and teachers alike. Young children who transgress rules or struggle in school subjects are commonly scolded for a failure to learn from mistakes - but perhaps the problem may be in our developmentally-inappropriate expectations?
Science Daily: Children don't learn from mistakes until after 12
Learning from Positive and Negative Feedback fMRI pdf