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Building Resiliency in Children: Karma Completions

Building Resiliency in Children

I am a perfectionist.

As a child, I would wake up obscenely early on Saturday mornings to watch a drawing tutorial show.

The show’s target audience was grown adults. This wasn’t a show meant to teach seven-year-olds how to draw. But there I was sitting cross-legged in front of the TV with my paper and pencil, doing my best.

One morning, the drawing was an owl in flight. The intricate feathers and the fact that the bird was in motion made it particularly difficult. I made one mistake and was furiously erasing as the instructor on the TV moved on to the next step, and the next, as I fell further and further behind.

7-year-old Riley had a minor (ok, major) meltdown.

From then on, my mom recorded the episodes on the VCR so that I could pause whenever I wanted. And I even still have one of my drawings from that show!

Do any of your kids freak out like I did when they fail?

Kids often have strong emotional reactions to failure, even failures that seem small to us, like messing up a drawing.

Identifying and managing your feelings, or Emotion Regulation, requires the ability to respond to strong emotional situations in a socially acceptable manner. Making a mistake, especially when we have been working hard on something, can cause strong emotions. So it’s important that we build resiliency in children by teaching them how to react and move forward positively from both small and big mistakes. Mistakes can often be a starting point for even better ideas!

In this exercise, Zoo U’s Karma the Chameleon started several doodles, but gave up when she thought she made a mistake. Students must use their imagination to turn the “mistakes” into art by completing Karma’s drawings. It’s a great opportunity to discuss how mistakes can often lead to something greater than our original plan.

Students will: Discuss the emotions related to making mistakes and think critically to create drawings from abstract lines and shapes.

Materials: Karma Completions worksheet , markers, crayons or colored pencils


  1. How does it feel when you make a mistake on something you’ve been working hard on?
  2. What are some things we can do when we get upset about our mistakes?
  3. Can mistakes ever be a good thing?


  1. Tell students that sometimes what we think is a mistake can help us come up with ideas that are better than our original plan.
  2. On the worksheet, Karma started a doodle in each square, but gave up when she thought she messed up. Students should complete each drawing using the line or shape that is already there.
  3. When students are done, have them compare their drawings. Discuss how they all started with the same “mistakes,” but came up with unique ways of turning them into something great!
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