Supporting children’s initiative: Appreciating family contributions or paying children for chores


Collaborative initiative is an important aspect of Learning by Observing and Pitching In (LOPI), and many interrelated family and community practices in LOPI may support children's initiative. In this chapter, we examine two cultural ways of supporting children's helpfulness and responsibility that draw on different cultural paradigms for organizing children's participation in everyday work in U.S. Mexican-heritage and European American communities. European American university students reported having received allowances as a contractual enticement to do assigned chores. In contrast, although U.S. Mexican-heritage university students reported having received pocket money from their families, this was as a gift, noncontingent on completed chores or good behavior. They reported that this noncontingent support for children's responsibility focuses children on collaborating with the family, and contributing to shared work with initiative, consistent with LOPI, in which children are integrated in family and community endeavors and are eager to contribute. The chapter challenges traditional dichotomies in motivational theory that attempt to specify the “source” of children's motivation to learn and help within either individuals or social contexts.



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Advances in Child Development and Behavior



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