Back in the early 1990s, psychologist Suzanne Gaskins was living in a small Maya village near Valladolid, Yucatán, when she struck up a conversation with two sisters, ages 7 and 9.
The girls started telling her — with great pride — about all the chores they did after school. “I wash my own clothes,” the 7-year-old said. The older sister then one-upped her and declared, “I wash my clothes and my baby brother’s clothes.”
Gaskins was so impressed by the girls’ enthusiasm for helping around the house that she started to study how kids in the village spend their time. She quickly realized that the young kids not only made big contributions to household chores, but also that they often did so without being told. In fact, many times, helping out was their idea.
In one study, psychologist Barbara Rogoff and her colleagues interviewed moms in Guadalajara, Mexico, who had indigenous ancestry. The researchers asked the moms what their children, who were all between the ages of 6 and 8, do to help around the house and how often they do these tasks voluntarily.
The study — published in 2014 — contains some of the most remarkable quotes I have ever seen in a research article.
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