Older Child Babysitting Their Siblings? Stop It Now, According To This Study



Apparently, letting older siblings take care of their younger siblings is not such a great idea after all. According to this report, a Russian psychologist has written about how parents should avoid making their older kids take such a big responsibility at an early age as it hampers their childhood.

Apart from the fact that the elder child may not be able to physically cope with taking care of another child, no matter what the age difference between them be, it is just not right. While it’s OK to let your older child watch over his younger siblings for a few minutes, trusting him to take care of the younger tot for the day is a bit too much to expect.

  • The smaller the age difference between the kids, the worse it is to let the elder sibling take care of the younger one.

    A 7-year-old cannot protect a 5-year-old from engaging in dangerous behavior. And sometimes they might even facilitate it happening. It’s not usually with an intention of harming the younger one. It’s just that the older child himself is not mature enough to know or act better.

    I remember when I was a kid, for almost a week my parents let my elder brother babysit me. He was 7 years elder to me. We weren’t very pally then. However, one day we decided to have some fun together. We put some soap powder all across our living room and blocked all water outlets. Then we poured a couple of buckets full of water on the floor and started skating around on the soapy floor. Yes. Bad idea. It didn’t take longer than a couple of rounds for me to slip and hit my forehead on the center table. 

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  • Luckily for us, our neighbors were at home. My brother rushed out to call out for them. In the evening when my mum came home, there I was with four stitches on my forehead. That was the last time my mum let my brother babysit me.

    When an accident of this sort happens, one can't really blame the older child. He is just another child, only slightly older than your younger bub. Expecting him to be responsible enough to take care of another little human is a bit too much, especially so if he is being forced to take care of his younger sibling. We need to evaluate our kids’ abilities and interests realistically.

  • When asking your older child to babysit his sibling, just keep in mind that:

    Helping out is fine: Of course, it is acceptable to expect your children to help you out with chores. However, taking care of a child can’t be a "chore," especially in your absence, you can entrust another child with.

    Age matters: Is your older child mature enough to provide basic first aid to your younger child in case of a freak accident? Is he old and sorted enough to know what to do in case of an emergency? Is he old enough to not be the cause of an emergency? Ensure that all the answers are in the affirmative before you let him babysit his sibling.

    Never forcibly make him babysit: It should not be a burden for your older child. Also, avoid facing him to take responsibility especially if the age difference between the siblings is not much.

  • There’s a huge difference between having them help you by doing the dishes or making them responsible for the daily care of a child.

    There is also a difference between expecting them to help and they offering their help by their own accord. Respect that.

    This article was republished with permission from theAsianParent.

    theAsianparent is a publication under Tickled Media Pte Ltd. Started in September 2009, it is the largest parenting website in Southeast Asia, targeted at urban parents and parents-to-be who live in Asia or are of Asian heritage. theAsianparent speaks to every stage and priority of an Asian mom’s journey – from pre-conception to pregnancy, to breastfeeding, and even how to raise smart, strong and kind children.