PSYCHOLOGY

Should Older Kids Be Allowed To Babysit Younger Ones? Parents And Psychologists Share Their Opinions

January 30, 2019 10:13

After a second child appears in the family, the first-born child often becomes a mini-babysitter. Moreover, sometimes these kids even don’t have a choice.

So, what if you are only 6 years old and you are already made to look after your younger sibling? You want to play with your peers, but all you are left with is your newborn brother or sister. Sound familiar, dear parents?

When parents are asked if they trust an older child to look after the younger one, in most cases, the answer is in the affirmative. They will claim there is no better help than a family member.

However, psychologists believe that in a normal family, parents should always remain parents, and children (no matter how old) stay children, not babysitters.

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In what situations can you ask an older child for help?

It is quite normal when parents ask first-born kids for help. However, it is only recommended if it doesn’t turn their life into a burdensome responsibility.

It's okay that you ask your older child to take a walk with a stroller or pick up a sibling from kindergarten.

First-born children must be at least 5-6 years older before you can trust them.

At the same time, older children aren’t obliged to spend all their free time with their younger siblings. Moreover, sometimes it can be dangerous!

5 reasons why an older child shouldn’t be a babysitter

  1. The firstborn simply can’t cope with the appropriate care of another, more so if the age difference isn’t big.
  2. Small babysitters can accidentally harm their younger siblings.
  3. Being a nanny is a real job that should be performed only voluntarily and for a certain reward. In addition, every kid must have a chance to have a real childhood!
  4. Older children shouldn’t be blamed that you have given birth to another child. Whether you like it or not, babysitting is the parents’ direct responsibility.
  5. Many first-borns, who were stressed by worries about looking after younger ones, don’t want to become parents in the future, as they are sure that children are an unbearable burden.

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What parents' thoughts are on the matter

Would you trust your eldest child to look after a younger one? This is what moms think about it:

@junara:

I leave the elder to look after the younger (7 and 2). However, I don’t risk to leave them alone in the bathroom. Recently there has been an incident in our city when a 1.5-year-old child drowned in a bathroom under the supervision of an older sister.

@sweetanok:

I can leave them alone for 5 minutes while I'm in the toilet. The older one doesn’t understand many peculiarities of child care.

@Mary-Lea:

Once, I had to leave a 6-year-old senior and a 5-year-old second child with a six-month-old third one. Eventually, there were a lot of tears from the elder one because of lack of experience of how and what to do.

How to ask an older child for help: Advice from a psychologist

  1. If you ask the firstborn to babysit the younger one, be sure to compensate such work with a small amount of money or gift.
  2. If the help of the firstborn isn’t rewarded with money and is presented as a household chore, discuss with the children the time when they will help you.

In general, moms and dads shouldn’t forget that they give birth to a child for themselves, and not for grandparents or older siblings. Only parents should be responsible for their children!

What do you think? Is the situation the same in your family? Share your experience in the comments!

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The material in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist.