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 okay to let your older child watch over his younger siblings for a few minutes, however trusting him to take care of the younger tot for the day is a bit too much to expect.
Lesser the age difference between the kids, worse it is to let the elder sibling take care of the younger one. A seven-year-old cannot protect a five-year-old from engaging in dangerous behaviour. And sometimes they might even facilitate it happening. It’s not usually with the intention of harming the younger one. It’s just that the elder 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 seven 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 pour 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 centre table. Luckily for us, our neighbours 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.
Luckily for us, our neighbours 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 elder 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 harsh, especially so if he is being forced to take care of his younger sibling. We need to evaluate our kids’ abilities and interest realistically. When asking your elder 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 elder 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 elder child. Also, avoid facing him to take the 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 fixing a sandwich and 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.
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