Why Your Older Kids Shouldn’t Babysit Their Siblings

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You may give your older sibling a hard time for bossing you around or being the favorite, but they handle a lot of responsibilities that younger siblings don’t need to think about. Most parents breathe a sigh of relief when their eldest child is old and mature enough to help out with their siblings. Besides helping around the house, they can also occasionally look after the younger children in the household and give their parents some free time. Although this might come as a saving grace for parents, there are some drawbacks to having your older one play nanny with your little ones. Making them caregivers to your babies may result in some negative effects. Read on to know why your older kids shouldn’t babysit their siblings!

1. You Are Giving Them Too Much Responsibility

You Are Giving Them Too Much Responsibility

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As important as it is to learn how to handle responsibilities is for your older ones, their job is not to take over your responsibilities. There is a huge difference between asking your child to keep an eye on your toddler while you cook dinner and leaving them alone with the toddler for hours on end. If your child doesn’t mind watching their siblings from time to time then that’s okay. But you are not entitled to their help. If they decide that they have other commitments and plans, you don’t get to be upset with them for not being able to look after your child.

The problem is that many older siblings are not given a choice and have to grow up quicker as a consequence because they are “in charge”. This turns out to be an unwanted burden for them. At the end of the day, your child shouldn’t be acting as another parent. If they are, you’re doing something wrong. Because no matter how mature they are, they are still children. They are not equipped to handle stressful emergency situations or accidents. So it’s best not to treat them like an adult in this regard.

2. They Are Not Professionals

They Are Not Professionals

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Chances are that your older child is going to get a million things wrong when you leave them alone with their younger sibling. And can you blame them? Looking after a tiny tot is hard enough for an adult, let alone another child. Most parents use their older kids as a very convenient substitute for a nanny. But you must keep in mind that they are not professionals. They may not know the best way to change diapers, feed the baby or how to deal with them if they throw a tantrum. They’re probably two minutes away from throwing one themselves! So it’s unrealistic to expect the same amount of devotion and expertise that you would a seasoned professional.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting your kids to help out every now and then but make sure the tasks you give them are age appropriate. Instead of directly taking care of their siblings, they can help clean up the house and keep their toys in one space. Let them read to their siblings before bed or play with them in order to get them to fall asleep faster or just keep them occupied.

3. It Can Cause A Strain In Their Sibling Relationship

It Can Cause A Strain In Their Sibling Relationship

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Forcing your older child to watch their siblings on a regular basis can cause them to feel resentment. They might feel that you’re putting too much pressure and stress on them. As a result, they may start experiencing negative emotions towards their little brother or sister. After all, no one wants to be stuck taking care of their younger sibling when they could be off playing like the other kids. Besides, being in charge all the time will force your older child to assume an authoritative role which the younger ones may not always respect or adhere to. This can be very frustrating to your older child as they are expected to act like an adult but are not recognized as one. This can cause fights and lead to arguments between siblings.

4. They Sacrifice Their Own Childhood

They Sacrifice Their Own Childhood

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The eldest sibling often has a long list of tasks to get through the day. Not only do they have to do household chores, do their homework, keep on top of their extra curricular activities, but they also need to help out with their siblings. This doesn’t exactly leave them with any time to relax and play. Kids need time to themselves too. And no matter how much older they are to their siblings, they need to be allowed to be children. To run around, do what they want and make mistakes. Often, older children are made to give up these privileges and that’s not okay.

Having multiple children can be strenuous and exhausting but it was ultimately the parents’ decision to have more than one child. Older kids are not the solution you are looking for. They are kids that need taking care of too. So using them to take care of the younger ones would do more harm than good.

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.