10 Reasons Older Siblings Can Be Terrible Sitters
December 19th, 2011 by admin
It seems only natural for older siblings to be given the position of built-in babysitter. After all, they know the family rules and expectations better than any hired babysitter would. However, even though this may seem the ideal situation, it might not necessarily be the best choice. Here are ten things to take into consideration before bestowing that mantle of responsibility upon the eldest child:
- Power – Power struggles can develop, especially when siblings are relatively close in age. There is a saying, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” Older siblings may abuse their sense of power over their younger ones, which in turn can result in rebellion on the younger siblings’ part and a general breakdown of order.
- Following House Rules – Ideally, house rules will be followed while parents are absent, however, there is always the child who feels he or she can improve upon those rules by making them more stringent since Mom and Dad are not around. On the opposite end of the scale is the child who didn’t like the rules anyway and allows anarchy to take over.
- Teasing – Teasing can quickly grow from being a mere irritation to real torture. Siblings often tease each other, but in a situation in which there is no adult supervision teasing can easily get out of hand.
- Rejection – Some older children may not want to be bothered with watching a younger brother or sister. They may agree to the job, but when the parents are gone, so is any interest in what the younger children may be doing.
- Bullying – Once the parents are gone, a sibling who has a tendency to bully may pull the stops out.
- Electronic babysitting – In this age of technology even parents resort to the electronic babysitters: television and video games, so older siblings may to make use of this convenience. Unmonitored viewing or video gaming opens the way for children to witness things they shouldn’t see.
- Frustration – Older siblings can become frustrated with younger children acting out or being uncooperative and may not have the skills to cope with their frustration.
- Fear of being alone – Not everyone is okay with being alone, including some adults. Though technically the older child is not alone, the anxiety of being the responsible one added to the fear of being without adult protection can put a lot of unnecessary stress on him or her.
- Communication issues – Parents often comment on how their children don’t listen when they say something, but seem to pay attention when someone else says the same thing. Depending on the age differential, that lack of communication can be an even greater problem between siblings.
- Abuse – Sibling abuse often goes unrecognized, since most parents understand it is normal for siblings to quarrel and have conflicts. However, if one child is always the victim and the other always the aggressor, it’s time to take action. A 2005 study showed that 35 out of 100 children are victims of sibling abuse. Unfortunately, it may not be so easy for parents to distinguish sibling rivalry from abuse, especially since the abuse will most likely occur when parents are absent.
Having older siblings babysit can be a financially smart move, especially in this economy. Certainly there are perks to having a “built-in babysitter;” at the same time, parents need to be aware of possible pit falls. It is important to teach all children responsibility and to help siblings learn to watch over and respect one another; however, placing a child in a position of responsibility that he or she is not mature or committed enough to handle can have lasting negative effects on everyone.
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