If you are the parent of multiple children, you have probably asked your older child to help you from time to time. Whether it’s setting the table, loading the dishwasher, or entertaining the family baby for a few hours. When a second child arrives, many responsibilities are passed on to the first born more often than we imagine, this includes babysitting her with her younger siblings.

5 reasons why kids shouldn’t be babysitters

Your older son or daughter might find it natural to see for their younger siblings when you need a break, but forcing them to babysit is not the best idea. Here are five reasons why children shouldn’t babysit their younger siblings.

1. Age and maturity are important

Some places have minimum age requirements to leave your child at home unattended. In places that do not have age requirements, assessing the level of maturity is even more important. Even if your child is old enough to be only with younger siblings, make sure they are mature enough and prepared enough to handle it, especially if an accident occurs.

2. Your son or daughter should not act like another parent

Asking your older daughter or son to help out around the house or help their younger siblings is perfectly normal. But there is a line. Your child should not be helping so much that he is acting like another parent. If you are leaving younger siblings in the care of your elder several times a week, you could be putting too much pressure on him or her.

3. Too much responsibility

There is such a thing as too much responsibility. All parents can agree that it is important to teach your child to be responsible. But if you constantly force him to watch or care for his younger siblings, you are causing them to lose something that is extremely important: being a child. Forcing your child to see for his siblings on a regular basis can end up causing resentment, especially if they are wasting fun time with friends because of it.

4. They need to know that their opinion matters.

If your 14-year-old daughter is a natural caregiver and loves taking care of her younger siblings, she probably won’t mind much when you need a night’s rest. However, forcing her to babysit can cause a number of problems. Your son or daughter should know that their opinion is important. Ask him how he feels taking care of his younger siblings. Ask her if she feels ready or prepared to handle any situation that may occur. Give them a choice in the matter rather than forcing responsibility on them.

5. It is ultimately your responsibility

It is important to remember that your older children are not to blame for why their parents decided to have more children. Older siblings can help, and should, but ultimately the responsibility rests with you as parents. Your older children are not responsible in any way for your younger children. Don’t forget that older siblings still need love and attention, even after the baby of the family comes. Your children only have a short time to be children. Make sure that you are allowing them to enjoy their childhood.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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