When their first kid becomes mature enough, most parents can finally breathe a sigh of relief — besides helping around the house, they can also occasionally look after the younger children in the household and give their parents some free time. But, it turns out, it’s not always good to make them caregivers for their siblings, since this can lead to some negative results.
You’re giving them too much responsibility.
Of course, taking some responsibility won’t do any harm to your older kids. But there’s a big difference between having your teenager keep an eye on your toddler while you are cooking dinner and having them care for their siblings for hours without your supervision.
If your child is okay with that, then there’s no problem. But pretty often the older kid just doesn’t have a choice other than to grow up in order to “be in charge,” and, consequently, this task turns into an unwanted burden for them. There should always be a line. Your child should not be helping so much that they are acting as another parent.
Also don’t forget that, no matter how mature your kids might behave, they are still kids, and they are not ready to take on a whole lot of responsibility. They’re not able to handle some situations, and if an accident happens, the guilt will always weigh heavy on them.
They are not professionals.
Older children can be used as a very convenient nanny source, if parents can’t afford professional caregivers. But, in this case, you shouldn’t expect the same level of devotion and professionalism from them. Being kids themselves, teenagers haven’t been trained to change diapers, and they don’t know how to feed babies properly or how to react to a toddler’s tantrum.
While having older kids help is nearly unavoidable in large families, you should make sure that the tasks your older child does are chosen according to their age — they can help around the house, read to their siblings before bed, play with them for a couple of hours, and do similar simple things.
They sacrifice their own childhood.
An only child in a family has way fewer obligations than a child with younger siblings. After doing their regular tasks, like cleaning their room or doing homework, they can go outside to play with their friends, watch a favorite movie, or do whatever they want. But those kids with younger siblings can’t get time to themselves very easily.
For older children, there’s always someone to look after, someone to help, and someone to play with. And parents often make them drop their typical teenage activities just because they need some help.
However, it’s important for your kids to maintain their own childhood and have fun instead of changing diapers, helping to potty train, checking homework, and so on. So letting kids be kids while they can would probably be the best option for everybody.
You can make your kids’ relationship with each other worse.
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 might start experiencing negative feelings toward their little brothers and sisters.
Besides that, when they’re left alone with their siblings, older kids have to play an authoritative role, which the youngsters don’t always accept and respect. This could cause problems between them and lead to arguments and even fights.
This is not their job.
Parents often expect their older children to babysit for free, believing that it’s just one of their ordinary chores. But most teens and tweens don’t agree with that. They see that professional babysitters get paid for the same activities they do, and it doesn’t seem fair to them.
If you’re going to use your children as babysitters for their siblings occasionally, then there’s no need to talk about money. But if babysitting is a regular event for them and it takes up a huge chunk of their life, it’s best to work out some sort of compensation.
It doesn’t have to be about money after all. You can let them use your car, if they’re old enough, give them some additional privileges, or buy them a desired item. Just make sure that their work is appreciated.