Magazine article Work & Family Life

When Older Kids Are Sitters for Siblings

Magazine article Work & Family Life

When Older Kids Are Sitters for Siblings

Article excerpt

Q

My 14-year-old daughter enjoys babysitting for other families but when she watches her 11-year-old brother, I usually come home to an argument. Any suggestions?

-CP, Lansing, MI

A

Using a sibling as a sitter may work out better if you do it on an occasional rather than a regular basis. Setting up one child as the "boss" and expecting him or her to control and perhaps even "tell on" a sibling is a difficult position to be in. It's even harder and may create resentment when kids are close in age, like yours. Instead of having your daughter as the babysitter, you might want to put both kids in charge of themselves.

In general, parents should be aware that age isn't always an indicator of how responsible kids are. Siblings who engage in a lot of hurtful teasing and fighting should probably not be left alone at all. For parents who are thinking about leaving siblings home together, it's a good time to call a family meeting to discuss how both of your kids feel about this arrangement. Decide on some guidelines. When children have a say in making the rules, they're more likely to accept responsibility for breaking them.

It helps to write out the rules and post them as a reminder. …

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