The Secret to Successful Sibling Sitting

Do you leave your older child home to watch a younger brother or sister? Sibling babysitting can be a great way to help an older child handle more responsibility and develop confidence, but it could be a disaster in the making if handled badly. As a parent, you can do a lot to enable your older child to succeed at being left in charge.

To begin with, enroll your older child in a babysitting course. At Safe Sitter®, many of the children that take our classes don’t regularly babysit outside the home. However, watching younger brothers and sisters is still babysitting, and your older child could really benefit from learning techniques for handling problem behavior, along with injury prevention, safety skills, and first aid.

Tips to Ensure a Successful Sibling Sitting Arrangement

  • Pay your older child. Treat sibling sitting as a job that you take seriously, and it’s likely that your older child will too.
  • Work out the details in advance: What date and time do you need the older child to babysit? When are you leaving the house? When will you return?
  • Make arrangements for dinner before you leave. Your older child should be focused on watching the younger children, not cooking, cleaning, or doing other chores.
  • Plan something fun for them to do: Rent a family movie that everyone has been waiting to see, or arrange for another fun activity all ages will enjoy. That way the younger children will look forward to their older sibling supervising them for the evening, instead of dreading it.
  • Remind everyone of house rules, including rules for the use of television, computers, and personal electronic devices like phones and tablets.
  • Make it clear that the older child is in charge. Younger children need to hear directly from you that the older child is in charge and that the family rules must be followed.

Finally, remember that your older child shouldn’t be expected to cancel their own plans to babysit. Remember that every sitter has the right to decline a job.