Is it OK for my kids to parent one another?

Question – Is it OK for older kid(s) to parent younger kid(s)?

Scenario 1: older sibling tells younger sibling, “No thank you, that’s not safe” (when it comes to doing something dangerous). This is obviously the older child parenting the younger.  I feel like on some level this is a parenting no-no, but I admit it’s nice to see the older sibling looking out for the younger one.

Esther cryingScenario 2: Big sister saw her baby sisters were fighting over a toy. I wasn’t going to get involved because

1) I would like to them figure this stuff out on their own

2) I was happy sitting back (unless there is blood, I try not to get over-involved)

Big sister looks over at me and says to me, like a Boss, “I’ll take care of this mom.”

She helped her baby sisters problem solve and showed them how the toy breaks apart and they can each take a piece.

I praised big sister for doing a nice job helping her sisters, but again felt like maybe this is a parenting no-no. Should big sister be the one to step in?  My hubby and I do not allow her to dole out Time Outs, but am I doing harm if she’s willing to help her sisters calm down by pointing out how they can share a toy?

Answer from a child development expert – aka my parenting guru:

I think in these scenarios, it is nice to see older siblings looking out for the younger ones. I would absolutely praise them for being helpful.

Also, I can see this can being perceived as the older one parenting the younger ones, but I think these situations are fine.  I would be concerned if there is a pattern where parent’s don’t step in and continue to rely on older children to do their responsibility.

I like how big sister was helping her twin sisters do problem solving. It’s a lovely moment between sisters.  As long as you and your hubby do the parenting and take responsibility, I have no worry about big sister being given too much responsibility.

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