The Influence of Older Siblings on Preschoolers

A preschooler is blessed to have older siblings. A big sister is great for reading bedtime stories, doing hair and laughing. A big brother will play all day outside, let you win, and doesn’t mind if you get dirty. A sweet relationship develops between older and younger siblings. There are trying times, challenges, and disagreements but in the end a bond is formed that cannot be broken. Most big brothers and sisters have no intention of being a poor influence on their younger siblings. Many times what is acceptable and age appropriate for an older sibling is not acceptable or appropriate for a preschooler.

Remember when you had your first child and you guarded her from influence that were too mature? Remember how your TV was set to kiddie shows? As your child grew so the did the level of exposure to the world. It was a slow progression from baby to toddler to preschool to elementary school and finally to high school. Did you ever wonder how your neighbor’s four year old was aware of a PG-13 movie or spoke like a teenager?

My oldest child is 13 and my youngest is 3. The ten year span has many advantages but it is not without disadvantages. My 13 year old no longer watches Blue’s Clues or thinks the music world consists of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She does her own hair, wears cute clothes, has a cell phone and a blog. All of what she has and does comes from years of proving herself to be responsible and discerning. To her younger siblings she knows everything and can do anything. She can even babysit them. She was 13 years in the making taking each step slowly and purposefully.

My 3 year old told me the other day she wanted to marry Mickey Mouse. I thought that was sweet. The next day she said she wanted to marry Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber! She sings one of his songs and a country song that is another favorite of my teen daughter’s. I do not find the lyrics offensive. However, my 3 year old should be watching Blue’s Clues, listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and not recognize anyone famous not on Nick Jr. She wants to be like her older sister. It matters not that her sister is a good role model. What matters is my 3 year old is being exposed to things beyond her age. She also plays Barbies and watches shows more geared toward my 6 year old.

So what’s the problem? Not so much a problem as the dynamics of the home are so different now and I makes me wonder. Will she grow up too fast? Will see be exposed too quickly? The course of exposure is not dictated by her maturity it is dictated by occurrences in the home. I cannot take away my 13 or 11 year old’s interests and age appropriate media. Thankfully, both have no interests that are struggles for the family or rebellion causing my younger children to be exposed to disobedience. Yet, having older children in the house changes things. It can be a beautiful thing or something potentially harmful. If you have older children in your home be careful with even the influences we see as innocent. Remember how your sheltered when there was only a preschooler in the home. Make your older children aware of this and certainly their love for their younger sibling will make them help you with this.

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About Richele McFarlin

Richele is a Christian homeschooling mom to four children, writer and business owner. Her collegiate background is in educational psychology. Although it never prepared her for playing Candyland, grading science, chasing a toddler, doing laundry and making dinner at the same time.