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"You have to listen to me because I'm in charge": Explicit instruction improves the supervision practices of older siblings

Objectives: Sibling supervision increases young children's risk of unintentional injury. Both noncompliance by the supervisee and insufficient supervision contribute to this risk. The current study examined whether explicitly instructing older siblings to supervise their younger siblings and prevent specific risky behaviors improves their supervision practices. Methods: Supervisees and older siblings were placed together in a playroom. One group of older siblings were given explicit instructions not to allow the supervisee to engage in specific risk behaviors, whereas a second group was not. Results: Informing older siblings that they were "in charge" resulted in a higher frequency of proactive supervision strategies, more forceful reactions to stop supervisee risk taking, and a trend toward improved watchfulness. Supervisees in the no instruction condition also engaged in more hazard interactions compared with those in the instruction condition. Conclusions: Explicitly informing older children to supervise younger siblings may reduce younger children's risk of injury when siblings are supervising. (author abstract)
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