Younger siblings get greater freedom according to study

Siblings have long argued over favouritism and relaxed rules depending on whether you’re the first born or the ‘baby’ and now a new study has shown parents do let younger kids get away with more.

When it comes to walking to school or around the neighbourhood, parents are more likely to let their younger child go on their own.

Research led by The University of Western Australia has revealed how sibling age, gender and dog ownership affected children’s independent mobility.


They looked at data from 181 children aged eight to 15 years and parents reported whether their child was allowed to walk or cycle alone or with other children to or from school, friends’ houses and the local park and shops.

“Given that stranger danger is one of the most highly cited barriers to children’s independent mobility, walking with siblings and/or a family dog may reassure both parents and children by providing them with an increased sense of safety,” Dr Hayley Christian from UWA’s School of Population Health said.

“Travelling with an older sibling was more likely to provide parents with an added sense of safety and perceived protection”, Dr Christian said.

“Children may also learn safe routes and how to negotiate traffic situations when travelling with older siblings, which helps build children’s and parents’ confidence in their ability to travel independently.”

The researchers also found owning a dog was linked to children’s overall independent mobility.

“This suggests that the family dog is important because it can offer not provide company for the child but also give parents an increased sense of safety.”.

Dr Christian said it was hoped the research would help identify strategies to encourage more independent mobility for children.