I have a 3 year old daughter and a 9 year old girl in the neighborhood always comes around wanting to play with her. Is it appropriate?

I do not think so… but my wife says it is all right as long as she is present.

  • 9
    You haven't supplied enough details to provide the basis for a good answer to your question. What leads you to think the older girl's desire to play with your kid is inappropriate? Does the older child bully the younger one, display overtly sexual behaviour, persuade your daughter to do things that you've told her not to, or what? Also, are there other children living in your neighbourhood, and if so, what involvement (if any) do the two girls have with them? What kind of neighbourhood is it, and what facilities does it have (parks, playgrounds etc.)?
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 9:12
  • Why is this question on hold? I don't think it's vague at all. The OP wants to know if it is appropriate for a 9 year old and a 3 year old to play together.
    – Jax
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 11:11

4 Answers 4


I would agree with your wife as long as there aren't any circumstances/details that you haven't mentioned that would change this situation from two normal children playing together to...something else.

First, the key here is supervision. If your wife is willing to supervise, there is no opportunity for the 9 year old to expose your 3 year old to "typical" 9 year old stuff that by age difference alone might be inappropriate, but mostly harmless. By this I mean talk of "boyfriends" (believe me, even at 9, this may come up- thanks Disney Channel :-/ ) which has a very benign meaning at that age but still might be a topic you'd rather avoid at 3. Or, perhaps more likely with boys than girls, is the potty talk that 9 year olds LOVE. (It's actually pretty hard to deny that human beings of all ages and genders find toilet humor to be at least somewhat amusing, isn't it?).

Second, 9 year olds are at a stage where they are starting to take on more responsibilities and often crave a "regression" now and then as a "break" from all that. This 9 year old may not have any siblings at home to share that time with and is seeking it with your daughter. If you are worried about what kinds of activities they would be able to both enjoy, don't, if I'm right the 9 year old will be very happy to do whatever your daughter would want to do on her own. I see this with my 9 year old and his brothers (who are 2 and 4) and with our neighbor across the street who is 9 as well. She frequently plays with the 4 year old girl two houses down. My son also used to play (supervised) with a 2 year old girl in our old neighborhood where he had tons of other kids his age (6 at the time) to play with- I too thought it was weird, but when I asked him about it he always used to say he enjoyed the "quiet baby play" and "taking care of her." The girl's dad always welcomed my son and appreciated the socialization since the girl's siblings were much older and uninterested. They were never unsupervised, and it was a good experience for both of them. When we moved the girl's dad was disappointed that my son wouldn't be around anymore-he told us that his daughter's language skills and desire to potty train had improved and he attributed it to time spent with an older kid.

Speaking of siblings...as I mentioned, my own household puts a 9 year old and a 4 year old together to play almost everyday and of course the obvious difference is that there's inherent trust between siblings (or not! There's a lot of wrestling at my house-not all of it friendly!). However, from my day to day observation of these two ages interacting I can tell you that when the activity does skew more towards the 9 year old level, it is a fantastic opportunity for the little one to have new experiences explained at a more relatable level. My 9 year old is still a child himself so he can explain things in a way that I can't as an adult. He has way more patience at times too. For instance, my son is teaching my 4 year old to ride a bike. He can still remember being frustrated by his failures at bike riding and gives my LO genuine heartfelt encouragement. And he also shares techniques that anyone who's been riding for years takes for granted. To sum up, the big kid experiences the 9 year old brings to the table are positive ones and mostly ones your daughter will have eventually on her own anyway.

This leads me to my final point: allowing this friendship now, under supervision, can very possibly lead to a more long term relationship not only with your daughter but also with you and your wife. Depending on your circumstances and feelings about childcare, you could be paving the way towards a reliable, trusted baby sitter. Or, if not all out totally unsupervised babysitting, perhaps a "mother's helper" situation at least which also has value. You may be dead- set against "strangers" watching your kids (my husband is- and it's really hard since we have very very few family members to rely on). Nobody needs a 5 year old's help painting a hallway right? A "mother's helper" is such an asset at times where you just need someone to keep your child occupied but not necessarily away from home.

Based on these personal experiences, and barring anything you haven't mentioned, I tend to think this relationship has more pros than cons.

  • 1
    +1 my 11-year-old still wants to play Littlest Pet Shops from time to time and her peers think that's way uncool, so she'll do it with younger cousins or whoever.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 15:40

Nine year-old girls always love to play with toddlers because that makes them feel like a small mom. In a way, it is like playing with dolls but live. Sort of. That's how it works with my nine year-old daughter. I would trust her but always supervised and after washing her hands. Remember that schools are loaded with germs.


I don't see why it worries you unless you know the older child has behavioral issues. It sounds much like my daughter, she's eight - close to nine - but would have no issues playing with a three yr old. It gives her a sense of responsibility and the fact that the younger kid won't argue much with what game next to play. I think it makes it easier, actually.


Well from my own experiences i don't find anything wrong while playing with a elder girl. But at the same time you guys need to keep a constant watch, so that these kids doesn't hurt each other while playing. Otherwise these activities are very common among the kids.

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