Does having an achie annoy you? Do you sometimes think life may be better without one? Well, think again. A new study by the Center for Global Development, with offices in Washington, USA and London, UK, shows that growing up with an achie promotes her shoti and shobe’s child development, leading to a more successful life.
The researchers surveyed approximately 550 Kenyan households with one older sibling between the ages of seven and 14, as well as 699 toddlers. They reviewed the activities that the older siblings did with the younger ones, such as singing and reading.
The researchers found that “big sisters are more likely to play and read to their toddler siblings than big brothers.” They concluded that older sisters engage in more stimulating activities with the younger siblings than the older brothers, which, in turn, builds their vocabulary and motor skills.
Youth with achies had a “score about 0.12 standard deviations higher on an age-adjusted index of early childhood development.” That means the effect of having an achie is the equivalent of having a mother who finished primary school, when in truth, the mom only finished secondary school.
According to the center, this is especially true in developing countries and low- and middle-income country contexts when mothers may be busy with other work and household tasks. In such contexts, grandparents and older siblings, especially older sisters, are crucial.
Achies tend to spend more time taking care of their siblings than ahias to the extent that anthropologists have long been aware of this “older sister effect.” For instance, in Gambia, Africa, having an older sister was so beneficial that it made it more likely for the younger children to survive during the mid-20th century.
So, be sure to thank your achie the next time you see her.