My daughter turned 5 when she was gifted a baby brother. In fact, I missed her fifth birthday party because I was recovering in the hospital. Right after her party, she and my husband came to visit me and our new baby in the hospital. And the moment she saw him, she instantly took on the persona of a sibling, and immediately did things only the best older sister does. She gently touched his little fingers, carefully smelled his head, and delicately kissed his cheeks. She had been waiting for him for a while, or "forever" in kindergarten terms, and was so happy she finally got to meet him.
The first week home was definitely an adjustment for us as a family. Our daughter followed the baby around, asked hundreds of questions, and wanted to be near us both every second of every day. By the second week postpartum, however, she mildly lost interest. We all kind of got into the groove of being a family of four. Her interest in her brother grew as he grew. When she finally wasn't scared of touching him (she said she was afraid she'd hurt him because he was so little and she was so big), she started coming over to him and touching his feet. She's play with his toes and rock him in his rocker and stroller. We started going on walks together, which is when she insisted she should push him because he "is her brother, after all."
As an older sister to a brother myself, I can feel how my daughter feels about her brother. I have spent much of my life worrying about my brother, helping my bother, and fighting my brother's battles. I have taken on the role of my brother's parent in order to help him with one thing or another more times than I can count. My brother and I are very close, which is how I would love my children to be.
So, while my daughter isn't always the most well-behaved child, her love and affection for her brother almost make her other digressions meaningless. She is the best big sister because of the following:
She Is Patient
My daughter is usually very patient with her little brother. Of course she has her moments, like when he throws an ear-piercing toddler tantrum or when he breaks something of hers, but overall she's really good with letting stuff slide. From the moment he was born, she was able to tolerate things even I have a problem with, like his middle-of-the-night crying to the middle-of-the-day screaming. She has been patient, as much as a child can be, when I had to pay more attention to her baby brother than to her.
She Is Kind
While admittedly it took some time for my daughter to share her things with her baby brother, especially after he clumsily broke one of her boys, she now shares and plays with him all the time. Whenever we go to a store together, she is always looking for something her brother would like and wants to bring him something home. She protects him and cherishes him.
She Is Helpful
Every weekend, my husband and I like to sleep in. Our kids wake up around 7:00 a.m. and have learned to not bother us until we wake up. Our daughter helps her brother brush his teeth, makes them both breakfast, and takes him downstairs to play or to watch TV. She helps during the day, making them lunch or helping him with his shoes. She gets his toys for him for nap time, and sometimes even helps him shower. When he was first born, she'd grab diapers and wipes for me when I needed help.
She Is Affectionate
My daughter is not the most affectionate person. She keeps her distance from most people and does not freely give out hugs or kisses. With her brother, however, she is more than willing to be affectionate. The two are always hugging and kissing each other. Even when they wrestle on the living room floor, they are laughing and hugging each other.
She Is Empathetic
If he gets hurt, she runs over and comforts him. If he gets into trouble, her eyes well up because she feels bad for him. She helps him make friends and helps him navigate the world. She teaches him right from wrong through play and instruction. She feels how he feels.
She Is Playful
Let's be real, an 8-year-old has very little interest in playing with a 3-year-old. But even though my daughter doesn't usually hang out and play with her brother, especially not on the weekends when my daughter may have a friend over, she does spend a decent amount of time playing with him. He always wants he to play and sometimes she does say no, but most of the time she gets down on the floor and plays cars and trucks with him.
She Loves Her Baby Sibling
Finally, my daughter clearly loves her brother. She always includes him, knows what is right and what is wrong, and protects him. She really is the greatest big sister to her little brother.
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