Teaching Big Sisterhood


My friends jokingly refer to my 4 year old, Charlie, as a professional big sister. As a foster family, we have shared our home with 10 children in addition to our two biological girls. Some have been her age; most have been babies. She has the baby thing down – she willingly changes diapers (as long as they aren’t poopy!) and loves to hold the babies and give them bottles. Our current family dynamic has something Charlie’s never experienced before, though – toddlers. 

Being a big sister to a toddler is very different than being the big sister to a sweet, snuggly, do-what-you-want-with-me baby. We are navigating the world of the independent thinker who is mildly destructive.

Here are some tips I’ve given Charlie (after singing the catchy Daniel Tiger song about babies making things different):

  • Try including her in what you’re doing! Maybe they won’t destroy it the first time! If they do, I’ll help you fix it and we’ll try something else. 
  • Allow her to play with something similar. If you want to play with Barbies, give her a few to play with along with a few accessories. Playing next to you may make her just as happy. 
  • Play something she wants! Try a gave of peek-a-boo or hide and seek. You can hide under the same blanket 3700 times and they will die with laughter! 
  • Sing songs with them! Sing Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat-a-cake or Ring Around the Rosy. Engage them on their level and see how excited they are to play with you! 
  • No is okay! Sometimes you will need time to yourself. That’s good! Go play in your room or outside. Sometimes they will need time without you. That’s good! Snuggle the baby or come help me.

At the end of the day, helping her to see that she can’t always force a 2 year old to pretend that she is the baby will not work. I try to give her fun alternatives to make peace and joy in our home. After two months of working with her, we have found a new routine of laughter. The girls are actually playing together more and fighting less. There is less screaming and more giggling under blankets. 

Our home is happier. I hope yours will be, too! 

Stacy Wilson
Stacy is married to John, and mother to four girls, all ages 6 and under. They are a foster family and are passionate about serving children and families in need. Stacy has a Master's Degree in Education from LSU, but has chosen to take a break from teaching in the classroom to work part-time, while focusing on family.


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