Why It Is Good for Boys and Girls to Play With Dolls
We explain the benefits of dolls as affective toys and how to choose the most suitable for our daughters or sons
Made of straw, rag, porcelain, plastic, wood… Throughout history, dolls have accompanied all the children of the world. The dolls are necessary affective toys during childhood, they have multiple benefits that affect their emotional development. They also help them to mature, develop empathy and bring them closer to the world of adults.
Benefits of playing with dolls
Dolls are an important symbolic game that takes place throughout early childhood and beyond, but also a great tool for learning and getting closer to the adult world. Through role play and the interaction that children develop with their dolls, the little ones understand the world around them and the different roles they can fulfill in it.
The game with dolls is a cultural and social essay where children develop their social, cognitive, emotional, intellectual skills ... It also allows them to develop empathy (a capacity that is born with the human being, but that develops with social practice ), since by becoming the mother or father of their dolls they can put themselves in the place of others.
Waldorf education, for example, places such importance on play with dolls that it develops its own style of dolls to accompany the education of children. They also help children to develop the concept of self-image and define themselves, since these involve self-representation.
This type of toy offers an excellent way of expression when they identify with the doll itself and attend to its physical needs (feeding, bathing, etc.) and emotional (cuddling, rocking, hugging, etc.). And it is that caring for dolls teaches them to take care of themselves and others.
How to choose the dolls of our sons and daughters
In an early childhood stage, they innately choose the dolls that most closely resemble them physically. Thus, a blonde girl will want a blonde doll and a black boy a black doll. And so with each of our features. It is the stage of exploration with identification, nothing to do with not accepting the difference.
That is why it is important to support the existence of dolls that represent us all, and act as a mirror for their little owners: dolls with short and long, curly and straight hair, with different skin tones, accessories and hobbies. ; with Down syndrome, with glasses, with a hearing implant ...
Accessories are also important ... There are make-up dolls that always walk with heels and aggressive-looking dolls accompanied by all kinds of weapons, which do not favor the taste for healthy and enriching hobbies that young children should develop.
Children's minds internalize all these impossible physical stereotypes through play with these figures, identification (or lack of identification and consequent frustration) with them and daily life with them. All this is affecting the self-esteem and self-image that they generate of themselves.
It is not nonsense. It is not just "child's play." Through play with dolls, boys and girls satisfy a need to identify themselves, representing moments in their daily life in which their dolls act like them and allow them to express what they feel.
That is why it is important that the image of your dolls is pleasant and appropriate to their age, whose body maintains real proportions, is not hypersexualized or hyper-muscular, does not embody negative values, its expression is friendly and its general appearance transmits innocence and sympathy.
On the other hand, it is equally necessary to start breaking down gender stereotypes in children's play. I still remember the day my son (who was about 3 years old at the time), went down to the park with a doll. A girl of about 8 years old approached him and said "you are going to be a good dad."
This is how we adults should understand things too. Gender roles contaminate any possibility of personal development and make it impossible for our sons and daughters to be truly free, autonomous and functional tomorrow.
That children worry about the care of babies is wonderful, because through the game with dolls they will improve their notion of responsibility, train their empathy and develop their emotional intelligence. In this way, they will also be able to acquire greater knowledge about equality and avoid any type of discrimination. Thus, it will grow and mature in a healthy, respectful, responsible and tolerant way.