I have been part of an engaging discussion recently in which we were talking about children’s play, and more specifically play with dolls.
There are many more than 3 reasons why children benefit from playing with dolls and that it should not stop because school starts.
Doll play helps children to learn nurturing skills such as recognising empathy towards others. By considering routines such as feeding and sleeping it allows a child to learn that every individual has specific needs and wants beyond their own.
Playing with dolls can increase language and communication skills and develops children’s imagination and creativity. Assuming the roles of both ‘baby’ and ‘parent’ children work out the intricacies and nuances of communication ; and perhaps most importantly that it is a two way exchange.
Role play also invites opportunities for learning about personal self regulation and comfort. Playing with dolls in the years beyond preschool may encourage children to work out some of the ‘issues’ they may be facing in the class room or school yard without the fear of confrontation or rejection in safety, so that when they do return to they may feel more empowered to manage those relationships with more ease.
It may not be a doll in particular that children play with, but any toy that helps them to feel secure and connected to themselves. The familiarity of toys can allow children to feel that they have a friend who will always support them, whilst they learn to give this to themselves as they emotionally mature, and may continue to develop in their relationships with others.