It’s always difficult to keep your little ones occupied, particularly at the moment. However, it’s still important to promote active play that challenges their creativity and encourages less time spent on screens. Doll play is a fantastic way to inspire their imagination and create an educational environment for children, even when they’re not being actively taught. Based on several recent studies we’ve narrowed the science down to three key ways children can benefit from playing with dolls.
- Doll play helps to develop a child’s social skills
A recent study found that doll play stimulates the same social areas of a child’s brain as when interacting with others. This means their social skills can be developed, even when playing alone (Hashmi, Gerson, Price and Vanderwert, 2020). In developing these skills, doll play encourages empathy within children (Hashmi et al 2020). This is especially important for children who are currently unable to attend school or enjoy play-dates as normal.
2. It’s a great alternative to screen based activities
Doll play is also a great non-screen based activity for children that may not involve active participation from minders and parents (we know how tiring it can be!). Trying to move away from screen based activities can be important for encouraging your families’ development and creativity. For example, Hashmi et al (2002) found that the social cognitive skills of children were much more engaged when playing with dolls rather than on a tablet.
3. It can reduce stress
Additionally, playing with dolls and imagination based toys is a proven stress-relief method for children. This year's change in lifestyle will inevitably be stressful for your little ones, therefore, encouraging active, fun and imagination based play is a great way to help them manage any uneasiness and reconnect with their creative side. In the words of David Elkind, a prominent child psychologist, this type of play is ‘nature’s way of dealing with stress for children, as well as adults’ (Elkind, 2001, p. 197).