The Developmental Value of Doll Play
Dolls have a unique influence on children, providing them the opportunity to develop emotional skills.
Unlike many toys, children do not need to learn or be taught how to play with dolls. They simply already know. Doll play is a natural part of a child’s developmental life.
Dolls often serve as a security object for the child, mimicking the close and safe relationship between child and parent. As children grow, they often copy the paternal behavior they observe with their dolls. By “babying” them, dolls take on a powerful role in strengthening empathy and nurturing skills.
As children begin to interact with those their own age, they often use dolls to recreate events that may have happened to them at school. They will also use the knowledge they have gained from school to begin to explore different occupational environments, such as doctors, firefighters, and police officers.
According to Jerome Singer, a psychology professor at Yale University, children have a strong need to take in the loud and often confusing world in more manageable pieces. Doll play helps give them the control they need to understand their environment and events happening around them – even helping them work through strong emotions and release tension we can’t always see. They may even communicate things with their dolls they would not say to their family members.
Dolls have the significant potential and opportunity to develop a child’s emotional intelligence. By observing different roles and learning about people, they soon begin to see the role they want to play in their own world.