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Playing with dolls - that's why it's important for children

"It's time for a snack now, shall we eat some roasted sandwiches?", says Emma and serves a toy sandwich to her doll. It is not uncommon for parents to hear their children talking loudly with their dolls.

Right from the first playtime, children learn different things by playing. Many children learn most effectively by imitating and communicating with others. Many parents think that the doll is a tool to calm the child and give comfort, but it can be much more than that. How do children think when they talk to their dolls and in what way does playing with dolls help in children's development?

At Micki, we collaborate with relationship and parent coach Anna Träff, who also runs Relagogen; an educational platform in relationships, to better understand the doll's role in children's development. Anna has worked as a preschool teacher for 26 years and has broad experience in working with children of different ages. Anna tells us that dolls are important toys and that playing with dolls is very important for children, both boys and girls.

Dolls provide comfort and security

Children’s movement develops and they get stronger when they are around 6-9 months old. Many children become anxious during this period and look for comfort, for example with a stuffed animal, a doll or a pacifier blanket.

"Dolls will often provide security. Children leave their anxiety, fear, or sadness with the doll they have trusted for. Children enliven toys and charge them with their different emotions. A doll can, therefore, for example, be a safe friend when the child goes to sleep away for the first time.”, says Anna.

Schooling can sometimes be a challenging period for both children and parents, and dolls can then help to provide security and facilitate separation anxiety. "When schooling, a child's doll can be a safe bridge between home and preschool. The doll, which is loaded with security from home, can come along and start preschool with the child. It is called a transition object, something that the child uses to get comfort and safety in unfamiliar environments.” Anna continues.

Dolls contribute to the development of the self-image of children

Children develop their self-image through the experiences they go through and the people they have contact with. "𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦, 𝘴𝘦𝘦, 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘱 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧-𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘺. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘣𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘋𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴. 𝘞𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘺 (𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘢𝘥 𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴) 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘴", says Anna. 

By playing with dolls, children try to play different roles. Emma who offered the sandwich to her doll plays the doll's mother and the doll is Emma herself. In this way, Emma learns what it means to be a child and she develops her self-image through role play. "By going into different roles, children get to know themselves and their surroundings better, in this way the self-image develops." Anna continues.


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Dolls help the child develop social skills

Children often experience difficult emotions, and this is an important part of children's development. Sometimes it can be challenging for parents to know how to act when their children experience these different emotions. Roleplay with dolls helps children develop their social skills. “Dolls help children to get into fantasy worlds. In the fantasy world, children can both rest and develop at the same time. It is restful because the child creates the world and re-experiences what they have gone through, and developing because children unknowingly learn through play", Anna explains.

When children play with dolls, they talk loudly and often repeat what they have heard. The child relives different situations where they were scared, sad, happy, or worried. By talking to the doll, the child can get these feelings out, understand what they mean, how they feel and learn how to regulate them.

Dolls - for better daily routines

"I do not want to eat", "I am not tired now and do not want to sleep" or "just another story" ... the list can be long. However, it is extremely important to have routines for toddlers. Playing with dolls gives children the opportunity to practice the different steps of their daily routines.

“Children understand the routines better through schedules and pictures. Children learn better the more senses they use in their learning", says Anna.

"Among other things, we had a "nature's doll" we used during and after our adventures in nature to help children learn new things about nature. Another doll was an important part of the routine activities such as dressing in the hall, hand washing, lunch, and rest. The children get help by associating what is happening with a good, warm, and comforting doll. Or a curious doll who wants to know everything about nature", concludes Anna.