There are many developmental benefits of role playing with dolls for adopted children. Dolls are most often used as a toy for entertaining children, but they also have a high value for teaching, and in children’s education for grasping concepts of healthy family dynamics. Dolls help children understand complicated or difficult situations in their everyday life. They are helpful for learning parenting skills, understanding life, dealing with conflict, increasing cognitive thinking and problem solving abilities, developing social skills and improving oral communication.
Dolls are a source of comfort and friendship that help adopted children learn how to interact with others, and feel like part of the family. Playing with dolls builds healthy social and emotional skills. Having a constant companion who never judges them boosts self-esteem. Therefore, children feel good about themselves. Playing with dolls improves communication skills and increases learning opportunities during teachable moments and are especially helpful for working through conflict resolution. Dolls that are fun and safe to play with provide comfort for a child who is unsure of themselves. Dolls provide an emotional outlet for children when they confide in their dolls and tell them secrets or thoughts they wouldn’t normally share with their parents or siblings. Having a doll to play with, hug, nurture and love can help ease their fears. A doll gives a child its unconditional attention as the child tries to explain the fears and uncertainties they are having, even when waking from a bad dream. Allowing a child to play with dolls is sometimes the best way to fix things. The reenactment of fun memorable events in a less direct way enables the child to feel more comfortable. Repetition also enhances language, vocabulary and storytelling skills.
Learning how to hold, handle, act and speak around a newborn by playing with a doll helps children build responsibility skills. Dolls with appealing human faces that look like a baby triggers curiosity, amusement and positive responses. Many children enjoy the feeling of being the sole-caretaker of a doll, and knowing that they have successfully cared for their baby enhances their sense of accomplishment. If a child feels that she is taking good care of her doll, she will likely feel better about herself. Children who learn to be the parent of their own doll learn the value of compassion and empathy and what it means to take on the responsibility of physically and emotionally caring for another person. Designing and sewing clothes, building doll houses, and manipulating the doll’s environment can lead to learning new and exciting secondary skills.
Dolls in the archeological record have been manipulated in magic and religious rituals since the dawn of civilization. They have been used as good luck charms, effigies, and puppets. The shape and costume design of dolls varies according to cultural heritage. Frequently dolls are handed down from one generation to another. Hopi Kachina dolls are meant to be studied and treasured. Russian dolls consist of hollow wooden figures that open and nest inside each other. Italian dolls were primarily made for Nativity scene displays. European dolls typically represented adult figures. China and porcelain dolls were lifelike in appearance. Paper dolls are cut out of paper. Teddy bears appeared in 1902 and were preceded by stuffed rag dolls. Barbie dolls, celebrity dolls, and Cabbage Patch dolls became popular in modern times. Most antique dolls are collector items.
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