Cuddling, rocking to sleep and chit-chatting to dolls isn’t just sweet pretend play for little boys and girls, a new study has found it’s also developing essential skills.
Researchers have discovered that playing with dolls triggers parts of a child’s brain that helps develop empathy and social skills, even if they’re playing by themselves.
A recent study, commissioned by Mattel, the maker of Barbie, used neuroscience for the first time to see what impact playing with dolls has on boys and girls. The brain activity of 33 children aged between four and eight, was studied as they played with dolls, and the results are heartwarming.
Playing with dolls develops children’s skills
Researchers from Cardiff University’s Centre for Human Developmental Science found that the part of the brain associated with social information processing such as empathy, was activated even when the child was playing on their own – and these benefits were the same for boys and girls.
“This is a completely new finding,” explained senior lecturer Dr. Sarah Gerson. “We use this area of the brain when we think about other people, especially when we think about another person’s thoughts or feelings. Dolls encourage them to create their own little imaginary worlds, as opposed to say, problem-solving or building games. They encourage children to think about other people and how they might interact with each other.”
As part of the study, some children played with dolls on their own, others together and some played on tablets. The researchers found that the brain-triggered results in children who played with the tablets on their own were far less.
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Searching for the perfect doll for your little one? From adorable dolls for newborn bubs to dollies that can go in the tub, here are a few articles that you might like to read next:
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- 10 cute bath dolls that can go in the bath
- 8 doll prams and strollers for pretend play
Feature Image: Poppy’s Little Treasures