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Buyers Guides

Why Play with Dolls?

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When I was a girl, playing with my dolls was fun.  My dolls would come to life in my imaginary world and we’d play lots of games together based on family life, such as going to school, having a birthday party or going to the doctors. I enjoyed dressing them up, making them clothes and washing and restyling their hair. My time spent playing with dolls was relaxing, happy and comfortable and I have wonderful memories that will stay with me forever. Today, doll play hasn’t changed very much except there is so much more choice of doll, with lots of dolls clothes, accessories and doll sized furniture that can be purchased too.  When I was a girl I was reliant upon my mum and my aunt to make dolls clothes for me, until I was old enough to make them myself and I loved doing that too.  I have to admit that I think doll loving children are very lucky now because of all the accessories available for them to enjoy!

Why Play with Dolls?

There is just one problem nowadays when it comes to playing with dolls or other traditional toys, and that is, they are very easily overlooked because there is so much stimulating material available all day every day on ipods, laptops, TV, game consoles and so forth. All of these things offer such easy entertainment that we are all probably guilty of allowing our children too much access. I know it is often much easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no.  Yet, children need to play with old fashioned toys such as dolls – it’s in our genes and we need to play for healthy development.

I wasn’t surprised to read that play is in decline. That is ‘free play’ where the child is in control of what they do without any adult direction. It’s this free play that is so important to our children’s emotional and social development. Children get so little time to play on their own or with friends because of the time spent at school, attending after school activities and getting homework done. Some psychologists believe that the decline of free play is responsible for the increase in occurrence of anxiety and depression in children, a drop in creativity and free thinking in society, the rise of the ‘me me me’ culture together with less empathy for those around them. Children need time to play freely in order to be happy, healthy, creative and social human beings.

Why Play with Dolls?

There also seems to be a lot of emphasis on children having educational toys because in order for our children to do well in society today they need to achieve so much at school. Surely the more we can do as parents and grandparents to help them achieve this has to be a good thing? What we seem to forget is that for children playing is learning and our children need more time to just play. And this is where dolls come into their own.

Dolls may not ‘do’ anything. Sometimes I think if dolls did walk and talk and were more like little robots then more Dads would understand why their daughters might like another one. At least a doll that ‘does’ something might justify the high price. However, the fact that dolls don’t do anything is their best attribute as far as play is concerned. A doll that does nothing will in fact do anything in a child’s imagination. They don’t control the play, the child does. Dolls allow children to play freely in an imaginative world that the child can create, adapt, progress and elaborate over hours, days, or in the case of some of my daughter’s scenarios – weeks! Children’s dolls are part of this imaginative world and together they can re-enact situations to help the child’s understanding. With a doll your child can safely explore emotions they may be feeling about situations such as separation, acceptance of a new sibling, relationships and co-operation with friends or parental authority.

Why Play with Dolls?

Psychologists and social workers often use dolls when dealing with children in delicate situations because children can make sense of the world around them by acting out things that they have witnessed.  However it does not have to be a distressing scene, children often act out everyday scenarios to help understand the world around them and their place in it. Perhaps they have fallen out with a friend. Role playing the situation will help them understand why this happened and how they could handle things differently next time.

Dolls can give you an amazing insight into your child’s world and what is going on in their mind.  Children often mimic the way they are nurtured – with a doll your child can cuddle, choose an outfit, prepare a meal, go for a walk, give a bath, read a story – the list is endless. As they role play the children are learning useful skills to help prepare them for the future, when as adults, they themselves become parents.

Why Play with Dolls?

Most of all, playing with dolls is a lot of fun. With a doll a child can leave the stresses of day to day life behind and escape into their own imaginative world for a little while. Just one doll on it’s own can be fun, but you can have much more fun with 2 or 3 dolls, a few sets of dolls clothes, and some accessories such as tea sets, beds, prams, wardrobes, horses, doll baths, baby bottles, nappies or hair styling products to name just a few. Doll play is also a great opportunity to encourage your child to make mini things too from cardboard or fimo, or when cooking. Again, the imagination is an amazing thing and with a doll a child can do pretty much anything.

It’s for this reason that Petalina exists. The business came about because I wanted today’s little girls to have the same opportunity to play with dolls that I remember as a little girl. You’ll find lots of information in our Buyer's Guide about which are the best dolls for children of different ages and hopefully then you will be able to decide on the perfect doll for your little girl. However, if you are still not sure then please do get in touch and we will do our best to help you make your little girl a very happy one, just like this little customer of ours on Christmas Day last year. Except of course we helped out Father Christmas!

Why Play with Dolls?

Cate O'Neil
Posted by:
Cate O'Neill

Founder of Petalina Dolls, Cate O'Neill, loved dolls as a child. For her 7th birthday she received a Sasha doll and quickly grew a family of five. With daughters of her own Cate tried to find them equally beautiful dolls to play with, but was disappointed with the choice available. She created Petalina with the aim of providing today's little girls with the opportunity to own gorgeous dolls and enjoy innocent doll play just as she did as a child.

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