Children can learn so much from playing with toys! Whether it’s a doll, workbench or pretend play kitchen set! Why is it that it’s ok for a girl to play with a doll? But, if a boy becomes attached to a doll and enjoys coming up with pretend play scenarios with his doll, many parents would try to convince him to drop the doll and play with the tool bench.
Let me assure you that boys playing with dolls is absolutely a good thing! It’s one of the best ways a child can practice pretend play and thus develop his language skills.
Why Should Boys Play With Dolls?
Before I get into why boys should play with dolls I want to talk about a few things that bother me about the whole “boy toy” vs “girl toy” phenomenon. Play is something that all children should have the privilege of experiencing. There should be no rules or stereotypes around play. If your child is interested in something, then let him or her follow that passion. Your child will learn much more if you follow their lead!
We got my daughter a tool bench when she was 18 months old (my son wasn’t born yet) and it quickly became one of her favorite toys (she had dolls and other girly toys as well). She also had a ride on truck that turned into a dump truck, so she was able to put all of her tools into it when she no longer wanted to ride on the truck. Nobody batted an eye.
But when my son was around 2 and decided to push around a pink stroller with a doll in it, I would hear comments like “oh, he must have an older sister”. Yes, he does, but why would it be so odd that he decided to do this himself? His Dad pushed him around in a stroller, so it’s something he saw regularly.
Even if my son were my first born child, I still would have made sure to have dolls and strollers around for him to play with. Just like my daughter had a tool bench. My daughter is now 8 and she loves Lego, science experiments, writing books and playing with her stuffed animals.
She will be the first to tell you that she does not like Barbie, princesses, Monster High or anything girly. I did not push this on her. I just let her choose what she wanted to play with.
My son has become a pretty typical boy despite having a sister. He loves Lego, Skylanders, Nerf Guns, the play kitchen and crafts. The last 2 don’t sound so manly, but that shouldn’t matter. However, if he enjoyed playing dress-up, dolls, house, etc. I’m sure people would wonder what was going on. Yet nobody thinks it’s odd that my daughter isn’t into all things “girly”.
Toys for boys tend to promote aggression and toughness whereas toys for girls are all about being kind, caring and compassionate. Do we not want our boys to become kind, caring and compassionate men? On the other hand do we want our girls to be pushovers or do we want them to have some competitive and aggressive (not necessarily in the violent sense) qualities?
Playing With Dolls is Great for Pretend Play
When a child plays with a doll there are so many language opportunities that can arise. Here are just a few examples:
- feeding the doll
- bathing the doll
- taking the doll for a walk
- putting the doll to bed
- taking the doll to the Doctor
- taking the doll to school
All of these scenarios will lead to language development as the child gets older and narrates what is happening in the scenario. There are so many benefits of pretend play that I have written two articles dedicated to the subject.
Playing With Dolls Allows for Language Development Opportunities
Children are sponges and they learn through observation. A little boy sees his parents helping to feed him, bathe him, get him dressed, so it is natural that this would come out through pretend play. A doll is a great way to practice what he sees.
Language opportunities are practically endless with dolls.
For a young child you can label body parts (eyes, nose, mouth, stomach, hands, feet, arms, legs, toes, fingers, etc.) and other vocabulary words such as “bath, wash, clean, wet, dry, eat, drink, spill, bib, cloth, sleep, bed, blanket, etc.” all while playing with a doll.
Additionally, prepositions can be practiced in a natural way. For example “the doll is sleeping on the bed” or “the baby’s cup fell under the chair”.
Playing With Dolls Can Teach About Emotions
When my children play with their dolls and stuffed animals, they go through a variety of emotions. Sometimes the baby is scared because mommy turned the lights off. Or the puppy is crying because he fell off the couch and got hurt.
My kids use real life events when they are playing with their dolls and “stuffies”. This is how children learn about their surroundings.
Playing With Dolls Facilitates Social Skill Development
Often children will play with dolls together. My son will play dolls with my daughter and her friends. Usually this ends in a game of “house”. Eventually the doll becomes part of the “family” and each child takes on a role such as: mother, father, sister, family pet, etc.
The children must all take turns in their various roles in order for the “game” to run smoothly. They also must decide who will play what role.
My son and daughter love taking their dolls and stuffed animals to the Doctor’s office, daycare, school, a restaurant, etc. One child is the parent and the other is the Doctor or teacher. The scenarios they come up with are quite entertaining to listen to. So many times I hear them say phrases that they have obviously heard elsewhere.
Have I Convinced You To Buy Your Son A Doll?
Parents, please encourage your young sons to play with dolls. You do not need to force them to do so if they choose not to. But, have dolls and doll accessories available and don’t make it seem like a doll is for girls and they shouldn’t be playing with one.
Your son can grow up to be manly tough guy who is also kind, compassionate and caring!
Make sure to read this mother’s story about her son’s natural love of dolls and what she is doing about it.
If I Haven’t Convinced You, How About This?
You can use some of my suggestions for dolls and replace them with puppets. It really doesn’t matter if the puppet is a boy, girl, animal, dinosaur, etc. The point is for your son to have fun while learning important skills.
So what do you think? Should boys play dolls? If you have a son, do you encourage him to play with dolls, or would you rather he stick to tool benches, trucks, Lego and all things boy?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.