Play is one of the most important gifts for a child and as their parents and carers, we cannot encourage active and imaginative play enough in my opinion. Allowing children to explore their world through play is a fundamental part of their learning and growing, both emotionally and physically.
Doll play has long been hailed as a fantastic, useful and necessary part of active play for children. We can learn a lot about children through their playing with dolls. I certainly remember my first dolly (in fact I ended up having four) and from as young as two years old, I nurtured and cared for my dolls like they were my own precious babies. They gave me an opportunity to express myself and let my parents know what I was thinking and feeling when sometimes I didn’t know (hadn’t learnt) the actual words. If I had hurt myself, I’d want a plaster for my doll’s knee as well as mine, if I didn’t want to eat my greens at dinner time, my doll didn’t want to either.
Playing with dolls is a way in which children can begin to understand and make sense of their world. It allows them to copy what they have seen, re-enact a situation or express how they’re feeling. Doll play allows children to develop emotional skills, empathy and social skills – even when playing by themselves.
When starting school for the first time, or returning for a new school year, many young children feel anxious while they’re finding their feet. It’s perfectly normal and natural (in much the same way as adults, we might feel apprehensive about returning to a workplace, or starting a new job.) Utilising a doll such as Baby Annabell is a fantastic tool to encourage your child to express themselves through playing. I especially like the Baby Annabell and Baby Alexander dolls as they are a really good robust size and there is something very comforting and lifelike about them which children love.
A play idea to help eliminate common anxieties your child might be feeling around nursery or school this autumn is to utilise your Baby Annabell as a ‘worry doll’. A worry doll is a very important member of the family…if your child has any worries, encourage them to tell their worries to their doll. They can say it out loud and then once they have been brave and said anything that is worrying them, give their Baby Annabell doll a massive hug – here’s the best bit, the hug will squeeze the worry away.
This play technique can work really well – particularly in the early weeks of establishing a new routine at school or nursery where there is a lot of change and stimulation going on – which can evoke worries and anxiety in young children. The play outlet of using their doll can be hugely cathartic, especially as they can transfer anything they might be feeling onto their Baby Annabell and away from themselves. In much the same way an adult might offload to a friend or therapist for some clarity and comfort.
For slightly older children who are practising their writing skills, they could perhaps write down their worries on a little piece of paper and ‘give’ the note to their doll. Perhaps they could tuck it up in their Baby Annabell Sweet Dreams Crib or Baby Annabell Baby Walker for safekeeping. After a couple of days, they can have a look at the note again and see if they still feel worried about the thing or if it has gone away. If it has gone away much fuss can be made of throwing it in the bin…literally throwing away the worry.
So as well as being a great outlet for creative and imaginative play, your trusty Baby Annabell doll and accessories can be a really useful play tool in helping your children communicate and offload any worries or anxieties as they settle into a new term and routine.