Tween angst is widely known and bemoaned by parents the world over. The years between 8 and 12 can be a real rollercoaster of emotions and change. One of the biggest (non-physical) changes that occurs from child to tween is often unrecognized, they stop playing!
Recent UK research indicates that dolls are identified by 49% of preschoolers (3-5) as the toy children played with most, 41% for children (6-8) and a dramatic drop to 15% for tweens (8-12).
While a change in toy preferences in understand as children grow and their interests develop, the complete shift we are seeing away from toys in general is raising concern in many parents. COVID has seen an increase in the popularity of family board games such as monopoly and Uno, but traditional toys are still being left to collect dust.
A 2020 study has highlighted that playing with dolls allows children to develop empathy and social processing skills. It has long been thought that doll play impacted positively on child development but until recently it was never scientifically confirmed.
Evidence now shows that doll play activates brain regions which are associated with social information processing and empathy, indicating that doll play enables children to rehearse, use and perform these skills even when playing on their own.
Dr. Gerson explains: “This is a completely new finding. 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. The fact that we saw the pSTS to be active in our study shows that playing with dolls is helping them rehearse some of the social skills they will need in later life. Because this brain region has been shown to play a similar role in supporting empathy and social processing across six continents, these findings are likely to be country agnostic”.
One could argue that this wouldn’t just stop once your child becomes a tween, as a mother of four girls I would even go as far as to say that the continuing development of these skills are even more important for tweens as they try and navigate the difficulties of more complex friendships and social situations.
Technology obviously plays a huge part in why tweens are abandoning tradition doll play, but could it be something more? Maybe it’s because there isn’t a doll they want to play with.
This is a nutshell is why we created Forever Dolls, we saw firsthand how swiftly a tween can stop playing and how their lives can change so rapidly, and not always for the better.
Forever Dolls are a cool, funky and vibrant doll with positive messaging and age-appropriate body image. Our dolls are designed to be a friend. They each have their own characteristics and traits. Characteristics and traits that we value as a family and promote to our four daughters. A Forever Doll is someone kids can confide in, connect with and love. Someone to give them the confidence to be themselves. We want to encourage play for children aged 6 – 12+ by giving them a doll they can be proud of, something that won’t be hidden away when friends come over. A doll they can play with now and treasure forever.
As more and more families and tweens are looking to unplug and reconnect, we hope that dolls, like ours can provide a happy tool to extend childhoods for just a little bit longer.