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  • 4 Reasons Why Toddler Boys Should Play With Dolls, Too!

    It’s time to retire those gender-limiting rules set by society.
    by Rachel Perez .
4 Reasons Why Toddler Boys Should Play With Dolls, Too!
PHOTO BY Hasbro and Ogilvy Brasil on Facebook
  • Kids learn best when they're playing–and they should be able to play with any toy they want. Changing people's mindset is not going to be easy, but if every home lifts these gender limits, we may finally be able to achieve gender equality.

    A new campaign from Ogilvy Brazil "aims to do away with the notion that dolls are reserved for a single gender," according to AdWeek. The 60-second ad spot entitled “We All Can Take Care” shows boys playing with dolls for Hasbro’s Baby Alive doll.

    Playing with dolls "leads to emotional development, new ways of interacting and learning what respect is all about," educator and author Maria Angela Barbato, in Brazil, said in a statement about the campaign launch.

    "It’s a free-spirited, playful gesture that nurtures love and that counts for much in helping children growing up to become human beings who care for one another," says Kellen Silverio, marketing director for Hasbro in Brazil.

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    If you’re still not convinced, let’s discuss why the lessons girls can acquire from playing with dolls are also beneficial to boys:

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    Playing with dolls helps a child's imagination and literacy skills.

    In pretend play, dolls can be whatever and whoever the kids want them to be. A doll can be a baby, an airplane, a ball, or anything. "As a child selects a doll and embarks on an adventure, he or she is crafting a narrative or storyline, involving literacy skills, flexible thinking, self-expression, taking initiative, and more," Jody DeVos, Director of Child Development and Learning in the strategic technologies department of Mattel tells Fatherly.

    Pretend play with dolls helps kids learn kindness and empathy.

    Imaginative play that involves tapping a doll’s back for comfort and wrapping it with a blanket are acts that promote human kindness. Kids also learn to be responsible by taking care of dolls, which they can use to take care of pets or themselves as grownups. Research on pretend play shows kids use dolls to create scenarios and explore both sides, learning about communication, responsibility, and empathy.

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    Dolls are vital in teaching social skills and problem-solving skills.

    When kids play house, they learn social skills to help communicate and cooperate with each other. "The open-ended nature of doll play can allow children to practice routines or social interactions that might be tricky—such as how to resolve a conflict with a friend from their real life," DeVos shares. With dolls, kids can make mistakes in interaction but not suffer the consequences, and instead learn from them.

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    Letting boys play with dolls helps break gender limitations.

    Many parents think their sons will grow up to be gay when they play with dolls at an early age, but it’s simply not true. Instead of bombarding boys with toys that promote aggression (i.e., guns and soldier toys) and limiting their exposure to toys that promote nurturing and relationship building, why not give boys the chance to do both?

    "Healthy people know how to balance all of these traits. Giving boys the chance to explore nurturing and connecting with others opens up opportunities for them to build important life skills," Jennifer Shewmaker, associate professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University, tells the Boston Globe.

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    "The advice I would give to parents is: let your children play,” Barbato stressed.

    Our kids should be able to play with any toy they want. If we do this, then maybe after a couple of generations, we'll see boys and girls who can be whoever and whatever they want to be and who are both strong characters and yet also kind nurturers.

    Watch the Hasbro ad spot below.

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