Dolls and doll houses – Playing house and playing Mum
Dolls and dolls houses are classic toys, perfectly designed to practise grown-up behaviour, situations and scenarios. These toys can help children to practise social interaction, nurturing, sharing and other desirable skills and qualities. A beautiful dolls house – of any shape, size or design – can be a favourite social centre of a child’s bedroom or playroom. Many people assume that dolls houses will be expensive but there are many affordable ranges on the market, so this need not be the case. The types of dolls and houses available vary greatly. From classic large wooden houses, to miniature carry-along cottages, there is something for every budget. Dolls houses today can be farms and cottages, tree houses, palaces or mansions.
Dolls are often seen as charming, old-fashioned toys but their appeal has actually endured for many generations. The types of dolls available has changed dramatically in the last few decades. When dolls first became popular, the dolls available were ‘babies’ and children played at parenthood. Since then, the political landscape has changed. Children can now play with dolls, or figures, that are teen-aged, or adult. This changes the types of play available to children. Playing with older dolls, or figures, now focuses play on socialising, careers and more grown-up situations, while ‘baby’ dolls focus on the nurturing of parenthood. All types of play have a purpose and children often graduate onto older dolls and figures as they mature and want to act out grown-up scenarios.
Dolls houses, of all sizes and shapes, are the perfect toys for children to learn about, and mimic, the grown-up world around them. In this play, we can see our lives reflected back at us, as children play at doing the things that they do at home. Playing ‘house’ will always have lasting appeal as these experiences are some of the first things a child will learn and experience. These games reflect their security and understanding of their place in the family. Playing at simple things like cooking and eating, bathing and putting children to bed, and other everyday tasks, help children to understand, and feel secure in, their world. Also, being the organisers of these little worlds helps children to make, and understand, the rules and routines of home life. These kinds of games increase their security and well-being.