Toys do more than help pass the time—whether we see it or not, they are a teacher, a companion, and even a therapist for kids. Before you reach for that third fire engine (you aren’t alone in that, btw) here’s some food for thought:  buy your little guy a doll.  Allison Klein, founder of Rose & Rex, breaks down why.

It’s All About Empathy.
It is incredibly important to focus on helping children develop social and emotional skills like empathy.  Dolls help children of both genders develop empathy in a multitude of ways. When a child engages in dramatic play with a doll, he is given the opportunity to act out things that are happening in his own life, explore his emotions and try on new ideas. When a child takes on a role while playing with a doll, such as father or baby, they must take on the perspective of who they are pretending to be, which helps to shift the way they perceive the world and their relationships.

His Future Spouse (and Employer) Will Thank You.
Culturally, we often prioritize teaching boys values like strength, confidence and bravery. The goal, however, should be to raise well-rounded children. Taking care of a doll strengthens compassion and nurturing, which are essential skills to teach. Adults who are able to demonstrate compassion and take on the perspective of someone else have been found to be more successful in their own interpersonal and business relationships.

A Doll: The Ultimate Idea Wrestler.
Dolls help children process social challenges. Children make sense of the world through play, which is why they naturally explore difficult situations when they engage with dolls. For example, a child might use his dolls to recreate an upsetting situation that occurred at school or at a playdate. Having time and the tool of a doll to work through difficult moments is essential in helping all children learn to process and problem solve. 

Still not convinced your son will have interest? That could be true—every boy will respond differently to a doll.  In the toddler years, a child might look to a doll for comfort, while that same boy, once in the preschool years, could begin role playing and pretend play, and the doll might see a little more playtime action.  At the end of the day, the best way to raise a kind and nurturing kid is to be a kind and nurturing parent. 

EDITOR’S PICKS

Hazel Village William, $48

Hazel Village Reginald Fox, $56

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Fella Doll, $35 

 Bla Bla Nou Nou the Bear, $58