The Wonder of Play & Empathy

Play

Play is how young children learn about the world around them.

Kids develop an understanding of how to interact with others, navigate family & social situations and think creatively through play. Imaginative play with dolls builds social/ emotional skills, such as empathy, in a fun & engaging way. Diversifying toy boxes is an important part of expanding a child’s circle of care beyond themselves and their immediate community.

Can Play Help Kids Build Empathy? Infographic 

>WONDER: Where Play & Empathy Meet

Empathy is the one human capacity that allows us to link minds and hearts across cultures and generations to transform our lives.”  -Michele Borba, E.d.D

“...When we choose to wonder about people we don’t know, when we imagine their lives and listen for their stories, we begin to expand the circle of those we see as a part of us.”- Valarie Kaur

Can you imagine...

Can you imagine what the future might look like if we could build this capacity in young children through play at the earliest of ages? We can!

"Children “learn, interact, grow, and construct their understanding of their world through play...They learn about social and family relationships through play, including how to relate to and interact with others.”

-Ann-Louise Lockhart, Psy.D., Pediatric Psychologist and Parent Coach

“A team of researchers from Cardiff University has used neuroscience for the first time to explore the positive impact doll play has on children, bringing to light new evidence that doll play activates brain regions that allow children to develop empathy and social information processing skills, even when playing by themselves...These benefits of solo doll play were shown to be equal for both boys and girls.”

-Amarilis Whitty, Frontiers Science News

 

The WONDER-ful Combination of Play, Empathy & Diversity in Children’s Toys & Books

“We must expose our children to diversity and expand their circles of familiarity at an earlier age.
“Empathy has limits; we care most about those who are like us, which increases the empathy gap.  Find opportunities to enlarge your child’s circle of caring.” -Michele Borba, Ed.D.
Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends.  Our challenge is to help children learn to have empathy and care about someone outside that circle
“...such as a new child in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.”  -Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project

Diversity through play is achieved by having a variety of toys, music, clothes, books, food, and art that highlight and celebrate similarities, as well as differences.

 

References:

UnSelfie, Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, by Michele Borba, E.d.D.

See No Stranger, A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, by Valarie Kaur

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/10/01/human-neuroscience-child-play-dolls-cognitive-social-benefits-children/

https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/resources-for-families/7-tips-raising-caring-kids

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/parenting/multiracial-toys-diversity-play.html

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