Toys Build Emotional Skills
by The Genius of Play Team
In play, kids build emotional skills including:
Toys are more than fun! They are tools that help kids build important emotional skills that they carry their whole lives. As a parent, you can support your child’s emotional development by ensuring their toy box has a variety of playthings that build emotional skills.
Here are some of our team’s cool toy picks. There are many more skill-building (and fun!) toys waiting in the toy aisle.
Barbie Color Reveal by Mattel
If your kids love dolls, baths, and blind boxes, they will really love Barbie® Color Reveal™ dolls from Mattel. When the doll first comes out of the package, it is shiny blue, pink or purple - with no visible features. The doll’s hair color, eye color, and skin tone are only revealed once they are totally submerged in warm water. But the water fun isn’t over! With a splash of ice-cold water, additional decorations on each doll are revealed. Plus, each doll comes with several sealed bags that contain fun clothes and accessories.
What kids learn through play with Barbie Color Reveal dolls by Mattel: Playing with dolls is more than fun - it helps kids build empathy! A recent study by Mattel found that playing with dolls activates brain regions that allow children to develop social processing skills like empathy. The study also found that kids were still developing these skills - even when they were playing with the dolls alone.
Eco Nation Plush Toys by Aurora World, Inc.
More than sweet, snuggly plush toys, Eco Nation stuffed animals by Aurora World are created from 100% recycled materials. Each soft animal is made from recycled plastic equivalent to eight plastic bottles. Available in 24 different styles, from squirrel to shark.
What kids learn through play with Eco Nation plush toys by Aurora World: Through play, children can not only learn how to care for others, but they can also build a sense of responsibility and connection with the Earth. Play with stuffed animals also allows children to practice caregiving skills. After all, what kid doesn’t want to grow up and be a pet parent!
Little Rebels Dolls by Little Rebel Inc.
Little Rebels dolls were created by a mom on a mission to elevate female role models and empower kids to believe in themselves. Each plush doll is inspired by real-life female icons like Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, and more. The dolls come to life digitally in the Little Rebels app. Kids can ask the dolls questions and listen to the character respond, and more.
What kids learn through play with Little Rebels Dolls: As Genius of Play Ambassador, educator and advocate for children, Robin Shaw shared in her recent Genius of Play article on play and diversity, “Children who don't see themselves when they look around grow up believing that people who look like them don't have value or that they can’t ever be certain things.” Toys like Little Rebels dolls are powerful tools that help teach kids about courage, respect, inclusion, and to dream big.
Shore Buddies are little plush toys with a big mission! Proceeds from each toy sold funds educational outreach campaigns to educate children about the dangers of ocean plastic pollution, to help save marine life and keep plastics out of the ocean. Each toy doesn’t just help fund this important mission, it also helps clean up the ocean. Shore Buddies are made from recycled plastic bottles. Available in five full-sized styles, plus four mini keychain styles.
What kids learn through play with Shore Buddies: During pretend play with stuffed animals, children can “try-on” new feelings and personas. As Dr. Erik Fisher has shared, “Teach your kids about perspective-taking by talking about how they and others feel.” For instance, while playing with stuffed toys like Shore Buddies, ask your child how a whale would feel if his ocean home was filled with plastic. Helping to create a deeper connection with the sea animals kids read about in books, or watch in videos, and develop feelings of compassion and responsibility for the environment - that’s The Genius of Play!
Whatsitsface is an emotional plush toy with 6 faces. With a simple turn of a knob or a flip of a face, each Whatsitsface plush toy features six separate faces - offering your child endless opportunities to create new imaginative play scenarios while having fun and developing emotional intelligence. Available in three styles: Puppy Dog, Kitty Cat, and Teddy Bear.
What kids learn through play with WHATSITSFACE: WHATSITSFACE nurtures emotional development through imaginative play! Play is a safe space where kids can act out pretend scenarios that frighten them. With Whatsitsface, your child can create imaginative play scenarios that generate strong emotional reactions from their plush friend and play through the entire scenario.
American Girl Joss’s Ultimate Collection by Mattel
Joss is the 2020 American Girl doll of the year. She’s a fierce surfer girl who never backs down from a challenge - even if it means taking a chance on something new, like trying out for cheer. This collection lets girls bring Joss’s story to life as they play out imaginary adventures in the cheer gym and in the waves! It features the Joss doll, book, accessories and more!
What kids learn through playing with American Girl dolls: American Girl dolls bring to life stories that enrich children everywhere with characters who reflect issues and challenges kids face every day. The dolls give voice to a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds and offer accessories that help set the stage for imaginative play. Studies, including a recent study from Mattel, have found that children are actively rehearsing social cognitive skills during doll play, and that “doll play may provide a unique opportunity for children to practice social interactions important for developing social-emotional skills, such as empathy.”
Emotional skills aren’t the only skills children develop during play! Toys can also help kids build cognitive, creative, social, communication, and physical skills. Find more fun skill-building toys in our Cool Toy Picks!