Guide to the Empathic Doll: what it is, what it does and how to choose it
What are empathy dolls?
The empathy dolls, also known as empathy dolls or therapy dolls, are dolls which, due to their particular characteristics, help to encourage empathy and emotional expression in both children and adults.
When to choose an empathic doll?
Empathetic dolls are recommended, for example, for children who need to get used to the presence of a little brother or sister on the way. In fact, the little ones identify with their parents' role towards them and learn to look after the little guests as if they were living beings.
This type of toy helps develop understanding and communication between parent and child, as well as encouraging empathy in the little one who takes care of the doll's needs, as if it were a living being.
The empathic doll and her role in symbolic play
Dr. Anna Romanelli, psychologist and child psychotherapist explains:
<< Playing is not just a simple pastime, but a tool for developing imagination and creativity. Each game can help children develop some skills rather than others.
One of the most important games for boys and girls is the simulation game, in which children reproduce what adults do on a daily basis. Among these, the favorite is often playing with dolls. Many children grow up with a doll next to them that they take care of, sleep with and accompany many moments of the day.
Playing with the doll has various functions in the growth of children, because it promotes the acquisition of skills such as:
- Social skills Try proposing to a doll that is different from itself, but also similar to itself, all that it experiences in the relationship with its parents. This has very important significance for cognitive and emotional development. There are emotions that very young children don't understand cognitively, or are difficult to process and through play they can be implemented to become clearer. For example, we can see a child who is caught up in an argument with his doll just like the same child experienced it at school with a friend. In this way he has the opportunity to relive the episode and to find new solutions. He can decide to play himself or his friend to experience different points of view.
- Responsibilities such as taking care of a pet or younger sibling.
- Empathy The doll is one of the first playmates; it is chosen precisely because it has the same appearance as the child and it is therefore easier to identify with it. We often see babies feeding, changing diapers, taking care of dolls in the same way parents take care of the child. This game favors the acquisition of the sequences of the day, but above all it favors the development of empathy, i.e. the ability to identify oneself with the other. In short, the child experiences the first relationships through this game.
- Imagination Sometimes playing with a doll can be a way to distance yourself from reality, focus on yourself and increase your imagination: there are children who make their dolls fly, experiment with new sequences and relational skills, and experiment with new words. >>
How was the Empathic Doll born?
Born in Sweden in the late 90s from the idea of doctor Britt-Marie Egedius Jakobsson, educator and family therapist, the empathic doll is now mainly used in schools, in hospitals and rehabilitation and assistance centers to strengthen some aspects lacking in people with special needs and psychiatric diseases (such as autism and senile dementia).
A scientific study was conducted in Italy on the impact that empathy dolls have on people with dementia. The conclusions of the study highlighted:
- a clear improvement in the quality of life through the use of dolls
- greater social interaction
- greater participation in organized therapy activities
- a decrease in medication in a large number of participants.
What are the benefits of the empathic doll compared to a common doll?
- The empathetic dolls have the weight distributed in greater quantities on the bottom, this gives the impression of holding a child in the flesh.
- Their skin and hair are super soft and realistic to the touch and stimulate emotional interaction.
- The features of the face are delicate and not accentuated and this serves to encourage the personal interpretation of the moods of the doll in harmony with one's own.
- They are very flexible and some have unstable necks just like newborns, which motivates the child to take care of them and look after them.
- Hands and feet are treated in minimal detail and often have nipples, navel and genitals.
- They represent both males and females, making it possible to identify male children.
- They have variable skin and hair color, so that children of different ethnic groups can recognize each other.
The Rubens Barn Empathic Dolls
- The very soft Rubens Barn empathic dolls were born in 1996 from the idea of two friends, the ceramist Ewa Jarenskog and the entrepreneur Teruko Wahlström.
- They are handmade in fabric, of the highest quality and do not contain dangerous components.
- They are machine washable at 30° and can be tumble dried on a delicate cycle.
- They have a wide range of clothes and accessories for endless fun!
Here are the 8 lines of Rubens Barn empathic dolls
For your convenience we will list them from largest to smallest (The photo is not updated with the new models).
- Rubens Barn Original They are, in fact, the originals, born in 1998. The idea was to create a doll that could stimulate empathy and emotional expression in the user. They are suitable from three years.
- Rubens Baby have the genitals, navel and nipples and look like a newborn. They are therefore perfect for those children who need to be stimulated to look after or who will become or have recently become older brothers. They are 45 cm tall and weigh 600 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
- Rubens Kids These dolls are meant to represent a cross cultural mix with a wide range of dolls each being ethnically different. They are 36 cm tall and weigh 350 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
- Rubens Cutie Classic these dolls are made to be dressed in a huge range of compatible clothes and accessories! They are 32 cm tall and weigh 155 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
- Rubens Cutie Activity designed to accompany creative children, each doll has a different passion! They are 32 cm tall and weigh 155 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
- Rubens EcoBuds. They are the first dolls created entirely in soft certified organic cotton with a view to improving the environmental impact of the product. They are 35 cm tall and weigh 150 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
- Rubens Tummies are suitable from 0 months and their peculiarity is that they include a removable grain bag that can be heated in the microwave (about 60 seconds at 600W), or heated in the oven ( 100° for 10 minutes) and cool in the freezer. They are 31cm tall.
- Rubens Mini EcoBuds Mini version of the EcoBuds sisters. They are 23 cm tall and weigh 53 gr. They are suitable from 0 months.
Which Rubens Barn to choose?
Dr. Romanelli advises: “The choice of the doll, which will become our children's first friend, is a personal and intimate choice, just like when choosing friends. There are children who prefer a doll more similar to themselves because they are developing empathy. Others prefer dolls that are very different from themselves because they are curious about what they don't know, about what is different from themselves and they are developing their relationship with the other more. Depending on the age and moment of development, one type of doll may be preferred over another, this choice can also teach us something more about our child. ”
Come and explore here our selection of empathy dolls.