The rise in childhood mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression may be linked to the decline in opportunities to play, explore, and engage in activities independent of parental control and oversight.
By the age of two, most children are able to embark on pretend play and adopt a perspective that does not fit reality. This enables children to develop the ability to attribute perspective to others that they don't share. Findings suggest the ability to adopt perspectives, an important aspect of developing social cognition and the attribution of mental state, is already present in young children.
When it comes to pretend play, infants perform interactional patterns with elements of pretense a lot earlier than previously believed. Researchers say pretend play should be considered an interpersonal feature of cognitive development, and not an end product.
Playing with dolls as a small child helps develop social skills and empathy. Doll play activates the posterior superior temporal sulcus, an area of the brain associated with social processing and behaviors.