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DD constantly has her dolls be "naughty"

1101 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  loveandkindness
I am worried about the way my DD is playing lately -- I need someone to tell me this is a normal phase! She will be 3 in a few months, and for the past month or so whenever she plays she has her doll/stuffed animal be naughty. She takes great delight in having them do things she is not supposed to do (i.e. they hit, grab toys, yell, throw things at one another, etc.). She never pretends to tell them they are not behaving nicely -- she just laughs hysterically.

When she has friends over, she doesn't hit or yell, although occasionally she does grab toys! Most of the actions her dolls do are not things that she does.

Is she just acting these things out since she can't do them in real life? Does this mean she really WANTS to act that way? Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable to play with her when all she wants to do is have them misbehave. I feel like I am condoning the behavior and saying it is okay to act like that in real life.

Anyone else have this happening with an almost-3 child?
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Children explore fantasy through play. It's okay to let her do this IMO. My kids both have done this and both are great kids who know right from wrong in real life. There was a great documentary, Raising Cain, based on the book that talked about little boys not being allowed to play out their war games anymore and how this can be detrimental to them being in touch with their inner emotions. I thought that sounded very interesting.

My 2yo has her dolls fight all the time. My 5yo will have the mothers of her dolls die (she prefers animal toys, so I say dolls meaning My Little Ponies, horse toys, etc) and she will go through the whole burial. Sometimes they fight or yell at each other. I let both of them play like that. Sometimes I will talk to my 5yo about it later, but not in a judgemental way. I just ask her what happened to the mommy pony, how did the baby pony feel? Things like that.
it sounds like she is trying to make some sense out of the idea of "being naughty" by having her toys play that way. it sounds like it makes you uncomfortable to watch her play with her toys this way, but play is the easiest way for kids to come to terms with their world. i haven't experienced this yet, as our son is only 22 months old, but pretend play comes in all shades and emotions. just as the experience of a loved one dying might come out in playing (their teddy bear hides the doll "forever" where the other play animals can't ever find her or the doll gets angry at everyone because she can't see her other doll friend all the time and so she hits other toys -- just two examples that come to mind that i've heard of), trying to understand the "rules" of life (no hitting other kids, no throwing toys, we share our toys with our friends) might come out in her playing, too.

i don't believe that you are condoning the behavior by allowing her to play with her toys this way. you are condoning allowing her to play as she needs to, and she has shown she understands the other rules you have set because she does not act this way with other children.

you might consider playing with her when she is having her toys play in a "naughty" way and ask her gentle questions about why "panda bear would want to climb up on the table when she knows that her papa doesn't like it" or why "dolly hits teddy when teddy takes her toys". you might also give her suggestions as to why the dolly would hit (dolly is angry because she doesn't want to share toys with teddy) and then explain that it's okay for dolly to feel angry and that sharing is something we do with our friends and that even mamas and papas share with their friends.

it actually amazes me to hear that she is playing this way at not even three years old. that sounds like a type of play that a much older child would do.

i know there is a book out there about this, but the name is escaping me right now.

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SOunds like she's just pretending at what she can't do herself. I wouldn't worry. And you can always prefer to have YOUR doll act differently!

Originally Posted by loveandkindness
Is she just acting these things out since she can't do them in real life? Does this mean she really WANTS to act that way? Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable to play with her when all she wants to do is have them misbehave. I feel like I am condoning the behavior and saying it is okay to act like that in real life.
No, I think you're saying it's okay to *play* like that, within the context of her game, and that really is okay. I was just re-reading Playful Parenting, and one of the points Cohen was making was that it's important for adults to play with kids and to play these sorts of games so that the kids won't need to try and fulfill their need to play this way with other kids.

In a way, yeah, she does want to act that way. She wants to explore the full range of behaviors in life, and play with the idea that she *could* do them. It doesn't mean that she's going to choose to do them outside of play, though. Just like when kids play games in which they're orphans, it doesn't mean they're actually thinking, "Hmm, maybe I could arrange an 'accident' for Mom and Dad..."

I would probably ask her what she wants you to do during these games. Sometimes she might want you to come up with more things for one of the dolls to do. Other times she might want you to pretend to be upset, and other times she might want you to pretend to be very angry at her doll. Or, she might want you to take over all the misbehavior so that she can be the one getting angry. It's all very normal. I'd highly recommend Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. I think it'll let you feel a lot better about all of this.

Oh, a little OT, but the mention by a PP of My Little Ponies and death reminded me of when I was observing in a preschool classroom. Every week, the little girls would play with the My Little Ponies. And every week, those horses seemed to be dropping like flies. Half the playtime was spent with the dead horses in heaven. I knew that death is a big play theme for kids, but it seemed almost obsessive. Then one day I was talking to one of the little girls, who was holding one of the winged pegasus Ponies. I said something about it being a pegasus. She told me, "No, this is an *angel* Pony." All of them thought that the winged horses (and there were a lot in the collection) were supposed to be dead, and angels. And here I thought they were getting rather obsessed with death, while they thought they were just playing with the toys the way they were designed!
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When I was the title of this thread I thought you meant she was making them be "naughty", as in have sex. Sheesh, my mind's in the gutter. When I was that age I always stripped my dolls down and made them have sex. I didn't really know what sex was but I knew you had to be naked to do it, and involved laying on top of each other somehow. I don't know where I even learned that since my parents never talked about it and I had no older siblings. My parents would have been thrilled if I'd been playing "naughty" like you're talking about
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Thanks for the guidance and reassurance! I actually bought "Playful Parenting" a few months ago and since I have SO MUCH time to read, it is still sitting on my nightstand!

Today DD was acting out the farmer telling his animals not to go on the barn roof. Of course they all went up on the roof! Then they all fell down and got hurt. My role was to kiss each animal after it fell and make it better. So I am just going to follow her lead. At least she realizes the consequences of falling off the roof!

Thanks again --
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