A baby from planet Neonatopia arrives in the store via a pneumatic tube called the neonatal transportation system. Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: Claire Peirson, an expert in Applied Positive Psychology and who is the managing director of Pivotal Mind, Dubai, says the concept of marketing space babies to girls could have an interesting dimension. “From having my own children, I understand that lots of children have enquiring minds and a vivid imagination, so I’d presume they would find this concept novel and appealing.”

Plenty of children, she says, are still drawn to traditional toys just as much as digital concepts.

On the matter of girls playing with dolls and whether it actually helps them hone their nurturing instincts, Peirson says, “I believe that playing with dolls brings out a nurturing instinct in children and encourages role play, both individually and in group play.” But she also makes the point that role play was gender neutral. “When I trained as a teacher 20 years ago, role play areas were always non-gender specific and boys were just as happy playing with dolls as girls ... I think we’ve moved a long way past stereotyping ... I hope so anyway.”

The boys with guns and the girls with dolls debate, she says, “was hopefully left behind in the 1970s. Come on, this is 2018, surely we’re all bored with that discussion and have moved on drastically?”

NAT_181206 Claire

On whether make-believe clinics that attend to make-believe ailments for dolls or space babies, as the Drollsters brand is doing, help girls develop broader emotional range, Peirson says: “I see no problem in children using imaginative play to express their ideas.”

Ultimately, it is the parents who need to be in tune with the physical, mental and emotional well-being and upbringing of their children, she says. “It’s their call.”

What are the most defining points in children in the age group of six-ten — a captive market for retail industry experimenting with increasingly innovative ideas — that parents should be aware of? Peirson outlines them:

1) Becoming comfortable in their own skin, to begin to celebrate their uniqueness and are able to express themselves in a safe and loving environment without judgement or ridicule. Children this age are often developing a sense of who they and a good sense of humour should definitely be encouraged!

2) Allow children to be children without adding pressures and strains of test results or being top of the class — all those pressures will come later in life.

3) Encourage and celebrate their uniqueness and individual character strengths — stop comparing siblings.

4) Allow them to fail sometimes — it builds resilience and grit. Step back and be there for them, but encourage your child to become a problem solver.

5) Remember, life’s not about what you get, it’s about who you become. Listen to your child when they have a problem and give them the space to resolve it before you jump in.

6) Instead of telling children how good they are, start commending their effort, bravery, kindness, decision-making and other important character traits.

7) When your child asks you, “Is this good?” tell them, “What do you think?” thereby encouraging critical thinking and lessening the need for external praise to validate their worth.