I started to think about this after remembering something that happened when I was little. When I was a kid, we a giant play area in the basement. I'll paint the scene for you: First, we had a giant pink barbie castle: Spoiler Don't let the picture fool you, it was GIANT. It took up an entire coffee table that was behind one of the couches. Then, there was the couch in front of it: That would be the "village" area for these dolls. Then the couches on either side of it would be the other "village" areas, connected by "bridges" that my sister and I made. In the middle of the basement, there was a small pink table, a little "island". This was all "ground level". The floor and the OTHER castle on the floor Spoiler was the "water" level. All the mermaid dolls would go here. This was the normal everyday setting where these stories would take place, a Kingdom by the sea, and a mermaid kingdom on the floor. Suffice to say, no one ever was able to actually sit on the couches or walk through this area - it was 100% all dolls. The couches were all different parts of the Kingdom, too. The main couch where the castle was were for the festivals of the kingdom, the single couch was a standard house area that all of the dolls would use for a house "scene", and the second biggest couch would either be used as a forest area or beach as a backdrop for secret meetings between the dolls. But why am I telling you all this? I'm trying to show you how thought out 7-year-old Cal's layout was for every single story she ever made in the basement. And this is just for the average, everyday "doll session". Things got even crazier when multiple "realms" were introduced (once I got fairy dolls and what not). But I digress, you get the idea. Everything was extremely specific. And it wasn't just the kids acting out the movies they've seen with dolls, either. It was all original stories, sometimes using the characters from the movies (for example, my Belle doll was still Belle, just in a different universe), or having the character play a different role (The Belle doll playing the role of Marlene the assassin) I would give anything to be able to go back in time and see what kinda of crazy stories I made, because even though I can remember some of them vaguely, I will never be able to remember them all in great enough detail that I could come up with an outline for a story. I spend a lot of time down in that basement making stories, none of them were ever written down. They were original stories, cross-overs, and some of them were probably "fanfiction" (I remember this one story where Sora was in love with Ariel, but Ariel was in love with Eric so she turned into a human, leaving Sora so brokenhearted he tried to kill Eric) when I didn't even know fanfiction existed. I played with these dolls, I made these stories until the very last year of elementary school. So what happened? My Nonno would kindly smile as he came down the stairs, the sort of smile that you would give a 8 year old with a soother: "you're a little bit old for that, aren't you"? But he never said anything to me, so I didn't think anything of it. But I did stop speaking outloud. Usually I said all the character lines outloud to myself, or sung their songs, instead I did everything in my head. I was trying to hide. My sister would start to make fun of me for playing with dolls. She would tease me about being "too old", but when I was her age I still played. I ignored her. But eventually it wasn't just my family, or my sister, but also strangers. People would come over to the house, see me playing and pull my mom aside and ask "Is Cailyn 'okay'?" They didn't mean "okay" as in feeling well, it became obvious to me they were asking my mom if I was a "special" kid, because I was going into highschool next year and I was still playing with dolls. So slowly, I stopped playing. I remember the first time I heard a stranger ask my mom if there was something wrong with me, I felt sad. I didn't want to play anymore. I went upstairs and I did something else. Then next time we had to clean the dolls up for a party or a get together - they never came out again. I think I stopped because people made me embarrassed or ashamed, and so I didn't want to feel that way anymore. I joined Roleplays and it was enough to keep my creativity going, enough to keep me from giving up on creating stories all together, and recently I started writing again. But I don't think I've retained the amount of imagination and creativity I had as a kid. I don't have the same endless bounds of imagination I did as a kid anymore. It's important to grow up, but does part of growing up necessarily need to be to stop playing? This isn't just a question with dolls either, it could be with anything their child enjoys that they seem to think is "childish": Dolls, action figures, lego, pokemon cards. Now luckily, I looked up this question online "when should I tell my child to stop playing with dolls", and I've seen two types of answers: "Don't tell her to stop! There are worse things kids could be doing these days let her have fun!" or "the normal age is 12. your daughter will be bullied if she doesn't stop soon, you're an awful parent if you continue to let her when she gets to highschool" These are paraphrased with gray areas in between, but this made me feel better. Obviously this isn't a big enough sample size to know how many parents force their children to stop playing with toys, but it made me feel better knowing that the comments I saw were mostly of the opinion that they should stop when they're ready, and making them feel bad for it could be harmful to them. If my child was my age now, and wanted to play with dolls, hell I would play with them. Because I think by forcing them to give up these things we are killing their imagination and their will to create. I can only speak for myself and what happened to me, but I can tell you that I cannot make up stories as easily as I know I could when I was a kid, or as easily as I see my cousins do when they play with their dolls. I think if I had continued using that part of my mind and continued to play, I would have been better off for it. Now I've written a lot of different things, many different stories that are original and fanfiction, but I know it's missing the essence of what I used to have. I don't think it's damaging to let children continue to play with dolls or play pretend, or whatever they play with into highschool. I think if anything, it's healthy for them to do an activity they want where they are escaping from reality for a while. And unlike writing, no one is going to see you. Creating the stories you do with your dolls is for you and yourself, no one will criticize you for a line or make you feel like your story is bad, because it's all for you. For me, I feel a lot of pressure writing, it's definitely not like playing with toys. I wouldn't want to be responsible for making my child give up something they really love, especially if it's not some unhealthy obsession. I would want to embrace it, and like I said, play with them. I don't know if it would stop them from growing up properly, if anything doing something with them they enjoy could bring us closer together. I think they should stop when they're bored, because otherwise I would feel like I was hurting them by making them ashamed of something they loved, and I would be afraid I'm hurting their imagination. If you would, what age would your make your kids stop playing with their favorite toys/games, whether it be dolls/action figures, playing "pretend" outside, etc?: Could letting children continue on with playing into highschool+ harm their development? Do you think by forcing children to stop playing we are killing parts of their imagination and creativity?