The age kids have to stop playing/do we kill imagination?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Calxiyn, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. Calxiyn Keyblade Master

    Jun 6, 2012
    Cisgender Female
    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:


    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
    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?
  2. Patman Bof

    Oct 19, 2010
    My sis had a Barbie house, my younger sis and I would often play with her. I don' t remember any of the stories she made up though, I was just playing along to indulge her. I' ve always been more of a reader than a writer. I do however remember dropping the elevator on her barbies to decapitate them, bursting out in laughter at the sight of her various facepalms. Trust a boy to enjoy looking like a psycho. xD

    I dropped all of my toys the second we got a NES for Christmas. I have yet to stop playing video games. I' ve been mocked for it back when I was in college but I' ve never let it stop me. My dad might have something to do with it, I' m not sure. He' d take me to the arcade every now and then for some father and son quality time (he still reads comics to this day). My mum wasn' t exactly approving, but I don' t think it had anything to do with my age. I blame the video games scaremongering that was going on in the news. And is still alive and kicking, thank you very much.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  3. GarrettFinch Hollow Bastion Committee

    Oct 19, 2014
    Fortunately I know quite a bit about this subject. I have worked with young children for quite some same and question like this one comes up a lot. I do not know much about when children get older because I only world with children from the age 2 1/2 and 6 years old. Imagination and creativity is going down but it is not from what you think. Children stop pretending around the first or second grade six though the age of 8. Playing with objects continue until the age of 12 but without the pretend play. The first issue comes when children go into preschool, where more of my experience is from. Parents come into the school and the see their child playing and their reaction is they are not learning. (Child is not doing anything but playing). Parents do not see that by playing their child is learning. Children learn by playing with each other. Playing with others promotes sharing, social development, cognitive development, emotional well-being of children, and increases Physical Activity. Play is so important to optimal child development. Play makes stress leaves go down. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. Play helps children explore the world in a way that they can understand. first we need to make parents understand what play does for the child because they will and think that they can have their child play at home and not send them to school. Children at home will not get the interaction that they will at school. Social development is a important one and looking at the way things are people are becoming less and less social. Curriculum is being pushed down more than it was in the past. Parents want the academic and not the play but parents do not see that they go hand in hand. Imagination and creativity is going down because of curriculum and parents. I worked with child for a number of years and still they do not understand what play does not matter what you do. Ask anyone what their favorite time in school way and it was most likely something to do with playing or something fun. As for older children play is still an important part of development. Stress is in everyone's life and play can help with that. Children need many things in their life to develop.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  4. Day~Dream Kingdom Keeper

    Aug 29, 2007
    Exploring the cosmos
    I personally would never tell my children to stop playing. I believe you're never too old to play with dolls every now and again. I am in my 20's and I am not ashamed to say that I still play with my dolls (and doll houses) and action figures once in a while. If people want to make fun of me for it (which they have tried to before in the past) I don't let it bother me and I would teach my kids to not be bothered by that kind of teasing either. I still have fun with it and as long as they do too I will encourage it. It's such a great way to explore with your creativity and imagination.

    I remember a lot of my dolls are named after celebrities/singers. (Barbara Streisand, Helen Hunt, Michelle Branch, etc) I would "direct" my own movies with them. XD they would all be romantic. A romantic comedy, a romantic suspenseful movie, etc. All this talk honestly makes me to play again right now lol
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  5. Sara Tea Drinker

    Aug 16, 2006
    Wherever the wind takes me.
    I have high-functioning Aspergers, I also enjoy a lot of childrens books, even to this age I still go back and fondly read my old favorite books. I also read several adult books.

    I never had dolls, I had action figures and video games along with videos. (My television sucked.) But I always used my imagination to make things up. I still like to imagine things even now. I keep it quiet except to my close friends because my mom thinks it's "weird" and doesn't understand why I do it. But I never outgrew it and actually enjoy making new ideas and use it as an outlet via rp'ing with my imagination. It has helped my ideas IMMENSELY to actually in my spare time to use my imagination and pretend on what to think of next.

    I think nothing should be crushed that isn't bad for you... (i.e: Smoking) Because who knows what ideas you can use with them to create your own things. Game developers I'm sure wouldn't.

    Fun fact: The creator of SSB was a HUGE collector of dolls and action figures while he was growing up and there's a theory that he incorporated his love for them in the games.
  6. Mixt The dude that does the thing

    Oct 18, 2006
    Unsurprising that you're gonna get a lot of biased opinions here, but still interesting to think about.

    Personally I think the closest I would get to telling my hypothetical child to stop playing with whatever would be to try to introduce them to a more "grown up" version in the same vein. Like how you described writing and roleplays as scratching a similar itch. But if they wanted to continue that would be okay with me. I mean I proudly played Yu-Gi-Oh at my lunch table through high school. And heck, one of my favorite memories from high school involved being confronted about it. And to this day I'll pretend like I'm punching fireballs or sneak around my house like a ninja. But only when I'm alone, or in a particularly loopy mood with people that I'm comfortable with.

    It's difficult because you do naturally grow out of things, and feeling ashamed or whatever can just be a catalyst for the transition. And that's perfectly fine, albeit still unpleasant. But there are other times where it's important to resist normality, learn that other's opinions of you only matter so much, and just do your own thing.
  7. SushiKey Destiny Islands Resident

    Jul 27, 2017
    Times are changing. There's an ever-changing limit on what is considered childish (just look at bronies, I mean, it's a show for little girls (MLP) yet many people accept them), and while many may not like it, it's going the way it is and I don't see a stop to it any time soon. Plus, many adults still like things that kids like - I happen to think Yu-Gi-Oh is still interesting, and while I wouldn't consider myself really much of one anymore, I would consider myself a brony. The limit for me is if you start roleplaying it and actually think it's real life, though I'll still be accepting of that, as it's not really possible to change that within some people.

    Don't be ashamed of what you like, it's who you are.
  8. Calxiyn Keyblade Master

    Jun 6, 2012
    Cisgender Female
    This thread is obviously super old but I do agree with you. Like, I’m 18 now and so things are MUCH different then when I was a kid, so I don’t necessarily know if parents are doing this now but when I made this thread is was definitely what was going on back then.

    In terms of now, lots of adults are playing with “kids stuff”, and I’ve noticed I’m personally not shamed for it that much anymore. My sister is still kinda in that camp but I feel like that’s more of a highschool thing at this point where it’s like “I want to be POPULAR not a NERD” but I know personally at my highschool the popular kids all had tumblrs and fandoms they were in, they didn’t publically advertize it but it’s not like they didn’t like anything either.

    Tbh because it’s been around two years now I’m glad to see things have improved all around from what I made this thread
  9. HeartIess Moogle Assistant

    Feb 10, 2019
    i think sooner or later imagination of kids is destroyed in favor of workrobots. If its not the parents school will make sure that "do exactly as i say" is burned into peoples minds.