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Identity & Belonging

Portrait of beautiful happy little girl.

“Dolls are more than toys, they are a reflection of who we are.”

All children will develop a strong sense of identity and this is about Who am I? Where and how do I belong? What influence do I have in my world? Having a strong sense of identity is about learning that you’re valued and worthy of attention. Children with a strong sense of identity look for and are open to new challenges. They ask questions and try new things. They know they can contribute to the world and make a difference. They also persist with things and enjoy their achievements. Relationships are the foundations for your child’s strong sense of identity. To build a strong sense of identity, your child first has to feel they belong. They learn this through safe and secure relationships – first with their family and later with other caring adults and children. Your child’s identity is also shaped by the ways that you and others respond to them. As they grow, most children show interest in being part of a group and playing with others. They become increasingly confident in different social situations and learn that their actions can have effects on themselves and others. Having a strong sense of identity doesn’t mean you have an outgoing or social personality. A quiet or shy child can also have a strong sense of identity. 

Positive messages about their families, backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and languages help children to develop pride in who they are. These messages also give them the confidence to voice their views and opinions, to make choices, and to help shape their own learning. By embracing difference, by exploring their own attitudes in relation to equality and diversity, and by realizing that their attitudes and values influence children, adults can develop the insights, self-awareness, and skills that are needed to help children develop a strong sense of identity and belonging. This helps to ensure that all children are respected and valued and that they can recognize and deal with discrimination and prejudice. 

Department of Early Education and childhood

Dolls & Self Esteem

Race, self-esteem, and doll selection have been inextricably linked since the “doll tests” conducted by Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s. For these tests, Black children between the ages three and seven were shown dolls with different complexions and asked which race best reflects their own and, second, which race they preferred. Most of the children identified themselves as the Black doll but most preferred the White doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. The study concluded that the “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” of that era caused Black children to develop a sense of inferiority.

But more recent research indicates that doll choice has little to do with self-esteem.
 
“There were flaws in the original doll studies and these were corrected in later studies,” says Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor of Kansas University.  In 2000, Dr. Gray-Little conducted a study while a professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, which found that despite the relationship of the test in the past to lower self-esteem in Black children, that Black children and White children had similarly healthy self-esteem.  

However, says Dr. Gray-Little, “There remained evidence that African American children were not as likely to choose a doll that resembled them in color as much as Caucasian children.”

Dr. April Harris-Britt, a clinical psychologist in North Carolina specializing in child, adolescent, and family issues, agrees adding, “The doll studies don’t assess self-esteem but children’s views of race, identification and the implications of that racial identity.”

“The implications of racial identification for the development of self-esteem is not being able to see being a minority as a positive attribute. One of the ways children learn what is positive is through images in magazines and on TV and in the dolls they have access to,” she added.  

“Dolls that are beautiful and that people want to play with help to reinforce positive images, but if you don’t see them out there, it perpetuates the myth that only White dolls are desirable.”

Article from Essence Magazine

 Beautiful little six year old girl in f

I am a princess!

Lack of diversity in dolls

As recently as June 2020 the maker of Daisy Kids Designer shop walked into a shop that stocked toys, and out of the three, five-tier shelves that stocked dolls and accessories, none were black. This is inexcusable in this day and age.

Daisy Kids Designer Dolls are aiming to fill this gap, as small scale as the dolls are, it is giving some kind of alternative for children to own something they can identify with, that is so crucial to their development. I enjoy the creative process and bringing a doll to life knowing that the child receiving it will be utterly thrilled. 

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