Have you ever wondered why children love playing Peek-a-Boo? Swiss Psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980) explains that up until about 4 months of age a child believes that if an object can’t be seen then it no longer exists. This explains why, when a carer covers their face during a game of Peek-A-Boo a baby will laugh hysterically, thinking the Carer has disappeared… like magic!
Between 4 and 7 months of age, a child develops what Piaget calls Object Permanence which involves the baby’s understanding that when things disappear, they are not gone forever. After around 7 months, and Object Permanence has been developed, you may find that your child may not be as interested in Peek-a-Boo anymore and may choose to look around disinterested, so make the most of this while you can.
Object Permanence is a major milestone in a childs development where they begin to understand that not only objects, but people too still exist even when they are not visible. This is great news as it may help to alleviate separation anxiety when you are ready to leave your child in someone else’s care.
So how can we help a child develop Object Permanence? Play more Peek-A-Boo! Encourage your child to play with shape sorting toys, pushing shaped blocks through the toy, watching them temporarily disappear, only to collect them at the end of the game. You might also want to try partially hiding your child’s favourite toy under a blanket, encouraging the child to find their hidden toy and gradually covering the toy completely once your child has become confident with this game.
Whatever you do, if your infant is under 7 months of age, start playing Peek-a-boo today. Not only will your child think your magician skills are amazing but you’ll be setting your child up with some valuable skills too.