No doubt you played peek-a-boo with your child when they were a baby. Peek-a-boo, a time-honored game played by generations of parents and babies, has real developmental benefits to it. Playing peek-a-boo helps with separation anxiety and object permanence. Hide-and-seek takes peek-a-boo to the next level and beyond.
ALL Learning Requires Some Risk
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. To grow and learn, everyone—young and old—must be willing to risk something. Hide-and-seek offers a risk-taking opportunity. Kiddos have to choose a hiding spot and hope it’s good enough they won’t be discovered. There’s an element of danger with this. And that can be scary. But it’s scary in a safe, playful way. The exact kind of thing you want to give your kiddo practice experiencing. It boosts their coping skills.
Children learn through their senses about themselves, others and the world around them. Hide-and-seek gives them the chance to hone their senses; especially their sense of hearing. They listen intently for the player who’s ‘it’ to come upon them or to call Ollie ollie oxen free. Hide-and-seek helps children discriminate sounds. Playing with multiple children helps kiddos distinguish individual vocal sounds.
Count On It
Playing hide-and-seek starts with the child chosen as ‘it’ closing her/his eyes and counting to 10. I might not have 10, but hide-and-seek supplies children with multiple cognitive benefits:
1. Develops memory—Kiddos need to remember the rules of the game. Who’s ‘it’; when it’s time to come in or call everyone in; changing roles, going from ‘it’ to hider
2. Improves problem-solving—children must juggle many things at once. When they’re ‘it’ they need to come up with a systematic way of searching so it’s easier to keep track of where they’ve been and looked. When they’re a hider they need to evaluate perspective hiding places, perhaps using spatial reasoning, to insure they’re adequately concealed.
3. Fosters adopting a different perspective—When children play hide-and-seek they can imagine what someone else might do, either in trying to find a hiding place OR in the way they search.
4. Practice rote counting
Hide-and-seek is most fun when there are lots of kiddos playing! Kidlets works on their social skills playing together as well as learning to lost with grace. In hide-and-seek, losing means becoming ‘It’ and playing more so that takes lessens the stink of losing a bit.
Ollie Ollie Oxen Free
Grandbub #2 was in a hide-and-seek phase a while back. It was hilarious. First of all he’d hide in plain sight. Secondly, once you got in the same room with him he’d say “I right here.” If you didn’t act surprised right away that you stumbled upon him, he would say—with greater intensity: “I right here.” Needless to say, the rules hadn’t quite gelled for this 2-1/2 year old. They will soon and he, as others, will learn impulse control. That they need to stay quiet and still; waiting until they can safely run to base.
Hide-and-seek is a physical activity of opposites. There are times they must remain still and other times where they need to sprint. Dodging ‘It’ to base requires agility and coordination!
In the beginning I mentioned, hide-and-seek could be thought of as a turbo-sized form of peek-a-boo. It has some similarities in that it is another (playful) way to address separation anxiety. Yes, separation anxiety is something you think about more for littles, but it can happen for older children too.
Though peek-a-boo laid the foundation for object permanence, hide-and-seek reinforces it. It gives them a concrete experience of physically separating for a time (of not seeing each other) and then coming back together. While hiding scary feelings might come up, but this game can help them with their emotional control. There’s comfort in the knowing there’s always the safety valve of calling everyone in while ‘It.’
Ready or NOT, Here I Come!
The only, real reason kiddos like to PLAY hide-and-seek is because it’s FUN…and that’s reason enough!
When Your Kiddo Plays hide-and-seek they…
1. Reinforce Object Permanence and minimize Separation Anxiety
2. Improve Physical Development and Coordination
3. Develop Cognitively
4. Learn Emotional Self-control and Impulse Control
5. Tone and Strengthen Gross Motor Muscles
6. Utilize Mental Flexibility as well as incorporates Adaptability and Good Sportsmanship
Hide-and-seek is an example of the POWER of PLAY! Learn peek-a-boo variations here.
Yours in PLAY!