If you have young children, they might start playing peek-a-boo soon (or maybe they already love to play it!). But before they enjoy playing this game, they probably cried if you hid a favorite toy (or your lovely face!). Soon after, they will start looking for the desired object. And all this is possible thanks to object permanence.
Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched. It is acquired by infants between 8 and 12 month of age.
What happens is that a baby goes through some steps in order to aquire object permanence. First, they look at a toy and if it goes away, they don’t care (out sight, out of mind). Then, they look for a toy when it’s partially hidden. They begin to understand that the object still exists, even if they can’t see it completely. Finally, they look for the toy after it’s been hidden, because they know it exists, it’s just hidden or out of sight! So, if you try to play hide-and-seek and your baby starts crying, then he/she definitely has not acquired object permanence!
The term, object permanence, was given by child development expert and psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget believed most children reached the object permanence stage when they were about eight or nine months old.
But, why is it important? Imagine you never remember where things were before… you would be forever looking for everything because you’d never remember what you had and where you put it! (hmm so why we still can’t find the keys?).
Here are two videos to show object permanence. The first one shows the out of sight out of mind stage and the second one, shows a baby who has already aquired object permanence.
So, next time your child cries because you left them at daycare or just left the room, be happy, your child has just reached a very important milestone!
What stage is your baby? Out of sight, out of mind? partially hidden, or having fun with hide and seek?