Babies and toddlers are eager to engage in peek a boo games with anyone willing. What seems so simple to adults -- here one second, gone the next -- intrigues and delights developing minds. The Successful Parent website explains how peek a boo games teach concepts like object constancy -- the idea that things, people or places exist even when they are not in sight -- and separation-individuation, where toddlers begin to see their selves as separate from mommy and daddy. Go ahead and indulge your toddler while nurturing her developing brain.
Get creative with peek a boo games by employing different props. Hide under a scarf or blanket and pop out unexpectedly, or encourage your tot to pull the blanket off himself. Place your child's favorite stuffed animal over your face, then pull it away. Employ a paper plate as a mask or place a box over your head. Add interest by making a different silly sound each time your face is revealed, or begin to sing one of your tot's favorite songs and abruptly stop when you recover your face.
Help your toddler differentiate between emotions by changing your expression each time you reveal your face. Exaggerate each expression as much as possible with wide grins, deep frowns and pouts. Encourage your tot to play along by mirroring your expressions or making her own. Clearly identify each emotion by saying, "I'm so happy!" or "I'm sad today." Add difficulty as your toddler becomes familiar with emotions by adding more complex emotions like frustration, anxiety or anticipation.
Hide the Toy
Many toddlers form attachments with a special toy and can often be seen toting a Teddy bear, dump truck or baby doll wherever they go. Let your child's first "best friend" get in on the peek a boo fun by hiding it under a blanket or pillow and asking your tot, "Where did Teddy go?" Sing a simple song as you look, such as "Where is Teddy? Where is Teddy? Where could he be?" When he finds it, role-play the toy's voice by saying, "You found me! I'm going to hide again!"
Challenge your toddler with a more complex peek a boo game like "What's Missing?". Line up four of your tot's toys, then ask her to close her eyes or turn around. Remove one of the toys, then ask your toddler to look again to see if she can find what's missing. Continue to challenge her as she masters the game by adding more objects, or by letting her be the one to take an object away. You can even play at the dinner table by removing someone's fork, plate, cup or even an entire person.