Friday, January 20, 2012

object permanence

While Vicki Jo has had a lot of variation on the "typical" developmental milestones (usually she just lags a bit on large motor - fine motor, language and social are all there!), there is one that has hit us full-force, just when they said it would:  separation anxiety. 

Like clockwork, when I place her in Dad's arms, she begins to whimper and reach her arms out to me.  He says that when I leave the house there's usually about ten minutes of dismay before she resigns herself to the situation.  We try to brush it off and just tell her that she's fine, but she won't be convinced.  I do feel kind of bad for poor Jeff, as he has gotten the cold shoulder pretty steadily for the last month or so.

My understanding of this emotional state is that she thinks that when I disappear from sight, I am gone forever.  She does not yet understand that objects or people can continue to exist when they are not visible.  "Seeing is believing," I suppose, is an easier way to summarize this.

So, with this latest development causing considerable angst in our household, I was very excited to see that Vicki's grandmother and great-grandmother had gotten her an object permanence box for Christmas!  The object permanence box is a Montessori infant material that addresses the very concept I described above.  You drop the small white ball through the round hole, and it reappears below in the tray.  The infant begins to understand that objects may disappear momentarily, but will continue to exist.  

I was unsure if Vicki would "get it," because she hasn't had great luck in fitting back together her peg or egg in a cup, and hasn't really shown any interest in another shape sorter we have.  But amazingly, she figured it out right away!  She watched me demonstrate a couple of times, then grabbed the ball straightaway and dropped it through the hole.  She seemed mystified as to its reappearance in the tray, but I think she is working out the concept as she does it more and more.

This Montessori stuff truly is revolutionary.  So grateful I've got family and friends who are willing to support my obsession with their gifts!

1 comment:

David Reeves said...

Wait. So you're telling me when things disappear, they haven't ceased to exist?? Ridiculous.

Although this new viewpoint may help with my uncontrollable terror every time the sun goes down...