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  • Fiona Holiday

Hide and Seek - The Games We Play


Do you enjoy playing hide and seek? It’s a favourite childhood game. The game can take many different forms- from objects hidden in the sand tray to a child physically hiding in the room, but I think that at the root of the game is a deep-seated, human need to be found. 

Have you ever had the experience of finding somewhere to hide, exhilarated by the cunning of your hiding place, only to feel a growing anxiety that it is TOO clever? There is nothing quite like the forlorn feeling of hearing the others continue gleefully in the game whilst you remain tucked away in your hiding place. What happens to the unfound, the lost?

The game of peek-a-boo is delightful to a baby learning that what they thought had disappeared is in fact present. The joy of connection after disconnection is important learning as the infant grows to cope with separations from those who care for them. 

When I am invited to play hide and seek, I am always interested in who gets to hide first. Most often, it is the instigator of the game that is interested in being found. Maybe a metaphor for the task of the therapist in the early days of the relationship. 

Some children might struggle to tolerate the uncertainty of knowing if they will be found and give clues as to their whereabouts. What about the child who hides numerous objects? Perhaps these represent aspects of self that require piecing together.  

What are the players learning about connection and themselves in this game? Perhaps that they are worth looking for, that they matter, that they will be found. Sometimes, I wonder if it is a signal to me that there are things I am not seeing and I need to look harder, more persistently, see differently. At other times, it is the mutual seeking and finding that brings pleasure and strengthens the connection between us. 

Being a player in the game of hide and seek, is to explore how we allow ourselves to be seen in the world. Playing the game can allow us to discover how it feels to seek without finding, to hide without being sought.

These experiences can provoke the very feelings that are the heart of relationships - loss, abandonment, joy, anticipation, excitement, disappointment. Play is a serious endeavour.

If you want to learn more about the therapeutic value of play and how young children develop their sense of connection with others, do get in touch using the box on the right. 


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