Wrapped up in covers: preschoolers' secrets and secret hiding places

Kimberly Corson, Malinda J. Colwell, Nancy J. Bell, Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In this qualitative study, interviews about children's secret hiding places were conducted with 3–5-year-olds (n = 17) in a university sponsored preschool programme using art narratives. Since prior studies indicate that children understand the concept of a secret as early as five and that they associate secrets with hiding places, the purpose of this study was to look specifically at preschool children's experiences within their secret spaces. Analyses using interpretive phenomenology indicated that preschool children view secret hiding places with a sense of complexity, and they reserve certain areas as off limits to everyone, even in terms of the knowledge that these places exist. Consistent with a sociocultural framework, hiding places appear to serve individual, relational, and collaborative purposes, and children show heightened agency when deciding the function of a particular place. Children also relate secrets with secret hiding places and describe both with excitement, imagination, and intimacy. Finally, children's conceptualisations of secret hiding places are discussed in relation to the sociocultural perspective and the implications for children's social and emotional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1769-1786
Number of pages18
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics


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