Emotional damage in daycare

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/12/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




The nanny post reminded me of this.
At the time it came out three of my friends were putting there nine month olds into day nurseries because they" didn't want baby loving or being loved by someone else" dose our selfish need to be No 1 mean we put our babies needs 2nd?

The Guardian, Saturday 8 May 2010
Article history
I am acutely aware that those readers who have placed their under-threes in daycare (group care in nurseries) will not find this column easy reading, so let me make two important provisos. Nothing you are about to read is in any way critical of working mothers. I am strongly in favour of those who wish to, as long as the substitute care is adequate. It should never be forgotten that all the problems I am about to describe are just as common among children raised at home by depressed mothers: so long as the substitute care is good, it's much better for her child that a mother works than gets depressed at home.

Second, as far as we know, most children in daycare do not suffer ill-effects. So just because it has been your chosen method does not mean it has created problems.

The story starts with cortisol, the hormone we secrete when faced with threat, leading to "fight or flight". Its levels were measured in 70 15-month-old children at home before they had ever been to daycare. Compared with this, the levels had doubled within an hour of the mother leaving them in daycare on the first, fifth and ninth days. Measured again five months later, while no longer double, they were still significantly elevated compared with the home baseline.

When at home, under-threes' cortisol levels usually drop during the course of the day, but in daycare, nine studies show that they rise. While high-quality daycare does moderate this, they still do rise even under those conditions, and the fact is that the vast majority of daycare provision is low or medium quality – in America, only 9% is high quality; something similar is true here.

The effect appears to be lasting. When cortisol is measured at age 15, the longer a child was in daycare when small, the higher its levels. As high cortisol has been shown many times to be a correlate of all manner of problems, this is bad news.

In particular, it may help to explain why children who were in daycare when under three are so much more likely to be aggressive and disobedient. The definitive study of the subject showed that this was true of only 6% of children largely raised at home, rising steadily as the number of hours per week in non-maternal care increased, to 25% of children spending more than 45 hours a week away from mother.

In America, where daycare is widespread, it looks possible that it is increasing classroom problems. A study of 3,440 children from 282 primary schools showed that children who were home-reared were significantly worse behaved the greater the proportion of their classmates who had been in daycare: they seemed to be led to misbehave by the greater misbehaviour of their daycared peers. Other studies also suggest that daycare increases the risk of insecurity in relationships.

On the positive side, daycare can benefit the academic performance of children from low-income homes and, when combined with parent-infant therapy, can even improve such children's emotional wellbeing. But it is a myth that toddlers or babies need stimulation, education or friends. They need close supervision by a familiar, responsive adult.

Overall, there is just no reason to use daycare if you can possibly find an alternative. The evidence shows unmistakably that most parents would prefer a relative, and that it is indeed best if the substitute is one-on-one for an under-three, providing care at home. If that is unaffordable, a minder, preferably caring for only one other child who is older than your under-three, is best.


April - posted on 01/12/2011




it's no secret that children need to be with their parents in the early years. children under 3 don't yet comprehend that mommy and daddy need to work. The very young especially may not understand that mommy or daddy is coming back for them. The reason for the cortisol rise IMO is because either the child is taking the parent's absence personally (it's my fault he/she left me here) or the child believes no one is coming back for him or her. Eventually, it become routine..they know you're coming back and they're even having some fun, but still I am seeing huge personality differences between daycare children and at home children. As I said on the nanny thread, I am not sure what exactly the difference is. Many of the children I have come across in daycare ( i used to work at one) seem very intellectual and organized, but they seem to be missing something (not sure what).


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I don't trust nannies and I don't trust daycares. No one is going to be able to give my children the care and love that their father and I can. period. I am not jealous of other people loving and caring for my kids but they are not my kids parents. I refuse to damage my kids by putting them with someone that cannot care for them. Nannies may have affection for your kids but you are paying them money and if that money stops they will forget and drop your kids without a thought. Same for daycare facilities. However, whereas nannies are there for only your kids in your own home, daycare providers are in their own environment with more than just your kids. They have to deal with sick kids and all the bacteria, bad habits, bad behaviors, and rudeness that other parents don't seem to notice or think that it couldn't possibly come from their kids. So in addition to every bacteria your child picks up in daycare they also pick up the bad behavior too. name calling, hitting, biting, scratching, spiting, and just all around nastiness. Oh and let's not forget if your child is smarter than most kids their age. They don't get moved into a more appropriate group and they don't get mentally stimulated because that would mean extra work. Thankfully if you have to hire someone I would go with a nanny. At least their one and only main concern is to keep mom and dad happy so that the money doesn't stop flowing.

Jodi - posted on 01/12/2011




I actually question the "it may help to explain why children who were in daycare when under three are so much more likely to be aggressive and disobedient." I mean, this is only correlation. Did it also occur to them that the kids are probably aggressive and disobedient because they are the children of the parents who never discipline them at home because of the guilt they felt leaving them in daycare in the first place (yes, I know parents who get the guilt complex and therefore spoil their kids rotten when they are with them).

Anyway, what twat waffle. My son was in full time daycare from 6 months, and my daughter 2 days a week from age 3.....and SHE is the more aggressive and disobedient of the two of them, my son is VERY docile.

Edited to add: not that my daughter is aggressive and disobedient, she just has more of a tendency to this than my son, LOL. In other words, she can be a right little b*&ch, but maybe that's just a girl thing :D

Tara - posted on 01/12/2011




It doesn't matter a whole lot about the quality of care, it's certainly better when you have highly trained staff, but it's still not the same as mom or dad. I would bet that cortisol levels rise even when it is someone familiar, at least when they are under 1, not as much, but I bet there is still an increase.

Jodi - posted on 01/12/2011




"A study of 3,440 children from 282 primary schools showed that children who were home-reared were significantly worse behaved the greater the proportion of their classmates who had been in daycare: they seemed to be led to misbehave by the greater misbehaviour of their daycared peers. "

This is the only part that was news to me. I've read studies, debates and articles showing that children of stay at home parents are worse behaved in school. I might have to look further into this, it seems plausible I suppose and I'd like to believe it is accurate, being a SAHM it's nice when facts support my decision in the face of someone who disagrees with my decisions!

Otherwise, none of it surprised me.

Bexterwhite - posted on 01/12/2011




No the problems found with children in daycare are the same as those raised by depressed mother's

Meghan - posted on 01/12/2011




pfffft, the supportive research is done with kids who are being raised with depressed moms?? So it's not proper scientific research...
Like I said in the other thread, this may be true in some cases but there are some really great daycare providers.

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