New Study Gives Working Parents Something Else to Worry About

March 27, 2007

As if working parents don’t have enough to worry about, a new study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development released Monday concludes that children who spend time in daycare, regardless of the quality of the daycare center, are more likely to exhibit behavior problems (aggression and disobedience) in grade school.  Now it’s no longer good enough to find a quality childcare for your child.

Agressive ChildrenGranted they study concludes that these issues aren’t outside the normal range, but it still makes you question your decision to send your child. 

I’m lucky enough to have a worked out a very complex work arrangement plan that allows me the ability to keep my children at home with me, my husband or their grandmother during the week.  But most working parents aren’t that fortunate.  According to an article in the New York Times, an estimated 2.3 million American children under the age of five attend daycare.

What are parents to do?  Having a parent stay home with their children is not an option for many.  A large number of families need two incomes to survive.  Others choose to have two incomes so that they can afford the little extras — gym class, vacations, music lessons — for their family.  Still for other parents, they have careers that can’t be abandoned.   And while 4.8 million toddlers and preschoolers are cared for by relatives or nannies, this option is not feasible for many due to finances or geography (live too far away from relatives).

 I used to worry that my children missed out on some key social skills by not attending daycare, but now I’m glad that they are not in a daycare center. 

Do we need to increase daycare regulations?  Are daycares understaffed or have high turnover?  Are the staff just underpaid and undertrained as the study authors theorize?  Do we need to increase the ratio  of staff to children?  Do we need to segregate even more narrowly by age group to prevent older/bigger kids from picking on the younger/smaller ones?

I don’t have the answers.  But if you do, there are some verey worried working parents that would love to hear from you!

On a positive note, the study did find that children that received higher quality childcare prior to kindergarten had better vocabularies in grade school.

(Graphic courtesy of www.parentingpress.com)