Do you experience ‘mom-guilt’ when you drop off your toddlers at childcare centres, créche and/or nursery schools? If yes, this study may be liberating for you! As a working mom, you can now breathe a sigh of relief when dropping off your little one in childcare centres, creche or nursery schools.
A new study postulates that children who go to nursery schools are better behaved and have fewer emotional problems than children who were cared for by family or a childminder.
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Through the study, it was deduced that children who attended a crèche or day care centre for a year or more, found it easier to make friends and had better social skills than children who stayed at home.
Researchers believe more stimulating play, more time spent reading, following rules from a young age and getting praise mean they thrive in a nursery setting.
A previous research had suggested that early childcare can boost a child’s language and thinking skills, and may improve their academic performance. However, this new study took it further by testing the potential impact formal care settings from a young age could have on behaviour.
The researchers found out that children who attended child care centres were less likely to have emotional and behavioural problems later on in childhood, and more likely to have better social skills, while children who had been looked after by a childminder were the most likely to have behavioural issues in both boys and girls.
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Scientists from Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health in Paris, tracked children’s emotional development from birth up to the age of 8.
Parents were asked a series of questions about their children’s behavioural and emotional problems at 3, 5+ and 8 years old, including any difficulties making friends, hyperactivity, poor attention, conduct, and social skills.
They were also questioned on what type of childcare was provided for their children at 4, 8, and 12 months old, and again, where they were at 2 and 3 years old.
More than 4 in 10 (44.5%) were looked after by childminders, while a quarter (26%) went to nursery, a crèche or day care centre, and just under a third (30%) were cared for by family or friends.
Around 1 in 6 children had behavioural problems including hyperactivity and low attention spans, while a similar number were found to have emotional issues.
Just under 7% had difficulties making friends while 13% were judged to have poor social skills.
Analysis showed those who received formal care were less likely to have emotional and behavioural problems, and more likely to have better social skills than those looked after by family or friends. Children cared for by childminders were the most prone to behavioural issues, the researchers found.
Since women began entering the workforce in increasing numbers in the 1980s, some child development researchers have reported that childcare has harmful consequences for children’s social and emotional adjustment but this study found that overall, children whose mothers had gone to college or university and were in good mental health benefited the most from formal childcare.
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Boys who went to nursery had fewer emotional problems, but those looked after by a childminder had more behavioural problems, according to the findings published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Girls in particular, benefited from the more formal setting as they are more prone to being shy, nervous or upset, researchers suggest.
The authors concluded: “Access to high quality childcare in the first years of life may improve children’s emotional and cognitive development, prevent later emotional difficulties and promote pro-social behaviours.”
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