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Publication #FAR0302

The Importance of Quality Child Care on Behavior Outcomes1

Kate Fogarty2

Figure 1. 
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We have previously discussed how child care affects the quality of parent-child attachment (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FM/fm14200.pdf). Another concern parents have about child care, especially in the early years, is "How will my child turn out? Will he or she have behavior problems, or do poorly in school?" A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1998) showed that long-term, non-maternal care in the early years of life does not appear to lead to problem behavior in the preschool years. Instead, quality of child care received in the early years, rather than quantity of time spent in child care, was found to predict whether children's behavior was prosocial or antisocial (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 1998).

However, mothers' approach toward parenting was much more influential on child behavior than any aspect of child care (e.g., quantity of time spent, quality of child care). Similarly, quality of child care positively influenced children's cognitive and language development, whereas time spent in child care had no effect (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2000). Children who spent time in center-based child care reaped the best language and cognitive skills over other childcare options. Last, children who were exclusively cared for by mothers were no different from their peers in child care in cognitive and language skills.

This research would indicate that you don't need to worry about negative impact on your child's behavior and cognitive skills, provided you seek high quality, center-based child care.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at http://www.familyalbumradio.org.

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References

Berk, L.E. (2004). Development through the lifespan. (3rd edition). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Lamb, M.E. (1997). The development of father-infant relationships. In M.E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (3rd edition, pp. 104-120). New York: Wiley.

National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD), Early Child Care Research Network. (1997). The effects of infant child care on infant-mother attachment security: results of the NICHFD Study of Early Child Care. Child Development, 68, 860-879.

National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD), Early Child Care Research Network. (1998). Early child care and self-control, compliance, and problem behavior at twenty-four and thirty-six months. Child Development, 69, 1145-1170.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Early Child Care Research Network. (1999). Child care and mother-child interaction in the first 3 years of life. Developmental Psychology, 35, 1399-1413.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Early Child Care Research Network. (2000). The relation of child care to cognitive and language development. Child Development, 71, 960-980.

Pederson, D. R., Gleason, K. E., Moran, G., & Bento, S. (1998). Maternal attachment and representations, maternal sensitivity, and the infant-mother attachment relationship. Developmental Psychology, 34, 925-933.

Stifter, C.A., Coulehan, C.M., & Fish, M. (1993). Linking employment to attachment: The mediating effects of maternal separation anxiety and interactive behavior. Child Development, 64, 1451-1460.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FAR0302, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Broadcast as program 146 and published January 2008. Reviewed March 2012. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Kate Fogarty, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.