Our take: More research on the link between day care and behavior problems has led to conclusions that day care does not necessarily cause behavioral problems. The issue actually lies in the quality of day care in the United States compared to other countries where day care is consistently high quality and embraced by society.
Time spent in day care doesn’t link to problems for older children — at least, not when that day-care time is separated from the socio-political context in which the care is provided. A team of researchers from Norway, Harvard and Boston College, examining the varied research that sporadically associates an increase in hours in day care with increased behavior problems, noted that the work was all based on child-care studies done in the United States. And the United States, they argue, is a lousy place to study the impact of early child care on children.
Most parents will remember the headlines from the last round of the "Does day care harm children?" battle here in the United States: "Does Day Care Make Kids Behave Badly? Study Says Yes" (ABC). "Child Care Leads to More Behavior Problems" (Fox). "Day-Care Kids Have Problems Later in Life" (NBC). "Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care" (The New York Times). "Bad Mommies" (Slate).
All that (and more) from a single, small finding, published in 2007, based on a study of 1,300 U.S. children from 4˝ years old through the end of sixth grade. Among those children, researchers found that those who spent a year or more in day care while of preschool age were slightly more likely to become disruptive in class during elementary school.
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